The 2014 men’s basketball NCAA tournament resumes Thursday after the first weekend filled with upsets and thrilling finishes. Sixteen teams remain in contention for the championship, and that group will play down to four survivors by Sunday night.
While basketball fans are looking forward to a fantastic slate of match-ups on the court this weekend, the NCAA tournament also draws attention to the individual schools themselves. Reaching a sweet sixteen can put any school on the map, no matter how small and unknown.
In recent years, schools like Butler and Florida Gulf Coast University received extraordinary surges in interest thanks to Cinderella-style deep tournament runs. Everything from logo apparel sales and undergraduate applications increased significantly after the schools’ exposure on national television and in other media for their NCAA tournament success.
This year, the group in the sweet sixteen is composed of fairly well-known schools, but that doesn't mean the stakes are any lower. Of the teams left in the tournament, perhaps only Dayton and San Diego State lack widespread name recognition from the general public. However, with a few wins this weekend, that could change permanently.
Success in the NCAA tournament often brings about an increase in applications to attend the schools represented on the court. Tuition costs have increased across the board in recent years, but which schools left in the tournament have the most expensive tuition?
It’s not San Diego State. The Aztecs boast a tournament-tested coach in Steve Fisher and a balanced team on the court to go with the most affordable tuition in the sweet sixteen, at $17,738 per year for out-of-state undergraduates.
Five more public schools are the next cheapest in terms of tuition. Iowa State University costs $20,278, and the University of Kentucky charges out-of-state residents $21,192. Kentucky’s sweet sixteen matchup and fierce rival is the University of Louisville, which costs $23,638 per year. The University of Wisconsin has tuition of $26,653, and the University of Arizona just misses the top ten with a tuition cost of $27,073. Keep reading for the top ten most expensive schools remaining in the 2014 NCAA tournament.
10 University of Tennessee: $27,874
The Tennessee Volunteers have already won three games in this year’s NCAA tournament, since they had to beat Iowa just to make it into the round of 64. From there, the Volunteers have looked far stronger than their #11 seeding in blowing out both Massachusetts and Mercer on the way to a sweet sixteen matchup with #2-seeded Michigan. Out-of-State undergraduates cheering from the Knoxville campus have to pay just short of $28,000 to attend the Southeastern Conference school.
9 University of Florida: $28,451
Another SEC school ranks just above Tennessee in tuition cost. Few schools have a higher profile than the Florida Gators, who are seeded number-one overall in the NCAA tournament this year. The Gators swept the SEC tournament two weeks ago, and haven't slowed down, with wins over Albany and Pittsburgh to arrive in the sweet sixteen. To attend school at the Gainesville campus, out-of-state residents have a gator-sized bite taken out of their wallet, to the tune of $28,000-plus.
8 University of Connecticut: $30,970
Connecticut is in an interesting spot this year. The Huskies earned their bid from the new American Athletic Conference, but they lost in the musical chairs of conference realignment, as fellow AAC members Louisville and Rutgers will soon leave the conference for the greener pastures of the ACC and the Big Ten, respectively. UConn, at least for the moment, seems stuck in the soon-to-be depleted AAC, but that’s not going to stop the national player of the year candidate Shabazz Napier from trying to win a title for the Huskies. An NCAA championship might make the tuition costs for the Storrs, Connecticut school a little more palatable for out-of-state students, who must pay nearly $31,000 to attend.
7 Michigan State University: $33,750
Michigan State was a preseason favorite to contend for the championship before a spate of injuries took their toll on the Spartans’ regular season. The team got healthy, though, at the right time, and put it all together for a Big Ten tournament title earlier this month. Though given just a #4 seed by the selection committee, Michigan State was the public’s second choice for the championship after selection Sunday, trailing on Florida on the consensus bracket. Although MSU is a public school, it’s still extremely pricey for out-of-state students, who owe Sparty nearly $34,000 a year in tuition to attend at the East Lansing campus.
6 University of California Los Angeles: $35,574
UCLA is perhaps the most glamorous school in the nation, and it has enjoyed unparalleled success on the basketball court throughout the years. Steve Alford’s Bruins were not considered heavyweight contenders for the title this year, however, at least not before UCLA swept through the Pac-12 tournament, beating prohibitive favorite Arizona on the way. The Bruins beat up on Tulsa and Stephen F. Austin last weekend, but face a tough test against #1 Florida Thursday night. Paying for college at the Westwood, Los Angeles campus might be even tougher, as out-of-state students are billed more than $35,000 per year.
5 University of Dayton: $35,800
The Dayton Flyers are probably the biggest “Cinderella” surprise team left in the tournament. Though ranked as the nation’s 44th-best team by sabermetrician Ken Pomeroy, Dayton was impressive in upsetting two powerhouses last weekend in Ohio State and Syracuse. It doesn't get any easier for the Flyers Thursday night, as they take on another favored opponent in Stanford. Dayton might not have the biggest national name recognition, but that doesn't seem to keep tuition down. Students of this private school in western Ohio pay nearly $36,000 in tuition.
4 Baylor University: $35,972
No team has looked as intimidating in its first two games as Baylor, which absolutely destroyed Nebraska and the favored Creighton on its way to its third sweet sixteen of the decade. Coach Scott Drew has instilled a tradition of winning in Waco, Texas, leading the Bears to an NIT championship last year before tearing through the early rounds of the NCAA tournament this season. Tuition costs at this private Baptist school are Texas-sized, too, at just under $36,000.
3 University of Virginia: $39,844
No school can boast of as rich a tradition as the University of Virginia, which was founded by President Thomas F. Jefferson in 1819. Jefferson would have been proud of this year’s Cavaliers team, which earned the last #1 seed in the tournament after winning the ACC tournament. Virginia is known for its suffocating defense, but its tuition costs might be nearly as troubling for out-of-state residents at a hair under $40,000 per year in Charlottesville.
2 University of Michigan: $40,496
Michigan earned a #2 seed in this year’s NCAA tournament to go with its #2 ranking on this list. The Wolverines are perhaps college’s best outside-shooting team, and coach John Beilein certainly doesn't discourage the three pointers. Michigan will face red-hot Tennessee on Friday, in a matchup of two of the best offensive teams in all of college basketball. Out-of-state students might find the Ann Arbor school’s tuition offensive, as well, with costs exceeding $40,000.
1 Stanford University: $43,245
Coach Johnny Dawkins and his Stanford team have already over-achieved this tournament, winning games against New Mexico and heavily favored Kansas to reach the sweet 16. Now they play the role of favorite as Stanford looks to end Dayton’s unlikely run Thursday night. The Stanford Cardinal takes a singular name for its mascot, and its tuition costs are singularly high, at least of the teams left in the tournament. A year in California’s Silicon Valley is expensive as it sounds, running more than $43,245.