Forget RPI rankings, conference tournaments and regional seedings. When it comes to the academic side of NCAA basketball, the tournament winner is...

Women.

Fifty-two of 64 teams in the women’s tourney have graduated at least 70 percent of their players, compared with only 24 of 65 men’s teams, according to a study by Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. The data reflects six-year graduation rates for freshmen classes that enrolled between 1996 and 1999.

“The academic success of the women in the tournament is a great story,” Lapchick said. “They are the epitome of what it means to be a student-athlete.”

Lapchick released his annual report, “Keeping Score When It Counts: Graduation Rates for 2007 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament Teams,” on Wednesday. The report was co-authored by graduate student Marina Bustamante.

Eight schools posted 100 percent graduation rates for female basketball players using the Graduation Success Rate standards developed by the NCAA, while only three schools achieved 100 percent with their male players.

Holy Cross is the only school that posted 100 percent graduation rates for men’s and women’s teams in the tournament. Florida and Weber State graduated 100 percent of their male players, while Belmont, Marquette, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin-Green Bay graduated all of their female players.

Click here to read more on Lapchick's study and to find links to NCAA graduation rates.