2021 Top 64 College Basketball Teams (updated 3-31-21)


March Madness 2021

We agree with the pros: Gonzaga is our favorite for NCAA Championship.

Our Final Four prediction included Michigan, which did make it into Elite 8.

(Big Ten typically competes better in this annual event than it did in 2021; we are pleased to note that our best academically rated conference--the PAC12, did have 3 schools in the Elite 8.) 

My "Cinderella" team was Oregon, which did make it to Elite 8.


My top 64 as of March 31

1. Gonzaga

2. Baylor

3. Houston


5. Michigan 

6. Oregon.

7. Iowa 

8. Ohio St. 

9. Wisconsin

10. Virginia 


12. Illinois

13. Villanova

14. Texas


16. Alabama

17. Minnesota

18. Oklahoma

19. Michigan St

20. Kansas

21. Missouri

22. W. Virginia


24. Colorado

25. Tennessee

26. Virginia Tech 

27. Penn State

28. Clemson

29. Creighton

30. Florida State

31. North Carolina

32. Loyola Chicago 

33. Arkansas

34. San Diego State

35. LSU

36. Texas Tech

37. Colorado

38. Oklahoma St.


40. St. Louis

41. Xavier

42. Toledo

43. Utah State

44. UC-Santa Barbara

45. BYU

46. Wichita St.

47.Wright St.

48. VCU

49. Belmont

50. Rutgers

51. Drake

52. Louisville

53. UConn

54. Colorado St.

55. Seton Hall

56. Ole Miss

57. Western Kentucky

58. Abilene Christian

59. UNCV Greensboro

60. Siena

61.UNC Greensboro

62. Colgate

63. James Madison

64. NC-ATT&T

60 Liberty


Research Universities: The Top 64 of the Americas

The Top 64 Research Universities in the Americas (from Canada to Argentina)

Here we offer our Top 64 research universities of the Américas, from Canada to Argentina, including, of course, the United States and Mexico.(All we have done with the QS rankings is sort out the ones located in the Americas and list below, in order.)  To constitute this Top 64, we base the rankings on the data driven QS World Ranking, and in the exact order of this ranking, selected from their world ranking the top 64 schools in the Americas. We prefer QS rankings for our Top 64 because they are data driven, based on published research and unaffected by factors internal to the United States, such as reputations on the athletic field. In our rankings of the rankings, we have the data-driven QS at the top and the commercially-driven US News rankings at the bottom. (We point out that a commercially-driven ranking has a financial incentive to produce radical shifts every year, as if research  were so quickly changing as athletic teams.  These are the recommended highest priority for undergraduate education, graduate education, or where to work as faculty or staff. For the most part, we like the athletic programs of these institutions too, but more details and some academic quibbling later. In 2019 Forbes published a useful ranking of Universities based on the quality of the academic and athletic programs. We take this ranking into account afrer our initial placement b ased on QS numbers. 

Full Disclosure: we have a lot of connections with a dozen of these universities, very distant ones with many others.  Note that we use a lot of numbers in constituting these rankings. We note high levels of contributions from  Koch Foundation that we wojuld associate with an effort to indoctrinate students in conservatgive political/economic thinking.

1. MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).  A member of the American Association of Universities since 1934, Worldwide research leaders in engineering and physical sciences.  MIT is ranked number one in the United States, number one in the Americas and number one the world by the data driven QS worldwide rankings. The rise of this institution, unlike much of their research, is not really rocket science: the faculty hires and promotions at MIT over the past two decades have been the most informed in the world.  Endowment: $14.8 billion dollars. Instagram followers:  202.4k. Koch Foundation: $848,6001,0444,385

2. Stanford University. A founding member of the AAU dating back to 1900, Stanford is ranked the number two research university world wide by QS. Research strengths broader than MIT, including humanities and social sciences. Forbes ranked it No. 1 in the combination of academics and Athletic teams. Among top 40 most bike friendly campuses in U.S. and a model on west coast (with UC Davis) for commuting to college campus on bicycle. Simultaneously a premiere research university and highly competitive Division I school in sports, this is the model for both the USC and University of Miami as well as small elite private colleges that have the means to deliver first-rate education to a more diverse student population than is currently the case. Very bicycle friendly place, too. Students: 16,000 (2016). Remarkably, True to form for elite private universities, Stanford was among those identified in tdhe admissions s scandel of March 2019. .Endowment: $24.8 billion dollars. Instagram followers: 370k. Koch Foundation: $848,000. Admirable handling of Covid19 & Sports teams

3. Harvard University. A worldwide model in teaching and research, Harvard is also ranked as a bicycle friendly campus, having been awarded the Silver Award by the League of American Cyclists for its level of friendliness. 17% of faculty and staff commute to this campus. This university has been a member of the AAU since 1900 and is ranked by QS not only No. 3 in U.S. but also No. 3 in world. Not really that tainted by the admissions scandal of March 2019: studying a Harvard has always included, above all, special admission for the very wealthy.    Endowment: $36 billion dollars. Instagram followers: 842k. By selecting students in informed manner, this elite university supports the idea of diversity in their practice.The current leadership in Washington has attempted to interfere with this process; we think Harvard can survive this presidency without our support, but just for the record, we fully support Harvard, just for the record.    

4 Caltech (California Institute of Technology).  Member of AAU since 1934.  The MIT of sciences in the West. Surprisingly small student population.Have been ranked as high as #1in some rankings. These professors are researchers with something to profess. Endowment: $2.6 billion. Instagram followers:…

5. University of Chicago. Founding member of AAU since 1900. Ranked #5 in the U.S., #5 in the Americas, #XX in the world. Impressive set of Nobel Laureates. Endowment: $7.82 billion. This is a premiere research university that would benefit the social fabric much more if it decided to serve beyond its main constituency: elite white upper-middle class graduate students. Not any in anyone's rankings among bicycle friendly places, but neither is the South side of Chicago in general. Needs a leadership role in NCAA Div I Athletics. Endowment:$7.2billion   Instagram followers:

6. Princeton University. Founding member, since 1900, of AAU.  Well connected in everything international.  Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa was teaching there when he received his call from Stockholm, clearly not the first time the Nobel Committee found itself calling Princeton.   Ranked by QS as 6th in U.S, 6th in the Americas, tops in the world.Forbes ranks it high (No. 9) for athletics/academics.  Endowment: $22.2 billion. Instagram followers: 

7. Cornell University.  In 1991 the Cornell Office of Transportation Services initiated the hugely successful Cornell Bikeway Project. Ranked among the top 40 bike friendly campuses in the U.S. and founding member of American Association of Universities, an elite group of research universities (QS does not care about the bicycling factor related to this campus, but we do: we note that most universities talk about the environment, but less than half are investing in alternative transportation as seriously as our top 40 bicycle friendly campuses.). A founding member of AAU. Ranked by QS as 7th in U.S., 7th in the Americas, and #14 in world.  Cornell is internationally known in the sciences, with strengths in agricultural and food sciences.  In 2018 Professor of food science Brian Wansink was pushed out of Cornell with charges of fraudulent research. Fraudulent or not, the discoveries he made seem like overly obvious trivia. Despite this blemish, we take Cornell very serioussly and think you should.   Endowment: $6.8 billion. Instagram followers: In historical background: heavy funding from its alum Olin.

From Koch Foundation: $212k

8. Yale University. Got caught in the admissions scandal of March 2019. Ranked 8th among U.S research universities, 8th in the Americas, fifteenth in the world. More innovative in many academic programs than its competitor Harvard.  Among the 40 most bike-friendly campuses in the U.S., Yale is ranked 39th, and nice role model for other urban universities who have made little effort to be bike friendly, such as USC and  the University of California-Riverside. Forbs ranked Yale No. #8 in 2019 for athletics/academics.  Endowment: $27.2 billion.

9. Columbia University. Ninth in U.S., ninth in the Americas, and sixteenth in world research universities. Many Nobel Laureates.  A model not only of a research university, but also of how old urban campus not originally designed for cycling can also become ranked among the most bicycle friendly. American Association of Universities: founding member. Endowment: $10 billion. Instagram followers:

10. University of Pennsylvania. This is the Ivy League private school, as opposed to the State University with a similar name.  These are professors with more to profess than the place called Penn State, which supposedly has more teachers than research of professors. Nevertheless, Forbes 2019 ranking of top institutions for both academics and athletics places Penn State Number 10 in nation. Endowment: $12.2 billion.  Instagram followers: …

11,  University of Michigan. Setting aside bicycle friendliness and football performance (where the scores are less than perfect), Michigan just plain is the best at almost everything important for public universities. (Their academic values and the cleanliness of their department of athletics are quite likely the reasons they don’t quite compete well with Ohio State and Alabama in football; they don’t cheat enough. the latter have been sanctioned often for major and minor indiscretions.).  We balance out lack of bicycle friendliness with Forbes ranking of Number 5 in combined academics with athletics.This is the premier public university in the world today. Ranked highly by OS. In the world. American Association of Universities:  founding member of AAU.  Endowment:....  Instagram followers.  Full disclosure: we have had no connections with this institution, but wish we did.

12. The Johns Hopkins University. Member of American Association of Universities. This high-quality elite research university is so oriented toward research, and so invisible as Division III in sports that much of the general public has little idea of its existence. One of several elite universities that could contribute to the social fabric and the cause of diversity by building Div I sports programs. Academic and research agenda serious.  Endowment: ….. Instagram followers:

13. Duke University. (#13 in Americas,). Has has developed cutting edge, radically theoretical graduate programs in humanities in recent decades. We are not big fans of the sports operations of this institution, but must be impressed with the graduation rate of its athletes…usually among the highest of the more competitive schools. American Association of Universities Endowment: $8.5 billion.. Instagram followers

14. University of California-Berkeley. According to QS rankings, the number two public university in the Americas, after Michigan. In world rankings, UC-Berkeley is high but not at top. Ranked No. 6 in 2019 by Forbes ranking of top universities in academics combined with athletic excellence.  American Association of Universities since 1900. Cool place to be on a bicycle, but not among the most bike friendly compared to administrations that really care about students. Endowment: $4.4 billion….. Instagram followers

15. University of Toronto (Canada). American Association of Universities since 1926. The biggest and best in Canada, well positioned to develop Divsion I athletic programs.  Endowment: ….. Instagram followers

16. UCLA (The University of California-Los Angeles).[#16 in Americas and #high  in QS worldwide rankings. Among the larger public universities, UCLA has 44,000 students in the 2016 figures. Premiere research public university, often competing well with arch-rival UC-Berekeley in  areas from football to Shakespeare studies. Relatively scandal free compared to peers in Big 10 and local USC .Nevertheless, State Audit published in June 2018 showed relatively slow in processing sexual harassment cases from 2014 to 2017. American Association of Universities since 1928. Their secret innovation: they pioneered and perfected (among public universities) the concept of a "foundation" drawing from private sources. Media update: in Sept of 2018, author Heather MacDonald argues in book that UCLA is model for diversity (A-plus), but sidesteps the one weak point in the open-minded mostly white faculty: even at UCLA the factuly is only 4%black, 6.6$ latino. As a public university , UCLA was hit hard by the March 2019 admissions scandal. We hardly blinked when we heard about Stanford and Harvard (and, of course, USC), but this matter is really nasty stuff  for a UC.     Endowment: $2.5billion. Instagram followers

Penn State University.  High research productivity from faculty. PSU tends to score more on quantity than quality, although interesting pockets of quality can be found. This is the 14th most bicycle friendly campus in the United States, which tells you they really care more about their undergraduate students than most college campuses. Member of AAU since 1958 with fine Humanities Institute. There has been a lot of work toward changing the culture after the sex scandal of assistant football coach, even though several Big 10 schools are more prone to talking about changes in culture than instituting spearheading institutional change. Concerning volume of alcohol consumed on this campus not matched by high level of accountability. Sleeping giant of the Big Ten, Penn State was ranked 10th by Forbes when combining academics with athletic excellenc (our primary reason for moving them up to tied for 17th in our rankings. International ranking #95.  Endowment over 4 billion..Instagram followers: 140k.

17. McGill University (Canada) American Association of Universities since 1926. The most prestigious private research institution in Canada.    Endowment: ….. Instagram followers

18. Northwestern University is also ranked by QS as number 34 worldwide. Long-standing member of American Association of Universities. Along with  Stanford, a role model for private research universities in building competitive Div I athletic programs.  . … Endowment $11.8 billio

19. University of California-San Diego. American Association of Universities since 1982 and ranked #41 worldwide by QS.  Huge build-up of science and technology in past three decades. Quietly growing to 36,000 students by 2017,  with undergraduates are all assigned to one of six colleges that are more interdisciplinary than most undergraduates might prefer, but which offer the students a high quality lifetime educational background in addition to their major.    # Endowment: 621 million: Instagram followers:24.6k. 

20. NYU (New York University). A member of the American Association of Universities since 1950 and ranked #43 in the context of all the universities in the world.  Endowment: ….. Instagram followers

21. Carnegie-Mellon University. American Association of Universities since 1982. jHIdden jewell in research; could contribute to diversity and social fabric of nation by adopting Div I sports and thus abandoning the llily-white look of the campus. Endowment: ….. Instagram followers

22. University of British Columbia.(Canada) Not a member of the American Association of Universities, but ranked #22 in the Americas and # 47 world wide.   Endowment: ….. Instagram followers

23. University of Wisconsin-Madison. American Association of Universities since 1953 and ranked #53 world wide. A sleepiong research giant that needs a spark.  Super cool for undergrads, maybe too cool to care. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

24.Brown University. Accepted late by American Association of Universities in 1953 and ranked #56 worldwide. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

25. University of Texas-Austin. Accepted into American Association of Universities in 1929. Big-time research and athletics, and this fact reflected in high ranking by Forbes in 2019 looking at both factors: No. 4 in nation.  Endowment: 3.6 billion dollars.…..Instagram followers: ……

26. University of Washington. Ranked No. 66 worldwide;#26 in Americas; Eminent research institution. Have been in AAU since 1950. We like the breadth and depth of research agenda, along with maintaining academic values. Will tend to clean up things quickly and efficiently when an athletic scandal, typically small-scale, breaks out. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

27. Georgia Tech University. Ranked among top 40 bicycle friendly schools. Ranked 46 by QS in worldwide universities, accepted into AAU in 2002.  … Endowment: …..Instagram followers:

28. University of Illinois. Ranked worldwide #71, A member of the prestigious research group AAU since 1908, Illinios is one of the more scandal free of the Big Ten Universities--an accountable and scandal free setting for research excellence.  Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

29. University of North Carolina. This is the third most bicycle friendly campus in the nation. A member of AAU since 1922, ranked # 83 worldwide among research universities. Forbes ranks highly for athletics/academics together. A crown jewel of the south in terms of academic and research excellence. Has occasional scandals on the athletic front, most notably the recent scandal over easy grading in Afro-American studies program. Latest of the occasional scandals: football players found violating NCAA rules by selling football shoes for financial benefit.  Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

30. The Ohio State University. Member of AAU since 1916. International QS ranking #87. Competes with arch-rival Michigan better on football field than in research even though this is a research powerhouse. Disturbing national news in July 2018 about another long term abuse of students in student health services very similar to the Michigan State scandal. In August 2018, football coach Urban Meyer was placed on administrative leave administrative leave to investigate allegations of overlooking domestic violence perpetrated by an assistant coach. In August 2018, Univ Maryland, also of Big Ten) assumed full responsibility for their death of a student athlete while Ohion State President silent on the Urban Meyer scandal. Like USC (and unlike MSU and Penn State), never even talks about a change in culture. If millennials were start boycotting the OSU and USC model, which is likely we would exhibit little sympathy for these institutions.     Endowment: 5.2 billion. Koch Foundation: $1,497,000.

31. Boston University (AAU since 2012). The newest member of the prestigious American Association of Universities, BU is on the move as a legitimate academic powerhouse with growing research agenda.  

32. Penn State University.  High research productivity from faculty. PSU tends to score more on quantity than quality, although several interesting pockets of quality can be found. This is the 14th most bicycle friendly campus in the United States, which tells you they really care more about their undergraduate students than most college campuses. Member of AAU since 1958 with fine Humanities Institute. There has been a lot of work toward changing the culture after the sex scandal of assistant football coach, even though several Big 10 schools are more prone to talking about changes in culture than instituting spearheading institutional change. Concerning volume of alcohol consumed on this campus not matched by high level of accountability. Sleeping giant of the Big Ten, Penn State has a Forbes ranking of #10. International ranking #95.  Endowment over 4 billion..Instagram followers: 140k.

33. Purdue University. Ranked #100 internationally, accepted into AAU in 1958. A superb place for engineering and sciences, usually a little backwards in humanities teaching and research (Writer William H. Gass liked to refer to his fifteen miserable years there.). Known to overachieve as the eternal Number 2 in everything, from Nobel Laureates to the football field. Perenniel number 2 to Michigan in research, number 2 to Indiana in basketball, number 2 (at best) to Ohio State in football. If you like the underdog, you gotta love Purdue.   … Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

34. University of California-Davis'  Accepted by AAU in 1996 and on rise since. Ranked by QS #100 worldwide and #34 among research universities in the Americas.  Not only nationally ranked bicycle friendly campus, but a model bike commuter campus, along with Stanford, on West Coast in terms of bicycle friendliness. Expanding in size and growing in rankings. State Audit in 2018 showed relatively slow in responding to sexual harassment complaints in period of 2014-17. Endowment: 1.1 billion …..Instagram followers: ……

35. Washington University in St. Louis was accepted by the AAU in 1923 and is ranked #100 worldwide and #35 of the research universities in the Americas.  All things considered, this school, along with Stanford, is an ideal model for American universities.  This is a very nice place to learn and work that has had Nobel Laureates on its faculty, and is a national leader in medical research. Their non-rocket strategy: fundraising in high mode and higher standards that most for hiring and promotions.   Currently a Div III school, Wash Univ needs to upgrade to our Div IA and begin sharing its superb teaching and research resources to a more broad spectrum of American society.  We would like to see Washington University as an automatic participant in the Div IA March Madness of 64 of the top universities of the Americas.   … Endowment: 

Two buildings heavily endowed by Olin foundation.

36. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). (Mexico) . The largest university in the Americas, this premier research university in all of Latin America, it already has a professional football/soccer club. Huge campus.  Let it expand into mens’s and women’s basketball, and put its team automatically into the March Madnesss of 64 basketball teams representing the top research/academic institutions of the Americas. … Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

37. University of Southern California. This is one of the few bicycle unfriendly campuses on the West Coast.  Given all its scams and scandals both inside and outside the athletic department,  one is tempted to rank USC with the schools in our third category (The Bottom 64), but as a member of that elite group of research universities AAU since 1969, its number 37 ranking in the Americas as a research university by QS (#115 world wide) , and its endowment of 5.1 billion dollars, one must take this place seriously as a real research university.  Indeed, it has achieved excellence in several academic areas, although the first caveat about USC academic and research agenda is the noticeable lack of key PhD programs, mostly in the humanities, that almost all big-time research universities typically include. USC is always covering for scandals such a large and money-driven institution seems to inevitably produce. In October 2018 agreed to pay $215 million to the victims of their Dr of Gynecology, Tyndall.The scandal of paying football player Reggie Busch better in ways than NFL players has not entirely faded, so as much as the USC brand sells strongly on local and international markets but the names of Tyndall and Busch are likely to pervade for another decade. In January 2019, former USC Associate Head Coach Tony Bland was convicted of bribery in 2017. USC is also selective in sports, excluding from their offerings, for example, womens' softball.  On both the academic and athletic fronts, what keeps USC from being the great university it aspire to become with its billion-dollar endowment are precisely what is lacking, which is why USC is number 37 and not in the top 10. For a private university, USC is enormous, with 44,000 enrolled students in 2016.). We think it would be nice to see USC mens and women's sports competing with the top 64 research universities in the context of the Americas. We did not blink when we read about the 2019 admissions scandal in 2019.  USC is in chaos, but Forbes ranked them No. 3 for athletics/academics combined. in early 2020 is showing signs of cleaning up athletic programs. Endowment: $5.1 billion. Instagram: 71.2k. Koch Fouindaton:  $700, 775

38. The University of Maryland in College Park was accepted by the AAU in 1969 and is ranked #129 worldwide. President Wallace Loh responded swiftly in August, assuming full responsibility within one week in 2018 in the midst of scandal over alleged physical abuse of football players., and one death of a student athlete. Initially, Maryland responded better to their athletic dilemma than Big 10 partners Ohio St, Michigan St, but in late October 2018 the football coach was reinstated and the athletic director has been left untouched. President Loh honorably stepped down. Relative newcomer to Big 10, a change in the culture of this school's environment is not happening here or anywhere else in the Big Ten schools. Forbes ranked #14 in acdemics/athletics combined.  Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

39. University of California-Santa Barbara.  Accepted into AAU in 1995. A model of administrative correctness. Cultivated their own Nobel Laureate on faculty (as opposed to buying one after the fact), so can cultivate Nobel Laureates. Also, recently ranked number 11 drinking cultures (i.e. Party schools) for students. University of California-Santa Barbara.. Very bicycle friendly. Also, recently ranked number 11 among top party schools (drinking culture) for students; this balanced out by regular presence of a Nobel Laureate or two on faculty. Endowment:…..   Instagram:…..

40. University of Pittsburgh. Accepted into AAU in 1974, and has grown into research prominence since 1974  Ranked #136 worldwide. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

41. Michigan State University. Ranked #141 worldwide, was accepted into AAU in 1964.  Very solid research university. Shaken by recent sexual abuse scandal in 2018 related to sports doctor Larry Nassar. (The Executive Vice Chancellor who ignored Nassar quietly moved to Univerity of California -Riverside.) Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……Remember all the talk  in summer of 2018 about the need to "change the culture" on the MSU  campus?  In late August,2018, the NCAA "cleared" the school of further investigation, and we are not seeing visible signs of any substantive change at all. Big Ten as sports institution not addressing the issues of alcohol abuse, sexual violence on the MSU campus, as seems to be the normal on the campuses of most Big Ten schools .  

42. Emory University was accepted into the AAU in 1995 and has moved up the rankings since then. Ranked 148 worldwide. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

43. Université de Montréal (Canada).   Ranked #149 worldwide. A hidden jewel of higher education, let’s get this Canadian institution into our March Madness basketball tournament and benefit from its research/teaching credentials. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

44. University of Minnesota. QS ranking in the Americas is #44; #148 worldwide.  Among eleven most bike friendly college campuses in United States. Not without scandals in its institutional history.  Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

45. University of California-Irvine . Accepted into AAU in 1996 and research leader in highly productive UC-system. Upcoming natinal powerhouse in baseball,and not too far behind in basketball.

46. University of Florida (AAU since 1985). This is the best research university in the Southeastern Conference of several highly athletically focussed schools. Unfortunately, the U of Florida is not scandal-free in its history, and is also ranked 18 by Princeton Review as a drinking culture. A good buy if you are a resident of Florida.

47. Dartmouth College is an Ivy League school but not among the elite research universities of the American Association of Universities. Ranked #183 among worldwide research universities. A small place, probably will never achieve high rankings in research or athletics, but once you get inside this place, the quality is unique. 

48. Case Western Reserve University. Like Johns Hopkins and Carnegie Mellon, a high-powered research university with limited visibility because does not play Division I sports. As service to the social fabric, needs to give athletic scholarships and go Divison I. Same for University of Chicago, Hopkins, and Carnegie-Mellon.  Athletes too need to be in scholarly setting of  high-powered research institution, transforming these traditionally lilly-white private schools into diverse institutions. Accepted in AAU in 1969. Ranked #186 worldwide. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

49. University of Colorado-Boulder. This university has been portrayed as a party school, but it was accepted in the AAU in 1966 and since then has built the sciences into national powerhouses. The administrators and athletic department regularly get caught with their hands in the cookie jar and their names in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Ranked #190 among worldwide research universities. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

50. The University of Virginia has been a member of the AAU since 1904. Forbes ranked #13 in academics/athletics combined.  We have always bneen ijmpressed with tdhe basketball program. Like CU-Boulder, operates like a private institution, for better or for worse. It is ranked 192 among worldwide research universities. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

51. Vanderbilt University.  We understand that this is an excellent university, but are not sure exactly why this one is ranked #1 as the happiest one. But it does hold a high ranking in the area of happiness. Perhaps because, like Northwestern and Stanford, have learned to combine serious research and teaching with competitive Division I athletic programs.   They are the second best (after the University of Florida) research university in the Southeast Conference, but lose most of the time in most of the sports other than baseball.  Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

52. Texas A&M University. QS worldwide #203.  For many outsiders this might seem like another football school in Texas, but A&M can be surprising. First, with 69,000 students, it is larger than most schools, including the flagship, the University of Texas. Second, it is the third best research university in the Southeastern Conference.  Third, it was accepted into the AAU in 2001, something a lot of non-football-oriented schools have not been able to accomplish at all. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

53. Arizona State University. One of the fastest growing research universities in the United States. Arizona State University (non-AAU; this ranking driven strictly by QS ranking.) Has matched rapid growth in size with impressive quality of graduate programs. Much larger than the 34,000 students at the flagship in Tucson.

54. Notre Dame University. Ranked #212 worldwide by QS. As in athletics, this place not that distinguished in any field of research, but still gets strong rankings. The well informed sports analyst Colin Cowherd thinks this place is as heavy-duty academically as the likes of  Stanford and Northwestern, so if you believe that Notre Dame is hardcore academic, just remember: only in comparison to the really bad football schools, such as Alabama and Boise State. Forbes takes this place seriously, giving Notre Dame a combined academic/athletic ranking of #11.  Koch Foundation: 

55. University of Illinois-Chicago.  Aggressively improving on research agenda.  Worldwide ranking #214. Endowment: …..Instagram followers:

56. University of Western Ontario. Worldwide QS ranking among institutions in the Americas is #56; its QS ranking worldwide is #218. We would like to see this fine research university competing in US Division IA athletics.  Educating athletes from inner cities of US and Canada would b e good for the social fabric of both nations.  Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

57. Georgetown University. Has received the Bronze Medal level endorsement from the League of American Cyclists as an official bicycle friendly campus. Academic credibility compromised by 2019 cheating scandael for admissions. Our ranking in the Americas is #57; Among worldwide universities, ranked #226. AAU: …. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

58. University of Miami. Given the scandals on the athletics side, we have our doubts, but the QS data on research places this institution at #58 in the Americas. Worldwide, QS places it at #242. Not accepted into the research-driven American Association of Universities yet.  Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

59. University of Calgary. (Canada) QS  #229 among worldwide research universities. QS ranks #59 among universities in the Americas. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

60. Tufts University. Not a member of American Association of Universities. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

61. University of Arizona. It has turned around a bad history on minority students and faculty, living proof that a cultural change can happen if enough successive administrations are committed. Michigan State and Ohio State need to take note. Accepted into AAU in 1985.QS #61 of Americas., QS #246 worldwide.  Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

62. University of Massachusetts (UMass)-Amherst. Not yet accepted into American Association of Universities (AAU). Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

63. Simon Fraser University (Canada).  Not a member of AAU. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: ……

64. North Carolina State University. Not a member of AAU. Does an impressive job living in the backyard of Duke and UNC. Endowment:: $1.3 billion; Instagram followers: 66K 



These are very good research universities well worth attending if you are in their respective regions, or do not get admitted into any of the Top 64. Not necessarily a good buy if paying out-of-state tuition. Our sources: QS rankings in addition to several other rankings and indexes. 

  1. University of Iowa.  #65 in Americas, #1 of our Middle 64. Less prominent in recent years as research engine and athletic powerhouse of Big Ten, Iowa also has been one of the most scandal-free of this Big Ten grouping. Sustaining broad range of  areas of scholarly research,  gained world fame for its international creative writing program.  Many academic novels written about this place in several languages, including by the Chilean novelist José Donoso.  Member of AAU since 1909. Endowment: $1.4 Billion  (2017)…..Instagram followers: 41.3k.

  2. Iowa State University belongs to the Big 12, but like the neighboring University of Iowa, relatively scandal-free compared to other Big 12 schools or the Big 10 institutions. Emphasis on science, engineering, agriculture. Not yet accepted into AAU.  (#66 in the Americas; #2 among Middle 64 universities, # XXX in QS World rankings.) Endowment: $838 million. Instagram followers: 161.2k.

  3. University of Kansas. (#67 in the Americas, #3 among Middle 64, #XXX in QS world rankings, Has attained surprising excellence in some research areas.  Relatively clean of athletic and/or academic scandals.  Has been a member of AAU since 1909. Belongs to Big 10. Endowment: $185.3 million; Instagram followers: 50.1k

  4. University of Missouri (#68 in Americas, #4 among Middle 64, #... in QS rankings). Member of AAU. Until recently a Big 12 school, this is the fourth best research university in the SEC. Endowment: $1.5 billion. Instagram following: 50.5k

  5. University of Oregon. (#69 in Americas, #5 in Middle 64, and #...... in QS world rankings. We know this is a cool place, but this school is the weak link in research among the PAC12 schools. Oregon State has more research, more professors with something to profess (rather than just teachers).  Perhaps Nike, which has been a huge donor to the sports programs at Oregon, might think about some upgrading of research support. We want to see some Nike swiches in the labs.. Longtime member of AAU, so the research mission and credibility are well established.  Endowment: 775 million. Instagram followers: 71.5k

  6. Stonybrook. Ranking #70 in Americas, QS international ….. #6 in Middle 64. Endowment: $254 milion (2015). Instagram followers:

  7. Universidad de Buenos Aires. (Argentina) Ranking #71 in Americas, #7 in Middle 64, # .... worldwide.The best research university in Latin America. We would like to see them competing with the other schools of the Americas in March Madness, the 64-team basketball tournament. Ranked by QS as #71 in the Americas.  Ranked worldwide by QS #.....  Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  8. Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo.(Brazil) Ranking #72 in Americas; #8 in Middle 64.

  9. Pontificia Universidad de Chile. Ranking #73 in Americas.; #9 in Middle 64, # .....in QS worldwide. We would like to see in March Madness, 64 college teams. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: 269k

  10. TEC (Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey).  Ranking #74 in Americas; Large private institution that follows U.S. educational models. #10 in Middle 64; #178.....QS Worldwide. Endowment: …..Instagram followers: 33k 

  11. Universidade Estadual de Campinas.  Ranking #75 in Americas.Instagram followers

  12. Universidad de Chile. Ranking #76 in Americas. Endowment: …..Instagram followers:302k

  13. Universidad de los Andes: Ranked #272 QS Worldwide.  Ranking #77 in Americas.Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  14. Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Ranked worldwide #275 by QS, #78 in Americas, #14 in Middle 64.. Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  15. Williams College. Ranked #79 in Americas. This superb liberal arts college (often ranked #1 in U.S. in teaching and/or among liberal arts colleges), WC produces enough published research to be on this list and build Div I basketball team. Many liberal arts colleges have good teachers, but Williams has more: it has research professors with something to profess. Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  16. Rutgers University-New Brunswick. QS Ranking 283 Worldwide. Has been very prominent in philosophy in recent decades.Endowment: 1.2 billion Instagram followers: 93k

  17. University of Ottawa. QS Worldwide Ranking #289, Ranking in Americas #81, Ranking #17 in Middle 64.. Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  18. University of Hawaii at Manoa. QS ranking #302. Ranking #82 in Americas. #18 in Middle 64. With 50,000 students and this jQS ranking, this institution might be a suprisingly strong player in research in what could appear to be a party-college setting. The not-exactly-rocket since method: strong hiring last 15 years and high standards for promotions Endowment: $296 million.Instagram followers: 93k.

  19. Buffalo-SUNY Ranking #313 QS, #19 in Middle 64, # 83 in Americas. Endowment$659 million (:; Instagram followers: 201k

  20. Indiana University. Has 43,000 students. Member of AAU since 1909. QS#313; #83 in Americas. ;Endowment:$2.2billion;; .Instagram followers: 32k

  21. Northeastern University. QS #326 worldwide. Endowment: $795million;.Instagram followers: 32k

  22. UC-Santa Cruz. .Like UC-Riverside, still amateurish in endowment-building. Just riding a bike to campus from the urban area of Santa Cruz will take care of your cardio workout.  Endowment: 190 million..Instagram followers: 23k

  23. Virgnia Tech.  The eternal underdog in a region with many outstanding universities, VT is always improving.Endowment: 1.7 billion dollars. Instagram followers: 174k

  24. George Washington Endowment:: .Instagram followers

  25. Rensslaer Polytechnic Institute. Outstanding research record in technology. Low visibility research instittution that woujld benefit from Div I athletic programs. Endowment: 667 million. …..Instagram followers

  26. Univ of Utah. Has QS ranking of 345. Along with Oregon and Oregon St., low research profile for PAC-12 school. Endowment:: 1.1 billion. Instagram followers: 72k

  27. Stonybrook Univ Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  28. Grinnell College. Renowned liberal arts college of teaching excellence; faculty produces research. Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  29. Universidad  Austral Endowment: …..Instagram followers/Hofstra University

  30. Univ of Kansas.  Does its research mission well for its size.  Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  31. Pontificia  Univ Catolica de Argentina Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  32. Boston College. Needs an icon larger than Doug Flutie. Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  33. Wake Forest Univ Endowment 1.1 billion.Instagram followers:

  34. Universidad Externado de Colombia (Colombia)Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  35. Tulane Univ  Endowment1.2 billion.Instagram followers. A fine research university outsized in research and sports, but certainly a competitive and comfortable place to be in both. 

  36. Illinois Inst of Technology Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  37. Univ of Texas-Dallas. This place has some really good teachers, nice educational offerings. Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  38. Brandeis Univ Member of AAU. Endowment: 976 million Instagram followers: 35k

  39. Univ of Delaware. Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  40. Colorado State University. It is second sister to the flagship in nearby Boulder, but it is noteworthy how often their sports teams beat the ones in Boulder and how often even their research programs are better than a few of the ones in Boulder. Beware of the Ram: this place does Number 2 really well.   Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  41. Swarthmore College. This premiere liberal arts teaching college  Known to house and support some research professors, too.  Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  42. Clark University.  A sleeper on research.   Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  43. Bowdoin College. This premier teaching liberal arts college produces research. Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  44. Amherst College. This premier liberal arts college has faculty that produces a lot of research. Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  45. Iowa St Univ. Surprising low in QS rankings, for very strong in some research areas. : Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  46. Univ of New Mexico. Low level of state funding is always a problem. Endowment: …..Instagram followers

  47. Drexel University. 

  48. Howard University.  

  49. Lehigh University. Usually gets most of its visibility during March Madness.

  50. Univ de Costa Rica.(Costa Rica)/St. Mary's Univ

  51. Univ de la Habana (Cuba)

  52. Univ de Santiago de Chile (Chile)

  53. Creighton University. A small catholic school that tends to be unoticed until the NCAA Basketball tournament. 

  54. Wellesley College. One of the premiere liberal arts teaching colleges in which the faculty also publish research.

  55. Univ of Vermont 

  56. Pepperdine Univiversity.  They tend maintain some research without losing touch with their teaching and religious mission. Recently hired a basketball coach with national ambitions and recruitment savvy, which we applaud for this all-white campus. But know they have the Feds checking out the new coach.    

  57. Universite de Quebec (Canada)/Ohio Univ

  58. Univ of Cincinnati. Never quite committed enough to high-level research or athletics, but visibly better with the latter in last decade.

  59. Villanova University. Forbes ranks this place #19 for academics/athletics and we are taking note.

  60. Middlebury College. Premiere liberal arts college with research activity. 

  61. College of William and Mary 

  62. Univ of San Diego.  Excels in Business, baseball and Spanish.  

  63. Michigan Tech Univ 

  64. City of Univ of New York 


THE BOTTOM 64 (in progress)

Proceed with caution with the Bottom 64. See more of the available rankings. Many of these universities have been slipping downward in several academic/research rankings. We have consulted most of them. To complement the Forbes rankings of 25 topi universities in academics and athletics combined, we offer our own ForbzBottom 25 for the Bottom 25 when one takes into account both academics and athletics.

129.University of Connecticut. Ranked #373 QS worldwide rankings; Ranked #129 in Americas; ranked #1 in our Bottom 64, placing it at the high end of the worse research universities.  Has pattern of repeated NCAA violations. Forbes actually lists UConn as #22, but we have them in our ForbzBottom 25 in academic and athletic excellence combined.

130. UC-Riverside. Ranked #384 in QS Worldwide ranking; #2 in our Bottom 64. Not yet member of AAU. Has good record in admitting minority students. Not bicycle friendly. Quality and quantity of faculty productivity have resulted a downward movement in most rankings in recent years. Unhealthy combination of being high on student diversity; but low on faculty diversity. Occasionally hire over-the-hill star professors in attempt to compensate for overall weak research faculty. So uncommitted to athletic excellence, belongs to our ForbzBottom 25 of universities when combining quality of academics with quality of athletics. Endowment: ..... Instgram following. 

131. University of Colorado-Denver; Ranked #3 in our Bottom 64. Does good service to undergraduate student population. Serious about competing in hockey. Forbes gave them much better ranking in 2019, placing them at No. 18 in academics/athletics.

132 The University of Tennessee—Knoxville.  The fifth best research university in the SEC with 27,000 students. Not a member of AAU. QS international ranking very low, our number 4 of the Bottom 64, placing it On the Bubble for the Middle 64. Ranking #129 in Americas.  Needs to build up research activity before further build-up of athletic program. Football team always on cusp of greatness, but never quite there.   Endowment: $1.1 billion. Instagram following: 64,000.

133. Wayne State University. QS world ranking of #439. Ranking #2 in Bottom 64. Not a member of AAU. Endowment: $359 million;  Instagram following: 53.3k

134. University of Maryland—Baltimore County. Ranked #131 in the Americas. QS ranking worldwide #440 Gained nationwide notoriety in March Madness basketball tournament, but little research intention. Forbes ranked them #14  in 2019 in combined academics and athletics. Not a member of AAU.  Endowment: $50 million. Instagram following: 543

135. University of Louisville.  The QS international ranking for this school is #441 and we rank it fourth among the Bottom 64 and 132 in the Americas. Not a member of AAU. The basketball players from the 2013 national championship team have sued the NCAA because their National Championship was rescinded after they scandalized the nation with their illegal deals in the Athletic Program, including the use of paid sex workers. What more do we need to say?  The  low QS rankings matched by low professional qualifications of the coaches this school hires for its basketball and football teams.We place them in our Fordz Bottom 25, which is academics and athletics combined..  Endowment: … Instagram following: ….

136. Florida State University. Ranked by QS as #136 in the Americas, 5th among the Bottom 64; Needs to build up research activity before further investment in athletic programs.  Endowment: … Instagram following:

137.Univ of Oklahoma. QS #495 worldwide; QS #137 in Americas. 6th among Bottom 64. The most compelling feature of their academic mission is their good numbers on recruiting academically talented freshmen.  Relatively lower percentage of talented researchers on the faculty. Forbes ranked them No. 23 in 2019 in combined athletics and academics.  Endowment: … Instagram following:

135. Univ of South Florida. Fast growing campus might need some quality control on the academic side. QS #521 Worldwide. We include in our ForbzBottom 25 when combining academics and athletics. Endowment: … Instagram following:

136. Pontificia Universidade de Sao Paulo.QS #531 Worldwide Instagram following:

137. Universidad de Montevideo. Endowment: … Instagram following:

138. Univ Central Florida. Impressive numbers in growth; less impressive numbers on academic an quality. Not on the research radar screen. ForbzBottom 25 of academic/athletic excellence. . Endowment: … Instagram following:

139. Syracuse University.  Endowment: … Instagram following.  :

139. UAB The problem is that this is where the graduate programs are being built in the state of Alabama, not the flagship.  

140. Univ of Kentucky. We used think of this place as a premiere research university with a very good basketball program. But now we note this once -prestigious. university not investing in research at high levels in recent years. We hope this trend is not related to the recent rise of the football program.  Needs leadership that likes UNC rather than Alabama as role model.  Endowment: … Instagram following:

141. Univ of Nebraska-Lincoln.  They have expanded academic offerings in recent years without parallel development of research activity.   Endowment: … Instagram following:

142. Univ of South Carolina. For flagship university of state of South Carolina, SC is as much an anomaly as Alabama: surprisingly low research productivity.  Endowment: … Instagram following:

143. Mississippi St. More research productivity than the flagship of the state of Alabama. Endowment: … Instagram following:

144. American Univ  Endowment: … Instagram following:

146. Brigham Young. Strong in basic undergrad education as long as the religious views are ignored. Univ Endowment: … Instagram following:

147. Clemson Univ. Hugely committed to being as good as Alabama in football, but seemingly equally indifferent to investment in resarch. Endowment: … Instagram following:

148. Rutgers-Newark. Endowment: … Instagram following:

149.Smith College. Nice undergraduate teaching scenario. Investment in Div I sports could help in diversity, social fabric of nation.

150  Colorado School of Mines

151  Stevens Univ

152  TCU (Texas Christian Univ). We wonder how this tiny place can attract so many top adolescent athletes, so few top academics.

153  Clark Univ

154  Marquette Univiversity.  Belongs to our ForbvzBottom 25 of academic/athletic excellence. 

155  Virginia Commonwealth Univ

156  Carleton Univ 

157  St. Johns Univ/De la Salle 

158   Louisiana State Univ. Let them become a professional club, compete with Alabama better.

159  SMU (Southern Methodist Univ). Years ago, the football team was given the death sentence because of multiple and repeated NCAA violations. Needs to imitate competitor Baylor in building graduate programs. 

160  Temple Univ 

161  Gonzaga University.  A nice complement to national eminence in basketball would be to build a similar research agenda in two or three areas.  

162  Univ of Denver. Really committed to ice hockey, and strongly competitive in that area.  

163  Univ of Wyoming. ForbzBottom 25 in academic/athletic excellence.

164  St. Louis University. Sister school in St. Louis with Washington University.

165  Georgia St. Univ 

166  Missouri Univ of Sci and Tech

167  Texas Tech University.Does have some viable doctoral programs. 

168  Xavier Univ

169  Duquesne Univ 

170  Clarkson Univ.

171 Univ of Alabama QS#701 World wide ranking. The best football program in USA (mostly future NFL players), overall strong athletic program constructed on research/academic institution we rank below the Mendoza line. Not member of AAU (research organization  called American Association of Universities).. Like Texas Tech and Kansas State, has never invested seriously in the proposition of research excellence. On our Forbz Bottom 25 combining academics and athletics.  The anomaly with U of A is that it not only has no research profile on the international or national level but also a flagship university.. 

172 University of Tulsa. QS#701 World wide  ranking (tied) 

173 Kansas State Univ QS#701 Worldwide ranking.(tied). They do Number 2 in sports better than in research. 

174  Kent State Univ. QS#701 World wide (tied). 

175  Butler University. 

176  Oklahoma State University. QS 751 world ranking.Needs to compete with Oklahoma in context of research in fashion similar to its intense competition in investment in sports programs. Our ForbzBottom 25 for combined athlletic/academics.

177. Seton Hall University.. A basketball power that delivers courses well, could reconnect with research.

178. Univ Central de Venezuela

178. University of Dayton. ForbzBottom 25.

179. Mercer Univ

180. Univ Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (Peru)

181. Univ de Guadalajara

182. Univ of Pacific. We think highly of their modern languages.

181. Univ Simon Bolivar

182. Univ of Mississippi. Houses a very nice Faulkner collection; needs to house more research-oriented items.

183. Utah State University.  ForbzBottom 25.

182. Univ of Arkansas. QS worldwide ranking is #801.This is the worse research university in the SEC.

183. Univ Tecnologica de Panama.

184. Univ of Montana. Weak state funding is the ongoing story of relatively weak research agenda. 

185. Boise St University. Needs to invest more in research; at least as much as in hi-tech surface of football field. ForbzBottom 25 in academic/athletgic excellence. 

186. Loyola -Chicago

187. Univ Peruana Cayetano Heredia

188. Troy Univ

188. Univ Nacional del Litoral

189. UTEP. When you look at the background of the football coach, you have an idea of what UTEP stands for: not much.

190. Appalachian St. Univ

191. Coastal Carolina

192.  Western Michigan. They built a reputation hosting a fine Medieval conference, but might have benefited looking forward rather than back. 

193. Georgia Southern . 

Academically Qualified Top 64 College Gridiron Football Teams, taken from our Top 64 and Midde 64. (see details below). These school are not among the "academically ineligible,"  but viable research and teaching venues. We recommend a separate playoff system for these strongly acadmically-oriented universities.

1. University of Michigan

2. Ohio State University 

3. University of Notre Dame

4. Michigan State University

5. Univ of Wisconsin 

6. Stanford University

7. U of Texas

8. Univ of Oregon

9. Univ of Washington

10. Univ of Georgia

11. Penn St. Univ.

12. Univ of Miami

13. USC

14. Virginia Tech

15. Univ of Florida

16. Univ of Utah

17. Univ of Iowa

18. Missouri

19. Iowa St.

20. Arizona

21. Iowa St.

22. Northwestern

23. San Diego St. 

24. Purdue

25. Duke University

(If we are going to disqualify individual athletes for underperformance, let's disqualify institutions that underachieve in the lab and in the classroom. Our Academically Ineligible Bottom 64 universities for rankings, bowl games, and playoffs include Univ of  Oklahoma, Univ of Alabama, and Univ of Tennessee).