Which March Madness school is the smartest? Ranking every school on their academics

The NCAA Tournament brings together 68 college basketball teams from a wide variety of backgrounds across the country. Some represent powerful blue-blood schools such as Duke, which boasts a storied basketball program to go along with its internationally recognized academic standing. Others are tiny regional schools who don't recruit many student-athletes (or students in general) from more than a couple hours away from campus.

The chaotic nature of March Madness doesn't favor either sort of school. A superior academic ranking certainly doesn't guarantee a better basketball team, as is demonstrated by the squads with the two highest U.S News & World Report academic rankings in this year's field -- the University of Pennsylvania (No. 16 seed) and Duke (No. 2 seed). If those two teams met to decide the national title in San Antonio, it'd be one of the greatest underdog stories of all time.

The U.S. News & World Report categorizes the schools in this year's tournament as national universities (52 schools), national liberal arts colleges (two) and regional universities (13), with only one institution not being mentioned by the premier academic ranking outlet. We listed them in the gallery below in descending order of their ranking by their respective grouping. 

Click through to see the academic rankings of March Madness schools: 

68 PHOTOS
The academic ranking of 2018 March Madness teams
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The academic ranking of 2018 March Madness teams

Penn

NCAA ranking: 64

U.S. News & World Report: #8 National University

(Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

Duke

NCAA ranking: 6

U.S. News & World Report: #9 National University

(Photo by Michael Berg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

UCLA

NCAA ranking: 41

U.S. News & World Report: #21 National University (tie)

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Virginia

NCAA ranking: 1

U.S. News & World Report: #25 National University

(Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Michigan

NCAA ranking: 11

U.S. News & World Report: #28 National University

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

North Carolina

NCAA ranking: 5

U.S. News & World Report: #30 National University (tie)

(Photo by Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Florida

NCAA ranking: 21

U.S. News & World Report: #42 National University (tie)

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Miami (FL)

NCAA ranking: 22

U.S. News & World Report: #46 National University (tie)

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Villanova

NCAA ranking: 2

U.S. News & World Report: #46 National University (tie)

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Ohio State

NCAA ranking: 20

U.S. News & World Report: #54 National University (tie)

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Purdue

NCAA ranking: 7

U.S. News & World Report: #56 National University (tie)

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Texas

NCAA ranking: 39

U.S. News & World Report: #56 National University (tie)

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Syracuse

NCAA ranking: 44

U.S. News & World Report: #61 National University (tie)

(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Clemson

NCAA ranking: 19

U.S. News & World Report: #67 National University

(Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images)

Texas A&M

NCAA ranking: 25

U.S. News & World Report: #69 National University (tie)

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Virginia Tech

NCAA ranking: 31

U.S. News & World Report: #69 National University (tie)

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Texas Christian University (TCU)

NCAA ranking: 24

U.S. News & World Report: #78 National University (tie)

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Florida State

NCAA ranking: 38

U.S. News & World Report: #81 National University (tie)

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Michigan State

NCAA ranking: 9

U.S. News & World Report: #81 National University (tie)

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

North Carolina State

NCAA ranking: 37

U.S. News & World Report: #81 National University (tie)

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Buffalo

NCAA ranking: 51

U.S. News & World Report: #97 National University (tie)

(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Oklahoma

NCAA ranking: 40

U.S. News & World Report: #97 National University (tie)

(Photo by David Stacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Auburn

NCAA ranking: 13

U.S. News & World Report: #103 National University (tie)

(Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Loyola-Chicago

NCAA ranking: 46

U.S. News & World Report: #103 National University (tie)

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Tennessee

NCAA ranking: 10

U.S. News & World Report: #103 National University (tie)

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Alabama

NCAA ranking: 36

U.S. News & World Report: #110 National University (tie)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Arizona State

NCAA ranking: 43

U.S. News & World Report: #115 National University (tie)

(Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kansas

NCAA ranking: 3

U.S. News & World Report: #115 National University (tie)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Missouri

NCAA ranking: 32

U.S. News & World Report: #120 National University (tie)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Seton Hall

NCAA ranking: 29

U.S. News & World Report: #124 National University (tie)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Arizona

NCAA ranking: 16

U.S. News & World Report: #124 National University (tie)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Arkansas

NCAA ranking: 26

U.S. News & World Report: #133 National University (tie)

(Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Cincinnati

NCAA ranking: 8

U.S. News & World Report: #133 National University (tie)

(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Kentucky

NCAA ranking: 17

U.S. News & World Report: #133 National University (tie)

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

San Diego State

NCAA ranking: 45

U.S. News & World Report: #140 National University (tie)

(Photo by Josh Holmberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kansas State

NCAA ranking: 34

U.S. News & World Report: #145 National University (tie)

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Rhode Island

NCAA ranking: 28

U.S. News & World Report: #156 National University (tie)

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Maryland – Baltimore County

NCAA ranking: 63

U.S. News & World Report: #159 National University (tie)

(Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Texas Tech

NCAA ranking: 12

U.S. News & World Report: #176 National University (tie)

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Lipscomb

NCAA ranking: 59

U.S. News & World Report: #181 National University (tie)

(Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

West Virginia

NCAA ranking: 18

U.S. News & World Report: #187 National University (tie)

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Houston

NCAA ranking: 23

U.S. News & World Report: #192 National University (tie)

(Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

New Mexico State

NCAA ranking: 47

U.S. News & World Report: #198 National University (tie)

(Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

California State University -- Fullerton

NCAA ranking: 61

U.S. News & World Report: #202 National University (tie)

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Nevada

NCAA ranking: 27

U.S. News & World Report: #202 National University (tie)

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Montana

NCAA ranking: 56

U.S. News & World Report: #207 National University (tie)

(Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

South Dakota State

NCAA ranking: 49            

U.S. News & World Report: #216 National University (tie)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Georgia State

NCAA ranking: 60

U.S. News & World Report: #223 National University (tie)

(Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Wichita State

NCAA ranking: 14

U.S. News & World Report: #231-300 National University

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Texas Southern

NCAA ranking: 68

U.S. News & World Report: #231-300 National University

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

University of North Carolina -- Greensboro

NCAA ranking: 52

U.S. News & World Report: #231-300 National University

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Wright State

NCAA ranking: 57

U.S. News & World Report: #231-300 National University

(Photo by Andy Hancock/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Davidson

NCAA ranking: 48

U.S. News & World Report: #10 National Liberal Arts College

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Bucknell

NCAA ranking: 55

U.S. News & World Report: #33 National Liberal Arts College

(Photo by Brian Utesch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Creighton

NCAA ranking: 30

U.S. News & World Report: #1 Regional University (Midwest)

(Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Providence

NCAA ranking: 35

U.S. News & World Report: #1 Regional University (North)

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Butler

NCAA ranking: 33

U.S. News & World Report: #2 Regional University (Midwest)

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Gonzaga

NCAA ranking: 15

U.S. News & World Report: #4 Regional University (West)

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Xavier

NCAA ranking: 4

U.S. News & World Report: #5 Regional University (Midwest)

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

College of Charleston

NCAA ranking: 53

U.S. News & World Report: #12 Regional University (South)

(Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

St. Bonaventure

NCAA ranking: 42

U.S. News & World Report: #21 Regional University (North)

(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Murray State

NCAA ranking: 50

U.S. News & World Report: #32 Regional University (South)

(Photo by Stephen Furst/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Marshall

NCAA ranking: 54

U.S. News & World Report: #43 Regional University (South) (tie)

(Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportwire)

Radford

NCAA ranking: 65

U.S. News & World Report: #43 Regional University (South) (tie)

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Stephen F. Austin

NCAA ranking: 58

U.S. News & World Report: #73 Regional University (West)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Iona

NCAA ranking: 62

U.S. News & World Report: #75 Regional University (North)

(Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

North Carolina Central

NCAA ranking: 67

U.S. News & World Report: #80 Regional University (South)

(Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Long Island University -- Brooklyn

NCAA ranking: 66

U.S. News & World Report: Not ranked

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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