Check out these CEO Final Four predictions, then make your own below.
North Highland Worldwide Consulting
Final four picks are never easy, but I tend to gravitate towards teams that share some of the same values that are important to North Highland. We are highly collaborative, value each other and seek to combine our strengths to bring out the best in our people and our clients, not unlike what’s required to win the NCAA tournament. All of these teams can win, but it’s how they win that can make the difference. Who has the edge and drive to make it to the end?
- Duke – Duke might be the most balanced team in the tournament, combining the senior leadership of Quinn Cook with explosive play of freshmen Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, making a powerful combination. Coach K is no stranger to dancing in March, and this year he might have the lineup to go all the way.
- Kentucky – It’s hard not to like Kentucky to make it to the Final Four this year. They have some of the most talented players in the country, and if anyone knows how to tap into the potential of his players, it’s John Calipari.
- Oklahoma – They haven’t had a great track record in the tournament recently, but what they do bring is consistency, a culture of team work and collaboration, which is certainly to be respected. Is this their year?.
- Arizona – With an intensity and hunger to win, Arizona has a strong defense able to shut down some of the best teams in the country. If they get their offense going at the same time, they will be hard to stop.
Chairman, President & CEO
- Kentucky – pure talent deep into the roster.
- Wisconsin – discipline and poise under pressure; especially shows on defense.
- Michigan State – proven coach in tournament play, strong senior leadership and experience. Also happens to be my alma mater.
- Duke – best player in the country in Okafor, best coach in the country.
Co-Chief Executive Officer & Partner
Power Home Remodeling Group
- #1 Kentucky – Kentucky has just completed one of the most impressive seasons to date. How were they rewarded for it? By being given what is in my opinion the toughest region overall. You have a two seed in Kansas that is one of the best programs in college basketball and as well coached as anyone. A three seed in Notre Dame who just won the ACC tournament and plays the type of basketball that is needed to beat the Wildcats. A four seed in Maryland who is currently ranked 8th in the country and boasts a back court amongst the best in the nation. As difficult as this road is, Kentucky is simply too deep to not rise up and survive the rocky road that is the Midwest region.
- #2 Arizona – In the west it was a very difficult call between the top two seeds Arizona and Wisconsin. Both are well coached and have had very impressive seasons. Both have very difficult potential second round games, with VCU and Oregon respectively. In the end, I went with Arizona because the region is played closer to home for them and because they have a sterling record against top competition this season. It doesn’t hurt that they just dominated on their way to a PAC 12 regular season and tournament title. Sean Miller has always been a great tournament coach (with Xavier and now Arizona) and I can absolutely see him cutting down the nets and taking his team to Indianapolis. Two regions down and two Wildcats in the final four.
- #2 Virginia – As tempting as it was to pick Villanova and make it three for three with teams named Wildcats in the final four, I had to buck the trend and went with the Virginia Cavaliers. This team has been one of the best in the land all season long, and if they didn’t lose in the ACC tournament semi-finals, we’d probably see them as a one seed. They are strong across the board, have great depth, and have a tremendous combination of strong upperclassmen and some young studs that are going to allow the Wahoos of Charlottesville to have plenty to celebrate deep into March and early April.
- #1 Duke – Every year it seems the tournament committee likes to provide Coach K with one of the easier roads to the final four. As long as they survive the early games (like they haven’t been able to the last few years) this team is going to enjoy a lengthy experience at the dance. Showcasing this year’s expected number one pick in freshman Jahlil Okafor and his high school best friend, fellow top ten prospect and point guard Tyus Jones they have one of the best freshman classes of all time. Combine these young studs with senior leader Quinn Cook and this makes them a tough out and the team, in my opinion, best equipped to go head to head with Kentucky. Two seed Gonzaga has the goods to get there as well, but they always fall apart in March. Keep an eye out for three seed Iowa Stare. Fred Hoiberg has his Cyclones spinning (pun intended) in the right direction at the right time after beating Kansas to win the Big12 tournament, but again this is Duke’s region to lose.
CEO and co-founder
This year’s NCAA Tournament will be a tremendous mix of both consistency and new surprises moving on to new rounds. In the end, experience and discipline will pay off. Obviously, all eyes are on Kentucky and their pursuit of a perfect season. Although they have more experience this year than previous years with their yield of freshman, I look for them to slip up, possibly in the Elite 8, due to the mix of freshman inexperience at key positions and lack of close games against veteran teams.
The team that I project will beat them is Wisconsin. Wisconsin is in Kentucky’s bracket and lost to Kentucky in the Final 4 last year. But, this year Wisconsin is bringing back every starter, but one and will bring with them the player of the year candidate, Frank Kaminsky. Frank has savvy moves in the paint. He isn’t flashy, but leads the country in Player Efficiency Rating. Frank is also a great passer and has experienced teammates helping him out, such as Sam Dekker (who is extremely athletic) and Bronson Keonig, who has risen as an improved point guard this year in the absence of Traevon Jackson. Jackson has been out with a foot injury, but is set to return for the Badgers come tournament time.
The other team I look to make it far in the Tournament is Duke. Yes, I know Duke has been accustomed to early round slip-ups in prior years, but this year I see a different team. Jahlil Okafor, another Player of the Year candidate, has been dominant, as well as, freshman point guard, Tyus Jones, who has showed extreme poise and confidence in key situations. The combination of Jones joined by Quinn Cook in the backcourt may be the best in the nation.
Duke is also deeper this year with key role players, like Amile Jefferson and Justice Winslow, who have the ability to take over games. A certain conference that I think will do really well is
The Big 12. This is the deepest conference in the country and every game the teams have had to bring their A game. This means come tournament time these teams will be prepared to give it their all every time they hit the court. Davidson could also potentially make a splash. They’ve been shooting the ball great from behind the arc and have been playing with great energy.
Another team to look out for is Notre Dame, who also makes a lot of threes and has Jerami Grant, who is extremely quick and has improved his mid-range game. Players like Grant can carry their teams through big games and new rounds. If I had to pick an upset, it would be Gonzaga because of their weak schedule and lack of close games.
Ultimately, I think it will come down to Wisconsin or Duke to win it all. I’m going to take Wisconsin because of their experience and discipline going down the stretch of games. Of course, anything can happen in this tournament so you never know, but this is a great time of year for the sport of basketball.