SLAM’s 2017 Final Four Picks

The SLAM staff weighs in with our official predictions for the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
by March 16, 2017

Tournament time! By now you’ve probably already filled out a bracket—if not, what’s wrong with you?—and, as you’d imagine, so have all of your trusty SLAM editors and writers. Check out our picks, along with the reasoning behind those predictions, below, then hit the comment section to tell us how great (OK, fine: or how terrible) our prophecies are. Who you got?

Adam Figman, Editor-in-Chief
Final Four: Baylor, Louisville, Arizona, Kentucky
Champ: Kentucky
Why? Every tourney there’s a player with a string of breakout performances that jolt him a few levels higher in the “Exactly how good is he?” conversation. I’ve got Malik Monk as that guy this year. And maybe De’Aaron Fox, too. So, yeah. Kentucky.

Susan Price Thomas, Managing Editor
Final Four: Duke, West Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa State
Champ: Duke
Why? It’s been a minute since people complained about Duke.

Abe Schwadron, Senior Editor
Final Four: Arizona, Villanova, Kansas, Kentucky
Champ: Arizona
Why? Arizona’s best players (Rawle Alkins, Lauri Markkanen and Allonzo Trier) all have NBA talent and can all knock down free throws, which is critical in the mess that is the NCAA Tournament. And because I said it on the podcast.

Ryne Nelson, Senior Editor
Final Four: Arizona, Kansas, UCLA, Villanoa
Champ: Arizona
Why? The Wildcats haven’t been to the Final Four since 2001, but this year’s team is still hungry after a Pac-12 tournament title. Allonzo Trier has been on a tear since returning from suspension, and Sean Miller is as good a coach as any.

Franklyn Calle, Associate Editor
Final Four: Duke, Arizona, Kansas, UCLA
Champ: UCLA
Why? See Duke and UCLA making it to the title game. A coin toss for me. Choosing UCLA on pure gut feeling.

Peter Walsh, Associate Editor
Final FourGonzaga, Villanova, UCLA, Louisville
Champ: Gonzaga
Why? Trump is president. The Cavs came back from 3-1. The Cubs won the World Series. The Pats came back from 28-3. Now Gonzaga gets theirs.

Max Resetar, Assistant Editor
Final Four: Duke, Arizona, Oregon, North Carolina
Champ: Arizona
Why? Zona’s got the depth at the wings and a dynamic frontcourt with serious height. Sean Miller’s been around since, like, forever. He’s paid his dues and built a team that plays with legit hunger.

Tzvi Twersky, Contributing Editor
Final Four: Arizona, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina
Champ: Duke
Why? There’s not better time to find your footing than March and April. Look for fifth-year senior Amile Jefferson to lay it all on the line, and be prepared to watch Jayson Tatum show up some of other big name freshies.

Yaron Weitzman, Senior Writer
Iona over everyone because #914 (other than that, I got nothing).

Drew Ruiz,  Contributor
Final Four: 
Kansas, UCLA, Duke, Arizona
Champ: UCLA
Why? This might be biased of me because I’m an L.A. dude, but I gotta go with UCLA. It’d be good to see the Bruins break that nine-year drought of a PAC-12 team making it to the Final Four, too. Lonzo Ball’s built for the big stage (don’t @ me).

Dennis Page, General Manager
Final Four: Villanova, Kansas, Arizona, North Carolina
Champ: North Carolina
Why? Revenge, redemption and one year wiser.

Dave Schnur, Associate General Manager
Final Four: Villanova, Notre Dame, Kansas, Kentucky
Champ: Kansas
Why? After watching Kansas come back against West Virginia when the game was seemingly over with a minute left, I can’t bet against this squad. Frank Mason is a senior leader/National POY candidate and Josh Jackson is a freak NBA talent on both ends of the floor.

Michael Yaari, Advertising Sales
Final Four: Duke, Arizona, Kansas, UCLA
Champ: Duke
Why? Following what was an up-and-down and unpredictable regular season, I’m expecting plenty of Madness this March. With only one No. 1 seed in my Final Four (Kansas), I foresee upsets early and often. Arizona will run the table in a soft West region and UCLA’s high-powered offense will earn the school its first Final Four bid since 2008. But in the end, I’m putting my money on Coach K and a dangerous Duke team that’s peaking at the right time.

Image via Getty