Final Four Teams’ Future Outlooks

    This year's Final Four teams are flush with talent, but how will they all fare five years in the future? Here's an outlook of each of the last contestants in the NCAA Tournament.

    March 29, 2016

    This year’s Final Four teams are flush with talent, but how will they all fare five years in the future? Here’s an outlook of each of the last contestants in the NCAA Tournament.


    While cutting down the nets in Houston is by far the top priority for the Final Four teams, their coaches will always have next year and beyond in the back of their minds.

    Successful programs depend on the ability to consistently land top recruits – players who are talented and able to develop, but also young men who will fit a school’s program, gel with an existing roster and excel within its style of play.

    So which of the Final Four teams are best positioned for prolonged success? Who will still be contending for a national championship five years from now? Here’s a look at what’s to come:

    North Carolina

    Roy Williams defines prolonged success in college basketball as much as anyone. While there were whispers earlier this season that Williams, 65, was on the verge of retirement, he strongly denied those claims. 

    The Tar Heels say farewell to a pair of seniors, Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige, both of whom have had extraordinarily successful college careers and will play at the next level. Teams like North Carolina simply reload, however, and on the way in 2016 are a pair of highly regarded recruits in big man Tony Bradley and shooting guard Brandon Robinson. 
    With six teams in this year’s Sweet Sixteen, the ACC showed it was the best conference in the land. Assuming that the NCAA doesn’t hammer the men’s basketball program when (if?) it levies punishment for the university’s academic scandal, expect North Carolina to be among the best of the best for years to come.

    Oklahoma

    The Sooners went 15-16 in Lon Kruger’s first season five years ago, but they’ve improved in each of the subsequent seasons and are now back in the Final Four for the first time since 2002. Kruger, 63, has solidified Oklahoma as a perennial contending team in the Big 12 conference. 

    Buddy Hield, a senior guard and national player of the year candidate, is irreplaceable, but Kruger has an impressive recruiting class on the way – led by Kameron McGusty, who could ease the pain of Hield’s departure. 
    The biggest question about Oklahoma’s future could be how long Kruger stays. His coaching history – four seasons Texas–Pan American, four at Kansas State, six at Florida, four at Illinois, seven at UNLV and now in his fifth at Oklahoma – suggests a pattern. If this is Kruger’s last coaching job and he’s in it for several more years, that’s good news for the Sooners.

    Syracuse

    Despite being 71 years of age and in his 40th season as head coach of the Orange, Jim Boeheim has no plans to retire following the season. He reiterated that this week, saying as long as he’s winning, he wants to continue coaching. Given that’s all he’s ever done at Syracuse, more of than can be expected. 

    This season was a challenging one for the Orange, who endured a rocky start while Boeheim served a suspension for violating NCAA rules. But look at them now, back in the Final Four for the sixth time since 1976. 
    Seniors Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney will depart but Malachi Richardson is just a freshman. On the way is a sharpshooting blue chipper in Tyus Battle. This year’s regular season was a bit of an aberration – Syracuse remains an elite program and will be as long as Boeheim is around.

    Villanova

    One of Jay Wright’s trademarks at Villanova has been consistency. He’s won over 70 percent of his games and his teams have now advanced to the NCAA tournament in 11 of 12 years. The Wildcats are finishing up Year Three of a remarkable run – they’re a combined 95-13 heading into the weekend in that span. 

    Wright, 54, will lose at least a pair of seniors in Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu. Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart are juniors. But on the way next season is some serious size – at 6-9, 275 lbs, Omari Spellman is expected to be a force. At the end of the day, there is no reason to believe Villanova won’t continue to win at a high level for several years to come.

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