David Einhorn, Paul Taubman Select Duke in Bloomberg Brackets Challenge

(Bloomberg) -- It’s all chalk. At least when it comes to billionaire hedge-fund investors, chief executive officers and philanthropists making their picks for who will be crowned the national champion in men’s college basketball this year.

Wall Street mavens ranging from Greenlight Capital LLC’s David Einhorn to PJT Partners CEO Paul Taubman and Bitcoin enthusiast Michael Novogratz picked the top-seeded Blue Devils of Duke University to cut down the nets in Minneapolis next month. A total of 25 out of the 54 titans of business and finance participating in Bloomberg’s Brackets for a Cause have the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament champs picked to win it all.

David Einhorn, Paul Taubman Select Duke in Bloomberg Brackets Challenge

Duke freshman phenom Zion Williamson, the projected first overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, is presumably healthy after he blew through a Nike Inc. shoe and injured his knee earlier this season. Williamson headlines a trio of likely top-five NBA picks including guard RJ Barrett and small forward Cam Reddish. While it seems obvious to pick the selection committee’s top choice, the majority of participants last year put their money down on a then-top-seeded Villanova University team that rode one of the most dominant tournament runs in recent history to be crowned champions.

Fellow ACC blue bloods Virginia and North Carolina are among other one seeds adored by the friendly competitors. More than 90 percent of those partaking in the challenge picked a number-one seeded team to win the national title.

The University of Virginia was tapped by 11 of the participants in the tournament pool. Paul Tudor Jones and Cliff Asness are among those with short memories after the Cavaliers were the first one seed to ever be upset by a 16 seed in the tournament’s history last year. Both had their 2018 brackets busted when Virginia was bounced in the first day by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Retrievers.

Outside of the three heavyweights from the ACC and one-seed Gonzaga University, the other three choices are the second-best placed teams in their respective regions. UBS Group AG’s Suni Harford and Centerview Partners’ Blair Effron like John Calipari-coached University of Kentucky. While Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert chose his alma mater Michigan State and T-Mobile CEO John Legere tapped the Spartan’s intrastate rival, the University of Michigan, to win it all.

Bloomberg LP founder Michael Bloomberg’s Final Four is less-ACC centric with Duke, Gonzaga, Kentucky and the University of Tennessee. Bloomberg picked Coach K’s Blue Devils to be crowned champions, while company Chairman Peter Grauer -- a proud Tar Heel -- is banking on USA Today Coach of the Year Roy Williams and North Carolina to top Duke.

Each of the participants is donating $10,000, with the total pot going to the charities of the three participants with the most accurate brackets.

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