President Barack Obama, a noted sports fan, especially of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, chose Michigan State to defeat Louisville in the championship game of this year’s version of March Madness that starts Thursday.
As he has done for six straight years now, Obama convenes with ESPN’s Andy Katz and goes over his bracket, game-by-game. It’s known as “Barack-etology.”
“Tom Izzo is a great tournament coach,” Obama said of the Spartans’ leader. “I’ve got Michigan State going all the way. … He knows how to motivate folks and he knows how to coach. My pick: Michigan State. Bring it home for me. It’s been a while since I’ve won my pool.”
Besides the fourth-seeded Spartans and Cardinals, President Obama also selected No. 1 overall seed Florida and top seed Arizona to reach the Final Four in Arlington, Texas, outside of Dallas.
“I know these are not imaginative picks, but I think they’re the right ones,” Obama said.
Among other picks of note, Obama likes two 12-seeds to pull off upsets in their NCAA tournament openers: Harvard over Cincinnati and North Dakota State over Oklahoma. The president also likes North Carolina to upset 3-seed Iowa State to reach the Sweet 16.
Obama has picked three different teams in the “Barack-etology” era to win the men’s title — Indiana (over Louisville in 2013), Kansas (over Ohio State in 2011 and Kentucky in 2010) and North Carolina (over Kentucky in 2012 and Louisville in 2009). His correctly picked national champion was the Tar Heels in ’09.
Last year, Obama’s men’s bracket ranked No. 2,080,996 out of 8.15 million entries in ESPN.com’s free Men’s Tournament Challenge, placing him in the 74.4th percentile.
The president correctly picked Louisville to play in the 2013 championship game, predicting a loss to Indiana for the title. In fact, the Hoosiers fell short of the Final Four and the Cardinals defeated Michigan 82-76 in what Obama said was “one of the best championship games that any of us have seen in a very, very long time.”
Florida in the South Region and Arizona in the West are the only top seeds represented in the president’s Final Four. The other top seeds in the tournament are undefeated Wichita State in the Midwest and Virginia in the East.
The Cardinals and Spartans finished their seasons by winning their conference tournaments and are popular picks to make it to the Final Four.
The president is an avid fan of the college game and his hometown Chicago Bulls, and his brother-in-law is the head coach at Oregon State.