Hours after President Obama filled out a bracket predicting 11th-seeded Texas would topple sixth-seeded Butler in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, first-year Bulldogs coach Chris Holtmann fired back with a clever quip of his own.
"I notice not many people are picking us, including our President," Holtmann told reporters Wednesday. "So that's going to be the last time I vote for him."
Holtmann is correct though that Butler is not getting much respect at all in the buildup to Thursday's game. Las Vegas oddsmakers have anointed Texas the slim favorite even though it's the lower seed and Yahoo users have made Texas the most popular choice among the No. 11 seeds to win their opening-round game.
The respect for Texas (20-13) is no surprise even though the Longhorns went 3-12 against the RPI top 50 opponents and barely slipped into the NCAA tournament. Texas rose as high as No. 6 in the country earlier this season and still ranks in the top 25 in the KenPom rankings because so many of its losses were close games against top-notch competition.
"Texas presents great challenges and we recognize the team that they are," Holtmann said in a more serious moment. "I think somebody told me the other day, these types of seeds are typically 50/50 games. We recognize, I think, why a lot of people have picked Texas. They're a terrific team, come from a terrific conference. Having said that, I know our guys are excited about the challenge."
Holtmann wasn't the only NCAA tournament coach to recognize that Obama picking against his team was a chance to motivate his players. Providence coach Ed Cooley told the Providence Journal that he told his team nobody thinks they can win after seeing Obama's bracket had the sixth-seeded Friars falling in the round of 64.
"I love Barack," Cooley said. "I voted for him a couple times. I may take back a couple of my votes but he has to worry about foreign policy and our budget."
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