President Barack Obama has continued his longstanding tradition of filling out NCAA brackets for the men's and women's tournaments, and released his men's bracket on Wednesday. And he broke out the presidential chalk, taking No. 1 seed Kansas over No. 1 seed UNC in the championship.
Obama, who also selected Texas A&M and Michigan State in the Final Four, revealed his picks to ESPN's Andy Katz. The president picked the correct winner, UNC, in 2009 but has since missed on each of his finals predictions. This time around, as in past years, the president played to the favorites, with only a couple major early upsets in the first round: Hawaii (13) over Cal (4) and Pitt (10) over Wisconsin (7).
The president selected Kansas to win for the third time, following unsuccessful picks in 2010 and 2011. "Bill Self owes me," Obama joked. "I'm putting Kansas in here. Coach, I'm just teasing. I'm not putting pressure on you. But I think the Jayhawks in a squeaker get past UNC."
Obama singled out a few players, including Oklahoma's Buddy Hield ("a great player who is going to be a great pro"), Michigan State's Denzel Valentine ("absolutely has had an unbelievable season") and Kentucky's Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray. But the majority of his focus went to coaches.
"I have a tendency to pick the coach as much as anything, because typically these days, with one and done, what you see is continuity with the program," he said. "Coach K [Mike Krzyzewski] or Coach [Tom] Izzo or Coach Self, Coach [John] Calipari, they know how to take even their blue-chip freshmen and mold them, so that by the time the tournament comes around they're ready. I haven't always picked the right top four teams, but typically it's been one of the top teams that's ended up winning the tournament."
And, of course, to those wishing to put a political spin on this: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and the other candidates have not yet released their brackets. As for Obama "doing a bracket when he should be working" ... hey, shouldn't you be working right now, too?
The president's picks for the women's tournament will be revealed Thursday. Enjoy the games, everyone.
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