Debating President Obama's 2009 March Madness Bracket

eCorrespondent IMarch 18, 2009

No one person is more is excited about maddening arrival of college basketball’s annual March 65-team tournament more than our very own President—Barack Obama.

We all know about President Obama's love of basketball and college sports.

He impressed his brother-in-law, Oregon State head coach Greg Robinson, with his playground ball skills before courting the First Lady. Obama plans to rid the White House of its single old white man's bowling lane, which was built under the north drive and during President Dick Nixon's term, in favor of a basketball court.

And we all know about his obsession with revamping the college football Bowl Championship Series to allow for a playoff—well now the two are finally dancing with the selection committee that chose them.

Today, ESPN's Bracketologist Andy Katz sat down with Obama to talk college hoops and all the President's Final Four and tourney picks.

Whether Obama settles for one integrity sheet or if he's filled out multiple brackets, there's sure to be some debate over who the leader of the free world thinks will win the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

Judging from the ESPN story, President Obama usually fills out multiple brackets, but he's so busy trying to fix the U.S. economy he barely finds any free time to watch SportsCenter, let alone four full days of non-stop mesmerizing college basketball highlights.

Why should President Obama be worried about frivolous matters, such as if Ty Lawson's toe hampers the UNC Tar Heels' run, if a snubbed Jon Callapari team in Memphis can prove all the naysayers wrong, and if the black-and-white striped zebras' calls, or no-calls, impact on the physical Big East teams like UConn, Syracuse, Louisville, and Pitt negatively, when he has much more important matters at hand?

Who cares? This is March Madness, and this is not political column, so no political jargon.

First problem with President Obama's picks: His second guessing. Second problem, he's lack of Cinderella sleeper picks, or upsets in general.

Question marks surround both his Elite Eight games in the Midwest and West regions.

Granted, the games tipoff at High Noon Thursday so he still has time. But no American wants to see their President be this indecisive about a basketball game, especially sports fans. Voters expect the President to show decisiveness in the more pressing issues that impact more American lives than who wins a basketball game or an Oval Office pool.

Okay...Now, no more political jive.

Final Four

No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 2 Michigan St. and No. 1 UConn  vs. No. 2 Memphis are those games President Obama worries about busting his bracket.

He's got the No. 1 Cardinals prevailing over the Spartans, but opts for the No. 2 Tigers over the Huskies.

Interesting way to go there, given the rest of his bracket seems to favor the Big East.

Then, Obama backs-out of an all Big East final when he switches his Pitt pick over UNC. In the Championship game, Obama first picks Louisville, but then selects UNC to win the whole shebang.   

West Region

Yes! UConn, but not all the way to the Final Four.

Only one upset pick, with No. 10 Maryland over No. 7 California.

No respect for the Pac-10 here from the President. First no Arizona upset in the 5-12 game (actually President Obama didn't pick a single No. 12 to advance past the first round).

Maybe it's because former rival Senator John McCain is from Arizona or that the Wildcats almost always earn an at-large berth based on tourney rep, and Kurt Warner is the only good athlete to come out of Northern Iowa.

Pinch yourself, change is coming to America.

More chalk here, until Obama picks the No. 5 Purdue Boilermakers over No. 4 Washington Huskies.

No surprise there, he's a Big Ten guy. He must have thought No. 6 Marquette was in the Big Ten too because he had them over No. 3 Missouri, but then he changed it so now the Tigers play the Tigers, with No. 2 Memphis advancing to the Final Four.  

That puts his Final Four at three No. 1s—Louisville, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh—with the No. 2 Memphis Tigers returning the Final Four.

Below you'll find a breakdown of President Obama's original bracket picks.

Midwest Region

Chalk it up to his Chicagoan roots.

Not a single upset pick in the first round all the way to Final Four.

Not too much to criticize here besides how someone, as sports-savvy as Mr. President considers himself, avoids taking a chance on an underdog is beyond normalcy.

Sure, everyone and their brother-in-law will dissect every single one of his picks, but why not take a chance?

Maybe, he gains votes in some constituencies and loses some in others. Sounds just like his picks in this region.

East Region

Finally, Barack has picked an upset.

Well not really.

A No. 9 Tennessee Volunteers over No. 8 Oklahoma State isn't considered an upset, especially since President Obama first picked Cowboys. Since President Obama shows a commitment to community service and volunteerism, no surprise pick here.

Then there's his No. 11 VCU over No. 6 UCLA, which he question marks. So who does he truly favor?

It doesn't matter who he favors or who wins because he has No. 3 Villanova losing in the Sweet 16 to Duke.

No. 5 Florida State is his sleeper, but he first had No. 4 Xavier beat them.
Still, he's chalk for most the region, with No. 1 Pitt over No. 2 Duke in the Elite Eight.

South Region

Most people agree—the South region is by far the most difficult to predict.

Clearly, President Obama agrees with the people—and that's why the people elected him.

His No. 9 Butler Bulldogs upset pick over No. 8 LSU doesn't surprise many since the SEC sucks this year and the Bulldogs have a tourney pedigree.

Plus, President Obama picked against all other SEC team, besides the Vols, and it's not an upset.

Then he question marks a No. 11 Temple Owls team win over a No. 6 Arizona State team.

His only big upset in his entire bracket, if he stays with them over the Sun Devils.

Better than none I guess, but he's got them losing to the No. 3 Orange either way.

Obviously, President Obama had trouble picking against a No. 10 Michigan team over a No. 7 Clemson.

First he picked Clemson, then crossed them out. Finally, he settled on them, even picking them to beat the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners and lose to Syracuse.

Later, he switched to the Sooners to chalk up his Sweet 16 in the South region.
President Barack Obama's 2009 March Madness Picks

Sweet 16

UNC vs. No. 4 Gonzaga Bulldogs
'Cuse  vs. Oklahoma
Duke vs. Nova
Pitt vs. No. 5 Florida State
Louisville vs. Wake
No.3 Kansas vs. Michigan St.
UConn vs. Purdue
Mizzou vs. Memphis

Elite Eight

Louisville vs. Michigan St.
UConn vs. Memphis
Pitt vs. Duke
UNC vs. 'Cuse

Final Four

Louisville vs. Memphis
UNC vs. Pitt


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