In what has become an annual tradition throughout his presidency, President Barack Obama revealed his bracket for the 2014 NCAA tournament in an ESPN SportsCenter segment entitled "Barack-etology" on Wednesday morning.
Although the SportsCenter special focused largely on President Obama's picks from the Sweet 16 on, his entire bracket can be viewed below:
The president is well-known for his love of basketball, as he played the sport in high school and has organized some high-profile pickup games at the White House.
Because of that, it is only natural that President Obama fills out a bracket just like millions of other Americans do on a yearly basis. As is often the case when it comes to predicting the chaos of March Madness, the president's knowledge doesn't always lead to great results.
According to ESPN.com, the president has picked the correct national champion just once. That came back in 2009 when he selected the North Carolina Tar Heels.
President Obama did perform admirably last year, finishing in 2,080,996th place out of 8.15 million ESPN.com bracket entries, placing him in the 74.4th percentile.
Here is a closer look at the key aspects of President Obama's 2014 bracket entry as he tries to make sense of March Madness.
If there were any questions about whether or not President Obama closely follows the sport of college basketball, they were answered in the form of his Final Four selections. Obama's picks were a mix of sensibility and trendiness as he advanced No. 1 seeds Florida and Arizona as well as No. 4 seeds Louisville and Michigan State to Arlington, Texas, per ESPN.com.
Florida is the No. 1 team in the nation and the top overall seed in the tournament, so picking the Gators to advance out of the South Region doesn't come as a big surprise. The same can be said for Arizona in the West, as it has been among the top teams in the country all season long.
Louisville and Michigan State may be No. 4 seeds, but they are playing better than perhaps any other team right now. The Cardinals won the American Athletic Conference title and were considered candidates for a No. 1 seed. Louisville won the national title last year, and Rick Pitino's squad is in fine form once again.
The Spartans are always a factor in March, and even though they weren't being talked about much as potential contenders just a few weeks ago, Tom Izzo's team went on an impressive run to win the Big Ten tournament. Not only are Michigan State and Louisville red hot, but they have both players and coaches who know how to win on the big stage.
Adam Levitan of Rotoworld mentioned that some of Obama's Final Four picks ranked as the trendiest of the tournament:
Jeez. EVERYONE is on MSU/LVille. Value is in fading. RT @MikeHumesESPN President Obama picks Michigan St (over Louisville) to win title.— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) March 19, 2014
According to ESPN.com, the president is especially impressed with Izzo's ability to rally the troops come tournament time.
"Tom Izzo is a great tournament coach," Obama said. "I've got Michigan State going all the way."
While the president is often faced with plenty of opposition in Washington, Zane McMillin of MLive.com doesn't believe that Obama will have much trouble finding common ground with college basketball observers when it comes to his championship pick:
I think this is an area where we can find bipartisan agreement: President Obama picks MSU to win NCAA tourney http://t.co/rUJHRujJ7s— Zane McMillin (@mcmilzz) March 19, 2014
In winning the national title, President Obama has the Spartans getting past Louisville in the championship game. The Cardinals return a strong core that helped them win the national title last year, including Russ Smith and Luke Hancock, but the president believes that Michigan State's momentum will ultimately win out.
Some criticize the president for a lack of shocking selections, but he feels as though his projected Final Four is correct albeit somewhat predictable, per ESPN.com.
"I know these are not imaginative picks, but I think they're the right ones," Obama said.
While Obama's recent history has been up and down in terms of bracket predictions, he may very well be due for a strong showing.
One thing that really sticks out when it comes to President Obama's bracket is a lack of upset picks. The president doesn't have any team higher than a No. 4 seed reaching the Elite Eight, and his biggest Sweet 16 "longshots" are No. 6 North Carolina and No. 6 Ohio State.
With that said, President Obama's bracket isn't completely devoid of surprises. The president has a pair of No. 12 seeds advancing to the round of 32, with Harvard defeating No. 5 Cincinnati in the East Region and North Dakota State upending No. 5 Oklahoma in the West Region.
Harvard played the spoiler role last year by taking out No. 3 New Mexico as a No. 14 seed. While the pick makes basketball sense, perhaps it also has something to do with the fact that the president attended Harvard Law School, according to Justin Sink of The Hill:
Obama taking his law school — Harvard — in a 5/12 upset over Cincinnati— Justin Sink (@JTSTheHill) March 19, 2014
North Dakota State is also an interesting selection due largely to the presence of senior guard Taylor Braun. He is perfectly capable of taking games over for the Bison, and the Sooners figure to have their hands full with him.
The only other double-digit seed that President Obama has making it out of the second round is No. 10 Arizona State. The Sun Devils will face No. 7 seed Texas in the Midwest Region. That figures to be one of the most intriguing matchups in the round of 64, and the president is banking on a minor upset.
Handicapping President Obama's Chances
There is no doubt that the president decided to play it safe for the most part, and while that should allow him to remain fairly competitive in ESPN's bracket contest, it also caps his potential significantly.
How will President Obama's bracket perform?
Based on the amount of parity that exists in college basketball right now, one can only assume that some big-time upsets are looming. The president didn't chase them to his credit, but his conservative approach can only take him so far.
Also, since his Final Four and championship game selections are right in line with what the majority of fans seem to believe, there isn't much of an opportunity for him to differentiate himself.
The president proved that he has great college basketball knowledge once again, but don't expect him to win any bracket pools this year.
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