ESPN today released President Barack Obama's official bracket for the NCAA men's basketball tournament, which has North Carolina beating Kentucky to win the title. Obama said of his strategy behind filling out his bracket, “I’m big on momentum, especially in a tournament like this one, so whoever is looking hotter at the end of the year those are teams I tend to be a little more inclined to pick." He noted he likes teams "with good point guards,” but otherwise it is "all throwing darts.” Obama picked North Carolina because “they’re an older team, a more experienced team." Obama: "Since they won it for me the last time I picked them (in '09), hopefully I’ll be able to get a little bit of redemption for the last two years." Obama picked Kansas to win the championship the past two years, and he said he told Kansas coach Bill Self, “Coach, come on man, you’re killing me.” Meanwhile, Obama and ESPN's Andy Katz have the same Final Four picks, and Obama said, "Had I known that you were going the same way I might have changed.” The following are some highlights of Obama going through his bracket and explaining his thoughts on some teams and his selections ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/14).
- Kentucky: “Unbelievably talented across the board.”
- VCU: “I love their coach, I love their team, I love their spirit but Indiana’s too tough.”
- Duke: “They’ve got as good of a backcourt as there is.”
- Michigan State: “I love Izzo, so Michigan State gets through this one (over Memphis).”
- Missouri: “Mizzou looks very good to me.”
- Harvard: “I’ll be rooting for Harvard, but it’s just too much of a stretch.”
- Florida State: “Having won the ACC, they’re tested.”
- Ohio State: “I like Ohio State. I think Sullinger’s terrific.”
- N.C. State: “I like teams that are hot late and N.C. State Wolfpack look good right at the end.”
PUTTING SOME ENGLISH ON IT: Obama and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron attended last night's Western Kentucky-Mississippi Valley State first-round NCAA tournament game, which marked Cameron's first time attending a basketball game. He said of the experience, “I'm enjoying it. It's pretty fast and furious. It’s hard to follow sometimes exactly who's done what wrong.” CBS' Clark Kellogg asked, “Was our president helping you follow the game?” Cameron: “He was giving me some tips. He's going to help me fill out my bracket.” Obama replied, “And he's going to teach me cricket because I don't understand what's going on with that cricket thing.” Kellogg noted this was Obama’s first live NCAA tournament game and he asked why the president decided to attend. Obama said, “I thought it was going to be wonderful for the Prime Minister to have a chance not only to see a basketball game for the first time, but also to come to the great state of Ohio because sometimes when we have foreign visitors, they’re only visiting the coasts." Obama said of his alma mater, Harvard, making the tournament, “The amount of excitement generated is terrific. How far they can go is another question.” Cameron spoke for a minute about the upcoming London Games and said, "We're going to be rolling out the red carpet to the whole world. Everything is on time, on budget, all the stadia are built, everything’s ready to go. We’re just ready to welcome a lot of people to London. My message to people is to come and visit, come and see the Olympics and come and stay.” Obama added, “Should be a pretty good basketball team showing up on behalf of the United States.” Obama later was asked how much of the tournament he would actually get to watch. He said, “The truth of the matter is I probably will not see more than the Final Four and even that I may end up seeing in snippets" ("Western Kentucky-Mississippi Valley State," truTV, 3/13).