In a move that’s sure to bump his approval ratings in East Lansing, President Obama picked the Michigan State Spartans to win the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament in his annual “Barack-etology” event.
The President revealed his March Madness bracket on Wednesday’s 9:30 a.m. SportsCenter, the sixth straight year he’s unveiled his predictions with ESPN’s Andy Katz. In addition to a Michigan State vs. Louisville championship game, President Obama picked No. 1 seeds Arizona and Florida to make the Final Four.
"I know these are not imaginative picks, but I think they're the right ones," the President said of his Final Four.
The event may have been born from an obvious pun, but “Barack-etology” has now become something of a tradition. President Obama is a noted basketball enthusiast (his brother-in-law Craig Robinson is head coach of the Oregon State basketball team), and you get the sense that he would be filling out his own bracket privately even if this didn't double as a good PR opportunity.
In fact, ESPN reported that the President “ranked No. 2,080,996 out of 8.15 million entries” in last year’s Men’s Tournament Challenge on ESPN.com, “placing him in the 74.4th percentile.” In 2009, the first year of the event, he correctly selected the North Carolina Tarheels as the tournament winner.
President Obama started with his Sweet 16 picks and moved in, speaking knowledgeably with Katz about the teams and the reasoning behind his picks. Selecting the Kansas Jayhawks over the Ohio State Buckeyes, Obama said, “I think [Andrew] Wiggins stepped up for many of the games when [Joel] Embiid was out, and my expectation is that, at least by this round, Embiid will be enough of a factor that it will be tough for Ohio State to keep up with them.”
Sounds like solid reasoning to me.
Obama spoke on a few other sports-related topics with Katz, including raising the age limit to enter the NBA draft -- “I don’t begrudge young people, if they’ve got an opportunity to look after their family and get an NBA contract, and then go back to school hopefully and get their degree.” -- and what he would do if he won Warren Buffett's Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge.
“I’m sure somebody would ask me to pay down more of the federal debt,” Obama quipped. “Michelle might want a few shoes.”
Like many others, the President thinks that the momentum from Michigan State’s Big 10 tournament win, combined with the return of several injured players, will be enough to lift them to a national championship.
"Tom Izzo is a great tournament coach," President Obama said. "He knows how to motivate folks and he knows how to coach."
“Bring it home for me,” the President added. “It's been a while since I've won my pool."