Obama picks Kansas to win the men’s NCAA basketball tournament

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Perhaps it’s not wise to put too much stock in the President’s picks for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

President Barack Obama’s tournament bracket was revealed on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” on Wednesday morning, his final bracket as president. Just once in his presidency has he successfully predicted the men’s national champion: That came back in 2009, his first year in office, when North Carolina won the title.

In years past, the President has gone chalk, mostly picking favorites. But he changed it up a little bit this year, putting Texas A&M, a No. 3 seed in the West region, in the Final Four. Joining the Aggies in Obama’s Final Four is No. 2 seed Michigan State and No. 1 seeds Kansas and North Carolina.

For the championship game, Obama predicts the Jayhawks, the No. 1 overall seed, will defeat the Tar Heels “in a squeaker.”

“Bill Self owes me,” Obama joked, referencing the Kansas head coach.

Obama typically doesn’t pick a “Cinderella” team, normally steering clear of major upsets. But he has a reason for typically going chalk.

“I am just not knowledgeable enough with all the teams these days to be able to pick somebody who’s an 8 seed to win the tournament,” Obama said. Instead, he has a tendency to pick teams with well established coaches, such as Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Kentucky’s John Calipari or Kansas’ Self.

“They know how to take — even if they’re blue chip freshmen — and mold them so that by the time the tournament comes around they’re ready. Generally speaking, I haven’t always picked the right (one) of the top four teams, but typically, it’s been one of the top teams that’s ended up winning the tournament.”

A notable upset, however, is what Obama admittedly calls a “homer” pick. He went with his home state, No. 13 seed Hawaii, to snag a win in the round of 64 with a potential stunner against No. 4 seed California.

“If they get hot shooting threes, that’s a possible upset,” Obama said.

As for the President’s game, he hasn’t played much lately.

“I’ve hung it up for a while,” Obama said. “I figured, let’s not pop an Achilles in the last 10 months of my presidency.”

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