Barack Obama revealed his NCAA men’s basketball tournament picks to ESPN today. The president plays populist in his rhetoric. But in his NCAA bracket, the president favors the one percenters of college basketball.
The presidential Final Four consists of #4 seed Louisville (Midwest), which won last year’s tourney; #1 seed Florida (South), a two-time national champion under coach Billy Donovan; perennial powerhouse #1 seed Arizona (West), which made the tournament every year between 1985 and 2009; and #4 seed Michigan State (East), a team that has made its way to the Sweet Sixteen in five of the last six years.
No Stephen F. Austin? No Coastal Carolina? No Mercer? The hardwood have-nots could have used the power of the president’s bully pulpit as inspiration to take on the basketball bullies. Surely the transformational figure who ushered in “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal” could have performed the minor miracle of bringing a national championship to the Weber State Wildcats and the long suffering basketball fans of Ogden, Utah.
And what’s with all the ranking? That’s so elitist. It’s a slur against equality for Albany and Florida to be labeled “16” and “1.” Who is to say Florida is better than Albany or Albany better than Florida? Why not share the best Gators with the Great Danes to make it more of an equal playing field, eh, equal court? And how about all those teams excluded from this aristocratic gathering? It’s snobbery to deny an invitation to SMU, Georgetown, and the rest. Tournament invitations for all! Why can’t all 350 Division I teams participate in March Madness? And why do we have divisions? If Barack Obama taught us anything, it’s that he’s a uniter, not a divider.
The president predicted an Indiana victory last year. But like every tournament since he’s been president, save for 2009 when he correctly forecast a North Carolina Tar Heels victory, the president’s picks didn’t match the outcome. But as ESPN points out, “Last year Obama’s men’s bracket ranked 2,080,996 out of 8.15 million entries in ESPN.com’s free ESPN Men’s Tournament Challenge, placing him in the 74.4th percentile.”
That’s pretty good. Pieces of Ukraine are falling apart and the health care plan’s a mess. But we finally have a president who really knows basketball, and for the next three weeks that’s all that matters. Thank goodness for distractions.