Just One Cinderella Story? Obama Fills Out NCAA Tournament Bracket

Barack Obama,
The Associated Press

Barack Obama filled out his NCAA tournament bracket for the last time during his presidency on Wednesday morning. For not the first time, he picked Kansas to win it all.

“Bill Self owes me,” Obama said of the Kansas team when selecting them for the third time in eight years. “I’m putting Kansas in here. Coach, I’m just teasing. I’m not putting pressure on you.”

The president selected Kansas, Texas A&M, North Carolina, and Michigan State to play in the Final Four. Among the women, he selected Connecticut, Florida State, South Carolina, and Notre Dame, with the UConn Huskies winning it all.

He picked a single Cinderella to pull off a significant upset against a better-seeded team in his men’s bracket. The president went with 13-seed Hawaii over 4-seed California in the first time. In this case going against the favorite meant playing a favorite of sorts—the president, of course, hails from the fiftieth state. In a few other instances, Obama picked teams seeded in a worse number to beat teams the committee ranked higher. But these generally did not constitute clear upsets. Defending national champion Duke over top-seeded Oregon in the West or 9-seed Butler over Texas Tech in the East, to cite two examples, show that even when the president picks the worse-seeded team he still doesn’t go for Cinderellas.

“I have a tendency to pick programs, but I think that may just be an accident this year,” Obama told Andy Katz of ESPN. “There are some teams out there that are from the mid-majors that I think are high-quality teams, but they may not have the right matchup this year.”