March madness infects us all, including the President of the United States, Barack Obama. Just like the rest of us, when March rolls around, President Obama makes his NCAA basketball tournament picks. And just like the rest of us, the president is usually wrong. For the last six years, Obama has made his predictions and this year is no different. The President has picked Michigan State to win it all in this year’s version of March Madness. What else can we learn from the President’s bracket?
Let’s start with the Championship game: the President has Michigan State defeating defending champ, Louisville, to win it all this year. It has become a tradition of sorts for the President to sit down with ESPN and reveal his bracket picks, in what they are now calling “Barack-etology.” The remainder of Obama’s final four consists of No. 1 overall seed Florida and top seed Arizona. Both Louisville and Michigan State are No. 4 seeds.
In the six years that the President has been making his picks, he has only identified the eventual champion one time – in 2009 when he tabbed the University of North Carolina. Last year, the President turned in a strong performance in his March Madness bracket picks. He ranked No. 2,080,996 out of 8.15 million entries in the Tournament Challenge, placing him in the 74.4th percentile. Not bad for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time on his hands for basketball analysis.
As for his pick of MSU, Obama appears to be putting his faith in coaching:
“Tom Izzo is a great tournament coach. I’ve got Michigan State going all the way…. He knows how to motivate folks and he knows how to coach. My pick: Michigan State. Bring it home for me. It’s been a while since I’ve won my pool.”
Many analysts have identified Louisville and Michigan State as two of the hottest teams coming into the tournament. They have both won their respective conference tournaments and appear to be seeded a little bit too low by the selection committee. In Arizona and Florida, the president is playing the favorites. One of the trends that you can see by actually analyzing his picks over the years, the President does not step out on the limb and pick underdogs to go far in March Madness. Obama himself conceded that he may be called out for making “safe” picks: “I know these are not imaginative picks, but I think they’re the right ones.”
Time will tell if the President is correct this March, or if he played it too cautiously. Based on his previous record in in the tournament, I’d suspect that the Spartan fans aren’t jumping for joy that they were President Obama’s March Madness pick to win it all.
[Image via ESPN]