NEW YORK – President Barack Obama is picking Louisville, North Carolina, Memphis and Pittsburgh for the Final Four in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The First Hoops Fan indulged in one of the week’s most popular pastimes, filling out his NCAA bracket Tuesday for ESPN. The network, which is posting Obama’s bracket online Wednesday and showing Andy Katz’s report on “Sportscenter” at noon EDT, will reveal the president’s pick for NCAA champion then.
The president stuck primarily with No. 1 seeds. The sole exception was Memphis, seeded No. 2 behind Connecticut in the West regional.
“It was an educated bracket,” Katz said. “He knew what he was doing. It wasn’t some random kind of pick. There were no political favors or anything like that.”
A private campaign promise earned ESPN the hoops scoop.
Katz interviewed Obama during the presidential campaign last October for a story about the president’s brother-in-law, Oregon State head basketball coach Craig Robinson. After the interview, Obama invited Katz to play in a pickup basketball game on Election Day in Chicago, and he did.
Katz extracted a promise from Obama that if elected, the new president would reveal his NCAA picks to ESPN when the pairings were announced in March.
“They stayed true to their word and didn’t hesitate to get it done,” he said.
Even with a lot on his mind, Obama seemed up on the latest news, such as which teams had won conference tournaments and what players were injured, he said.
They even had some good-natured arguing. Katz is picking Wake Forest and Connecticut in his Final Four, along with North Carolina and Pittsburgh. The two men also disagreed on the eventual national champion.