Ladies and gentlemen, President Barack Obama is a genius.
Yes, it partially has to do with the whole "leader of the free world" thing he's got going on, but mostly it's because, in his infinite wisdom, he has selected the same exact Final Four and national champion as I am projecting in this year's NCAA tournament.
What can I say? Great minds think alike...
As has become tradition, President Obama selected his bracket in front of ESPN's cameras, accompanied by college basketball analyst Andy Katz. You can check out his picks below, or his full bracket here.
Let's break down each of these Final Four picks by region, and also highlight some of the President's most noteworthy selections.
In the Midwest region, the Louisville pick makes sense. The Cardinals come into this tournament red hot with 10 straight wins, having won a share of the Big East regular-season title and the conference tournament. They also lead the nation in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com.
Even in the brutal Midwest, Louisville should survive.
However, President Obama has them beating Duke in the Elite Eight. I have serious questions as to whether Duke will get past Creighton in a potential round of 32 matchup, and I have Michigan State advancing to the Elite Eight.
For the most part, the President sticks with chalk in the Midwest. His only notable "upset" is Cincinnati defeating Creighton in the round of 64.
In the West, President Obama has Ohio State defeating Wisconsin to advance to the Final Four. Here, the President and I are on the same exact page.
I love how efficient Ohio State is on both sides on the floor (14th in KenPom's offensive efficiency, sixth in defensive efficiency). The Buckeyes play the best backcourt defense in the country and got hot at the perfect time of the season, winning eight straight to finish the season and win the Big Ten tournament, knocking off Indiana, Michigan State (twice), Wisconsin and Illinois during that stretch.
Meanwhile, I think the top portion of the bracket could potentially be a mess. Don't be shocked if Pittsburgh knocks out Gonzaga in the round of 32 and Wisconsin ends up advancing. The Badgers' ability to slow down the game, limit turnovers and play stifling defense will serve them well.
The President isn't so quick to dismiss Gonzaga, advancing them to the Sweet 16. But he is quick to dismiss Kansas State, already predicting the winner of the Boise State versus La Salle play-in game will beat the Wildcats in the round of 64.
He also likes Belmont over Arizona, a popular upset pick and one I'm also projecting.
In the South, the President is projecting Florida to beat Michigan to advance to the Final Four.
I'd be lying if I said I've completely figured out the top portion of the bracket. For example, I think Villanova would be a potentially brutal matchup for Kansas, but will the Wildcats get past North Carolina? Will anyone be shocked if VCU advances to the Elite Eight?
Still, Michigan has as good a chance to reach the Elite Eight as anyone. The Wolverines have major talent, even if they struggled down the stretch (6-6 to close the season).
The President goes all chalk on the top portion of the bracket.
Like the President, I love Florida. The Gators have all the pieces needed to make a long tournament run: strong guard play, defensive efficiency (second in the nation, according to KenPom), an experienced roster and a coach in Billy Donovan who has reached the Final Four three times and won two national championships.
Georgetown will give the Gators all they can handle, but at the end of the day, only having one major offensive threat in Otto Porter Jr. will do the Hoyas in.
President Obama has two upset picks in the round of 64 on the bottom portion of the bracket, rolling with Minnesota over UCLA—I'm with you, Mr. President—and Oklahoma over San Diego State.
Finally, we go to the East region, where the President has Indiana defeating Miami to reach the Final Four. It's hard to argue with either selection.
The Hoosiers have arguably the most talented starting five in the entire country, led by Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo. Indiana has the nation's most efficient offense and 19th-most efficient defense, according to KenPom, and won the regular-season title in the Big Ten, the country's strongest conference this year.
However, you could make the argument that Miami deserved to be a No. 1 seed. In fact, the Hurricanes are the first ACC team ever to win the regular-season title and conference tournament and not earn a No. 1 seed.
Led by point guard Shane Larkin, the Hurricanes are oozing with talent. But in my opinion, there isn't a more talented team in the country than Indiana, which just has the feel of a national champion.
The President was very conservative in the East, going all chalk throughout.
In the Final Four, President Obama sees Indiana defeating Florida, Louisville defeating Ohio State and Indiana winning the national title. Once again, I agree completely.
You may not agree with all of President Obama's picks, but don't dismiss them out of hand. He correctly identified Kentucky and Ohio State as Final Four teams last year, even if his pick of North Carolina to win the national championship didn't work out quite as well.
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