President Obama and his family watch a college basketball game between the Oregon State Beavers and the Maryland Terrapins, Nov. 17, 2013.
G Fiume/Getty

Barack-etology: Obama’s March Madness picks, with a dose of health care


President Barack Obama has predicted a fourth seed team will win the final trophy in this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

In what has become a White House tradition in recent years, Obama revealed his March Madness picks on ESPN Wednesday, predicting the Michigan State University Spartans will take the 2014 championship title against fellow fourth seed Louisville in the final game. The president’s final four picks also include first seed teams Florida and Arizona. 

“I know these are not imaginative picks, but I think they’re the right ones,” Obama said. 

PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, 3/20/14, 1:00 AM ET

March Madness, with a health care twist

What does the NCAA men’s basketball tournament have to do with the Affordable Care Act? If you’re Pres. Obama, a lot.
The White House knows that the president’s NCAA predictions attract attention, and the blog post revealing his 2013 brackets got more traffic than anything else the White House posted last year. This year the president used the hype to his advantage, posting his full picks alongside the “16 Sweetest Reasons to Get Covered,” a match-up of reasons to sign up for health insurance in the final weeks of the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period. 

Obama joked about what he might do if he beat the odds and won Warren Buffet’s famous “billion dollar bracket” challenge, a promise to award $1 billion to anyone who can perfectly predict the tournament’s outcome. 

“I’m sure somebody would ask me to pay down more of the federal debt,” he said. “Michelle might want a few shoes.”

If his performance in last year’s pool is any indication, his chances are slim. The president’s bracket ranked No. 2,080,996 out of 8.15 million entries tracked last year, putting him in the 74.4th percentile. Rolling Stone noted that Obama has successfully picked only one national champion: North Carolina, in 2009. 

But Obama is hopeful his performance will improve this year. “My pick, Michigan State. Bring it home for me. It’s been a while since I won my pool,” he said. 

The Daily Rundown, 3/19/14, 11:49 AM ET

Pres. Obama reveals his NCAA final four picks

President Obama made his annual NCAA Basketball Tournament picks, but this year he tried to inject some politics into the discussion on ESPN. Chuck talks to ESPN’s Andy Katz about the picks.

Barack Obama and Sports

Barack-etology: Obama's March Madness picks, with a dose of health care