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Baracketology Part 2: Obama picks North Carolina over Louisville in NCAA final

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March 18th, 2009

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I know, another post on President Obama's NCAA picks and this is a ratings site.  Chalk it up to March Madness!  Speaking of chalk, here's the latest on Obama's picks from ESPN, including interview quotes where the president explains that him not picking  Arizona had nothing to do with McCain...

President Obama’s Bracket:   North Carolina Beats Louisville for Title

BARACK-ETOLOGY:  Exclusive Interview Reairs on SportsCenter Tonight at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and Tomorrow’s 1 a.m. and Morning Reairs

** Video and President Obama’s Bracket on ESPN.com**

President Barack Obama is picking the North Carolina Tar Heels to defeat the Louisville Cardinals in the 2009 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game April 6.  He revealed the pick in his exclusive interview with ESPN.com senior basketball writer Andy Katz Tuesday, March 17.  The interview debuted today -- Wednesday, March 18 -- at noon ET on SportsCenter and will be reaired on tonight’s 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. editions as well as tomorrow’s 1 a.m. and subsequent morning reairs (all on ESPN).  The President’s entire bracket, a story by Katz on the experience and the segment that debuted on SportsCenter is available on ESPN.com.  An extended video story from the interview -- approximately 11 minutes -- will be available on ESPN.com later today.  President Obama’s bracket will appear alongside the millions of fans expected to play ESPN.com’s Tournament Challenge games.  Last year, the ESPN Men’s Tournament Challenge set a record with 3.65 million entries.

The President’s bracket and interview fulfilled a campaign promise made to Katz during an October 19, 2008, interview for a story about Craig Robinson, Oregon State head basketball coach and brother-in-law to the President.

Highlights from Katz’s Interview with President Obama:

On the six overtime marathon between Syracuse and Connecticut in the Big East Tournament (which concluded at 1:22 a.m. ET):

KATZ:  Now, I know you've been pretty busy, but how much did you stay up the other night for the sixth overtime?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I watched the highlights on ESPN.

KATZ:  Okay.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I can't be staying up until two in the morning.  I got work to do.

On his pick of VCU upsetting UCLA:

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  You know, VCU, I think, has been playing strong, and I hate to say this, because my brother-in-law is in the Pac-10 right now, but Pac-10 has been looking pretty weak this year.  I like that as an upset.

On picking Kansas over West Virginia in the second round:

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  West Virginia has been looking strong, but Kansas, young team, maturing -- Bill Self has done an outstanding job there.

KATZ:  And you just tapped the governor.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Absolutely.  Great state, and mom is from Kansas.

On picking Gonzaga over Illinois:

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I hate to do this to my home state team, but I think Gonzaga, a little stronger.

On not picking Arizona:

KATZ: Now, what happened -- everyone was picking Arizona.  What happened to Arizona?  Is it McCain, you know --

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  It has nothing to do with McCain.

KATZ: All right.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I think Arizona is a great state.  I love playing golf there.  But they just squeaked in.

On whether he looked at Katz’s picks to inform his own:

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I didn't look at your picks.  I promise you, to win, Andy, I'm not looking at your picks.  (Laughter.)

On his favorite memory of the Tournament:

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, look, the -- I graduated from high school in 1979.  And so the memory of Magic and Bird, Kelser, all those guys -- it was a -- it was an unbelievable game, and, you know, reinvigorated not only college basketball, but ultimately pro basketball, as well.  So for any kind of basketball fan, Indiana State/Michigan State, that still is one of the greatest games of all time.

Presidential message to North Carolina:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Now, for the Tar Heels that are watching, I picked you all last year -- you let me down.  This year, don't embarrass me in front of the nation, all right?  I'm counting on you.  I still got those sneakers you guys gave me.

On whether he will have a chance to follow the Tournament or watch the Championship game:

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I'm not going to be able to watch any game the whole way through, but we're going to be -- we're going to be checking in the scores.

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KATZ: Okay.  Now, can you get this on Air Force One, because I think you're going to be traveling then?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  We are going to be watching it, but it will probably be two in the morning where we are.

KATZ: Okay.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  We got the NATO summit (held in Europe), but we are going to be trying to catch as much of this as possible.  Air Force One does have DirecTV.

On their differing picks for the eventual NCAA National Champion:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: If Pitt wins, you'll get a -- some commemorative White House M&Ms.
KATZ: Okay. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right, and what do I get? ESPN t-shirt?
KATZ: Let's see -- I already gave you a hat. I guess -- yes --

PRESIDENT OBAMA: A water bottle?

KATZ: Yes, any ESPN swag. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Appreciate it. Thank you.

Said Katz following the interview, “President Obama made his picks as a sports fan, not as a politician. He was knowledgeable about the teams, and was even up to date on the latest injuries involving the contenders. He was confident with his picks and delivered an on-camera pep talk for the team he picked to win it all. It was clear that he enjoyed filling out his bracket like the rest of America.”

 
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