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Obama releases March Madness bracket, taking Duke over UNC

NCAA Midwest Region preview

Former President Barack Obama has revealed his March Madness picks, taking consensus favorite Duke, a No. 1 seed, to win the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship over archrival North Carolina in the final. In the women's tournament, Mr. Obama has perennial contender UConn defeating No. 1 seed Baylor.

Mr. Obama, a noted basketball fan, has made it an annual tradition to fill out a bracket for the men's and women's tournaments. (President Trump has not filled out a bracket while in office.)

The former president's picks have historically erred on the safe side, typically selecting top seeds in each region to make the Final Four. His Final Four this year includes two No. 2 seeds — Michigan and Tennessee.

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Former President Barack Obama's picks in the 2019 NCAA men's tournament. Obama Foundation

The former president correctly picked UNC to win the tournament in 2009. He picked two Final Four teams in 2012, and one each in 2013 and 2014.

Last year, he picked Michigan State to beat Virginia for the championship. Virginia lost in the first round, the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 in tournament history. Michigan State didn't make it out of the second round.

Mr. Obama was in attendance at a recent game between Duke and North Carolina when Duke star Zion Williamson broke through his shoe, injuring his knee. Williamson has since returned to action for the Blue Devils.

In the women's tournament, Mr. Obama has the University of Connecticut Huskies winning it all this year. The UConn Huskies are considered the most successful women's basketball program in the country, having won a record 11 NCAA Division I championship titles. 

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Former President Barack Obama's NCAA picks for the 2019 women's tournament. Obama Foundation

In a release accompanying his picks, the Obama Foundation said Mr. Obama's presidential center in Chicago will feature an extensive athletic program and activity center for the local community to use. He said it would be a "beautiful new place to exercise, practice, compete—and come together to develop the skills to help them lead. And yes, there will be a basketball court."

Mr. Obama memorably had a basketball court installed on the White House grounds during his time in office, and was regularly seen playing pickup games with members of his Cabinet. He's since announced he is lending his support to his favorite pastime by helping the NBA and International Basketball Federation (FIBA) launch a new league in Africa to grow the game across the continent.

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