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Obama Takes Kansas to Win NCAA Men's Tournament


Updated 12:33 p.m. Eastern Time

President Obama, who correctly picked North Carolina to win last year's NCAA Men's Basketball tournament, has unveiled his pick for this year's winner: Kansas, the top-ranked team in the country.

Mr. Obama's picks show that he isn't exactly taking Cinderellas to make the Final Four: the president has Kansas, Kentucky, Kansas State, and Villanova as the last team's standing.

The first two of those teams are #1 seeds and the top two teams in the country; the other two are strong #2 seeds that many fans will have put through in their own brackets.

The president predicts that Kansas will defeat Kentucky in the national championship game in a rematch of coaches John Calipari (then at Memphis) and Bill Self from the 2008 championship game. "And I think, once again, Self wins," said Mr. Obama.

Missing from Mr. Obama's final four is Georgetown, a strong #3 seed that the president watched defeat Duke in January. He even did some play-by-play in the CBS broadcast booth. The president did take Georgetown to beat the region's #2 seed, Ohio State, and told ESPN's Andy Katz in announcing his picks that he expects the Hoyas to "making a nice little run."

"They don't have any seniors on their team, they're a young team, but I think they're getting better, I think [Coach John Thompson Jr.] does a great job," the president said, showing off his picks in the White House map room.

The president pointed to three upsets he had picked out: Murray State over Vanderbilt, Cornell over Temple, and Sienna over Purdue. He said Murray State is a "well-balanced" and "athletic" team and noted that Cornell "gave Kansas a run for its money."

Mr. Obama acknowledged he "got killed" in the first round last year with his picks, though his choice of North Carolina as national champion helped the president eventually earn a respectable finish.

The president said he loves the freshmen who play for Kentucky, though he said "the committee gave them a pretty tough draw here. But I think they're going to beat Texas." He said Kentucky-West Virginia in the Elite Eight could be the best game of the tournament, but that Wildcats would pull it out. "I think [coach John Calipari] will have them ready," he said.

(Check out Mr. Obama's full bracket here, or in the image below.)

He also said Kansas State, who he predicted would make the final four, impresses him. "They always play tough," said Mr. Obama.

The president said he was taking Duke over Louisville in the second round of the tournament because his aide Reggie Love, a Duke graduate, has him "brainwashed" -- though he predicted that would be a difficult game for the Blue Devils.

He also called Kansas State coach Frank Martin a "scary dude" for the stare-down he sometimes offers on the court.

"I could send him up to Congress to get them to vote for health care," the president joked.

Earlier Wednesday, the president named his picks for the NCAA women's final four. That list is made up of Connecticut, the dominant force in women's college basketball, as well as Stanford, Tennessee and Notre Dame. Those teams are all #1 seeds except for Notre Dame, a #2 seed.

White House

Full NCAA Tournament coverage at Bracket Breakdown: Predictions College Basketball Blog