For the third straight year, President Obama has made public his NCAA men's basketball tournament bracket, and this year the Democrat has gone conservative: His final four consists of the four number one seeds, Duke, Kansas, Ohio State and Pittsburgh.
Mr. Obama, perhaps sensitive to charges that he isn't taking risks with his picks, noted in unveiling the bracket that he has never picked all #1 seeds before.
For the national champion, Mr. Obama selected Kansas - the same team he chose last year, and one that was upset in the second round on that tournament. He acknowledged that he "got hurt" with the Kansas pick last year but said he expected the team to make it up to him this year and beat Ohio State in the final.
The president acknoweldged he got "decimated" with his picks last year. Two years ago, the president correctly picked North Carolina as national champion.
Mr. Obama discussed his picks with ESPN's Andy Katz, a conversation you can see in the video at left. He called Brigham Young University's Jimmer Fredette, the leading scorer in the country, an "unbelievable" player but predicted the team would fall to Florida because BYU has "lost their inside presence."
The reference was to BYU's decision to suspend Brandon Davies for violating the school's honor code by engaging in premarital sex.
Mr. Obama also had kind words for Connecticut's Kemba Walker, saying he "plays like a pro already." But he said UConn's youth would cause it to fall to Duke in the Elite Eight.CBS Sports: Obama's Full Bracket
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Mr. Obama's decision to fill out the bracket and film the segment with ESPN prompted criticism from conservatives, who said he should be focused on other matters.
"Millions of Americans will be filling out a bracket this week, but only one of them is responsible for signing a federal budget, monitoring the crisis in the Middle East and assisting with a major humanitarian effort in Japan," said Repubilcan National Committee spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski. "With all of those pressing issues on the President's plate, we would be happy to hear the White House explain why filming an ESPN special on the NCAA tournament should be a priority on his public schedule."
Added new RNC chairman Reince Priebus in a Tweet: "How can @BarackObama say he is leading when puts his NCAA bracket over the budget & other pressing issues?"
Mr. Obama opened the ESPN segment by calling on Americans to go to usaid.gov and find charities through which they can make donations to the people of Japan. He said it would be a "great gesture" for Americans to donate, adding, "As you're filling out your brackets you can really help out some people who are going through a tough time."