The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Obama’s NCAA Bracket, Revisited

Posted on | April 4, 2011 | 3 Comments

Tonight, UConn meets the Cinderella boys of Butler in the NCAA basketball championship and, with the finalists set, I decided to take a look back at Obama’s brackets.

The first thing to note is how “safe” Obama played it: He picked all four No. 1 regional seeds to make it all the way to the Final Four. In fact, none of the top seeds made it to the Final Four, and Obama’s unwillingness to pick any of the No. 1’s to lose before the semi-finals cost him badly — beginning with No. 8 Butler’s defeat of top-ranked Pitt in their second-round Southeast regional game March 19. He lost a second of his Final Four picks on March 24, when No. 5 Arizona upset top-seeded Duke in a third-round West regional. The next day, March 25, No. 4 Kentucky knocked off No. 1 Ohio State in the third round of the East regionals, leaving Obama with just one remaining hope for the Final Four, Kansas, seeded No. 1 in the Southwest. Alas, the Jayhawks lost to Virginia Commonwealth in the quarterfinals.

Obama’s best region was the West, where he correctly picked the winner in every game in the first two rounds. But again, his success there was not because of any uncanny insight: He merely picked the higher-seeded team in every game, in a region where there were no upsets in the early rounds.

In other regions, Obama did accurately pick a few minor first-round upsets (e.g., No. 12 Richmond over No. 5 Vanderbilt, No. 11 Marquette over No. 6 Xavier), but he missed a bigger upset: No. 13 Morehead State over No. 4 Louisville.

Given the reliability of the Obama Jinx — which inevitably doomed whatever team the president supported in the NFL playoffs — I’m thinking this means that Butler (which Obama picked to lose in the second round) will triumph over Connecticut (which the prez picked to lose in the fourth round). Your mileage may vary.

Exit Question: Does the Obama Jinx apply to the Libyan rebels?

UPDATE: After the ugliest first half in living memory, Butler leads UConn 22-19. So the Obama Jinx appears to be working.

UPDATE II: Strong second half for UConn, which beats Butler and the Obama Jinx, 53-41.


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