Press Release

Posted by Kristie Chong-Adler on March 14, 2012

President Obama Picks North Carolina over Kentucky for Men’s Title

PRINT VERSIONFILED IN: College Basketball - Men's, College Basketball - Women's, ESPN Digital Media TAGGED: , , , , ,

Video of Exclusive Interview and President Obama’s Entire Men’s Bracket on ESPN.com

Features of President Obama Filling out Brackets on SportsCenter: Women’s to Debut Friday, March 16, at 9 a.m. ET, Men’s to Re-air throughout Week Across Platforms

Notable Quotes from Interview with Andy Katz

Downloadable photos of President Obama with Katz and Burke

In an exclusive interview with ESPN.com senior basketball writer Andy Katz held Tuesday, March 13, President Barack Obama predicted North Carolina will defeat Kentucky in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game on April 2. President Obama also filled out his women’s bracket with ESPN basketball analyst Doris Burke, in a segment that will debut on SportsCenter on Friday, March 16, at 9 a.m. ET and will re-air throughout the day.

The feature with Katz debuted today, Wednesday, March 14, at 9 a.m. on SportsCenter and will re-air throughout the week across ESPN networks and platforms.

The president’s men’s bracket, the feature that debuted on today’s SportsCenter, a behind-the-scenes video of the White House and President Obama making his picks, and Katz’s blog post are available on ESPN.com.  The site will post the interview of President Obama completing his women’s bracket with Burke following the original airing on SportsCenter on Friday, March 16, at 9 a.m.

This marks the fourth straight year in which President Obama has completed a men’s bracket exclusively with ESPN and the third he has publicly provided his bracket for the women’s tournament. Insights from yesterday’s White House visit can be found in a podcast interview with Katz posted to ESPNFrontRow.com, with Burke’s interview to post later this afternoon.

In 2011, the Men’s Tournament Challenge game was the most popular bracket game in the nation with more than 5.9 million brackets, breaking the previous record high of 4.8 million brackets set in 2010 by 24 percent.  President Obama’s 2011 men’s bracket ranked 746,086 overall, placing him in the 87.4th percentile.  While he didn’t predict any of the Final Four teams in the previous two years, he correctly picked North Carolina to win the National Championship in 2009.  President Obama placed in the 77.09th percentile of his women’s bracket entry last year.

Both the Men’s Tournament Challenge presented by State Farm and Infiniti USA and Women’s Tournament Challenge games return for their 15th seasons and are free for fans to submit up to ten entries on ESPN.com.  Participants complete and submit a bracket of forecasted tournament game outcomes and points are awarded for each correct pick, with point values increasing as the tournaments progress.

Notable Quotes from Katz’s Interview with President Obama:

President Obama on what he looks for when filling out his bracket:

President Obama: Well a couple of things, I am big on momentum especially in a tournament like this, so whoever is looking hotter  at the end of the year, those are teams that I tend to be a little more inclined to pick. I like teams with good point guards, because I think the ability to control the game limits turnovers. I think that makes a big difference.  Being able to make free throws, that ends up counting a little bit. Other than that, it’s all throwing darts.”

On Kentucky against Iowa State:

President Obama: “Got to go with Kentucky at this point. I mean, there is a reason why they are the overall number one seed. Anthony Davis is an Illinois kid. He is proving to be unbelievably talented across the board. He keeps on getting better.  When they get out in the open court they are pretty hard to beat.”

On Kentucky’s Anthony Davis:

President Obama: “He just woke up one day and he’s 6’10”, but the way he plays defense, the number of shots he is altering, he looks a lot like Marcus Camby. That’s what he reminds me of.”

On Xavier-Duke matchup:

President Obama: “I have to go with Duke over Xavier. (Austin) Rivers is playing great. They’ve got as good as a backcourt as there is. The Plumlee brothers are terrific. A little thin off the bench. That’s the challenge.”

On Vanderbilt against his alma mater Harvard:

Katz: “Because you have Vanderbilt knocking off Harvard. This is the first time Harvard is in since 1946. You have a degree from Harvard.”
President Obama: “I have a degree from Harvard.  Arne Duncan, my Secretary of Education, played at Harvard. One of my best friend’s (Marty Nesbitt) son is on the team.  Having said all that, I think beating Vanderbilt – after they’ve been on this run at the end of the year, while they are playing very well right now – it’s just too much of a stretch.  I will (still) be rooting for Harvard.”

On NC State-Georgetown matchup:

President Obama: “I like teams that are hot late and NC State Wolfpack looked good right at the end.”
Katz: “But they didn’t close the games. Blew the lead at Duke couldn’t beat North Carolina at the end.”
President Obama: “They didn’t close the game – keep in mind I love Coach Thompson, I love Georgetown’s program. They didn’t anticipate being this good this year. I think they are a year away. Next year, they are going to make a great run.  I’m going to pick the Wolfpack on this one.”

On the lack of underdogs in his Sweet 16 picks:

Katz: “I don’t see underdogs. You consider yourself an underdog? Where are the underdogs here?”
Obama: “I am generally somebody who is rooting for the underdog.  But this year – when I look at Big Ten, when I look at Big 12 – there are just a lot of excellent teams that are pretty balanced.  I think that is going to get them through.”

On Baylor against Duke:

President Obama: “Alright this is clearly a sign that Reggie Love is not here anymore. I’m picking this one. I thought about this one hard. I went back and forth. In the end, I just think that Baylor is going to be a little bit stronger inside and they are going to be able to pull it out.”

On North Carolina in Final Four:

President Obama: “I am just a sucker for the Tar Heels. I love the way Marshall handles the ball. I love the way he distributes. They just have a balanced team.  I am worried about Henson.  This is all premise that Henson is going to be able to play.”

On his projected Championship Game winner:

President Obama: “I am going with North Carolina getting revenge for the regular season victory. They are an older team, more experienced team.  I think Kentucky is unbelievably talented, but I think Marshall’s play, Zeller’s play – I see North Carolina winning it all. And, since they won it for me the last time I picked them, hopefully I will be able to get a little redemption for the last two years.  This is another one where I went back and forth. I thought about it hard, I think this will be a great game. I think it will come down to the wire. But in the end, I think it goes back down to Chapel Hill.”

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