Press Release

Posted by Michael Humes on March 18, 2014

Barack-etology: President Obama Fills Out Men’s & Women’s Brackets in ESPN Exclusive

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ESPN.com post on President Obama’s men’s Final Four picks
ESPN.com post on President Obama’s women’s Final Four picks

  • ESPN.com Unveils President Obama’s Final Four Selections of:
       Men’s: Arizona, Florida, Louisville and Michigan State
       Women’s: Connecticut, Louisville, Notre Dame and Stanford
  • Excerpts of Interview on 11 p.m. SportsCenter
  • Full Men’s Interview to Debut on Wednesday, March 19, and Women’s on Friday, March 21; Brackets Available on ESPN.com afterwards
  • Special ESPNU Tournament Countdown: Barack-etology Wednesday, March 19

In an ESPN exclusive, President Barack Obama filled out his bracket predictions for the 2014 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships today with Andy Katz and Rebecca Lobo. ESPN.com unveiled his men’s and women’s Final Four predictions at 8 p.m. ET while excerpts of the “Barack-etology” interview will begin running on tonight’s 11 p.m. SportsCenter on ESPN. His complete men’s and women’s brackets will debut on the 9 a.m. SportsCenter on Wednesday, March 19, and Friday, March 21, respectively. Both interviews will also be available on ESPN.com and ESPN Mobile platforms, and on subsequent editions of SportsCenter and various ESPN platforms, following the debuts.

The President is predicting a Men’s Final Four of Arizona, Florida, Louisville and Michigan State, and a Women’s Final Four of Connecticut, Louisville, Notre Dame and Stanford. ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3 and ESPN FULL COURT will present all 63 games from the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship for the 11th consecutive year from March 23-April 9.

This marks the sixth straight year President Obama has completed a men’s bracket exclusively with ESPN and the fifth he has publicly provided his bracket for the women’s tournament.

Katz – an ESPN.com senior writer, on air reporter, and host of ESPNU’s Katz Korner and The Experts – conceived the idea of the President filling out a bracket on air following an interview with him in 2008. He has conducted the interview with the President on his tournament predictions all six years. This marks the first time Lobo – who will serve as a studio analyst on ESPN’s coverage of the entire NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship – has interviewed the President on his women’s bracket selections.

President Obama’s men’s and women’s brackets will be posted on ESPN.com shortly after each is unveiled on SportsCenter and will appear alongside those from the millions of fans expected to play in ESPN.com’s free ESPN Men’s Tournament Challenge presented by Acura and Allstate and ESPN Women’s Tournament Challenge presented by Capital One games.

In addition, ESPNU will televise Tournament Countdown: Barack-etology on Wednesday, March 19, at 5:30 p.m. The second consecutive year of the special program will include additional footage, behind-the-scenes access and bracket analysis.

In 2013, President Obama’s men’s bracket ranked 2,080,996 out of 8.15 million entries, placing him in the 74.4th percentile. He correctly picked Louisville to play in the championship game, but predicted Indiana, which was not in the Final Four, to win it all. President Obama placed in the 69.2th percentile of his women’s bracket entry last year.

History of President Obama’s Final Four & Championship Predictions
President Obama has selected 15 different teams to reach the men’s Final Four. Seven of the teams have been picked to reach the Final Four in more than one year, led by Ohio State (2013, 2012, 2011) and Louisville (2014, 2013, 2009) with three each. The five teams with two selections are Florida (2014, 2013), Kansas (2011, 2010), Kentucky (2012, 2010), North Carolina (2012, 2009) and Pittsburgh (2011, 2009). The remaining eight teams include Arizona (2014), Duke (2011), Indiana (2013), Kansas State (2010), Memphis (2009), Michigan State (2014), Missouri (2012) and Villanova (2010).

In the previous five years, the President has picked three different teams to win the men’s championship, taking Indiana (over Louisville in 2013), Kansas (over Ohio State in 2011 and Kentucky in 2010) and North Carolina (over Kentucky in 2012 and Louisville in 2009). His prediction for this year’s championship will be revealed on Wednesday.

The President has included Connecticut in his Final Four all five years and Notre Dame (2014, 2013, 2012, 2010) on four occasions. Baylor (2013, 2012, 2011) and Stanford (2014, 2011, 2010) have been predicted to reach the Final Four three times, Tennessee (2011 and 2010) two, and California (2013), Louisville (2014) and St. John’s (2012) one each. President Obama has picked two different teams to win the championship in the previous four women’s brackets: Baylor (over Notre Dame in 2013 & 2012) and Connecticut (over Baylor in 2011 and Stanford in 2010).

Tournament Challenge History
Last year, the Men’s Tournament Challenge game was again the most popular bracket game in the nation, with nearly 8.15 million brackets, up 26.3 percent over 2012 (approximately 6.45 million) and setting a new record. At the peak period, fans registered 8,123 brackets per minute (135 brackets per second), among those of which was a bracket from President Barack Obama.

Both the Men’s Tournament Challenge and Women’s Tournament Challenge games return for their 17th seasons and are free for fans to submit up to 10 entries on ESPN.com.  At the end of the tournament, all Men’s Tournament Challenge entries that finish in the top 1% are entered in a random drawing for the $10,000 Best Buy Gift Card prize. In the Women’s Tournament Challenge, entries that finish in the top 1% are entered in a random drawing for a $5,000 Best Buy Gift Card. Entries for the Men’s Tournament Challenge game will be accepted until just prior to the tipoff of the Tournament’s first game on Thursday, March 20. The Women’s Tournament Challenge will accept registration until just prior to tipoff of the first game on Saturday, March 22. Fans will be able keep track of their brackets while on the go with the free-to-download ESPN Tournament Challenge app, now available in the App Store and Google Play. The app provides access to brackets with personalized “My Bracket” and “Live Bracket” sections displaying scores and schedules during the tournament.

2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament on ESPN Platforms
ESPN.com will provide complete coverage of the men’s tournament from its lineup of experts and analysts including Andrea Adelson, Eamonn Brennan, C.L. Brown, Kieran Darcy, Chantel Jennings, Andy Katz, Joe Lunardi, Myron Medcalf, Dana O’Neil, Rick Reilly, Adam Rittenberg, Mitch Sherman, Jake Trotter and Austin Ward, as well as ESPN Insiders Jeff Goodman and John Gasaway. Collectively, they will break down the brackets and provide analysis, commentary and features. Additionally, ESPN.com’s Basketball Power Index (BPI) will be available for fans to reference the latest power rankings by team to assist in their bracket picks.

espnW.com will also provide news, analysis and commentary throughout the women’s tournament, from Selection Monday through the Women’s Final Four in Nashville, Tenn. Columnists will provide coverage of each round of games from coast to coast, with video highlights. Other plans include contributions from ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo, the continued coverage of five top players in ESPN’s Need to Know initiative, stats, analysis and stories on other players to watch. Tourney Snapshots, which includes team- and fan-submitted social media photos and video with behind-the-scenes access to teams, players and coaches, will return for the second consecutive season.  The staff at espnW.com and a handful of WNBA players will also face off in a Women’s Tournament Challenge group.

ESPN Insider will also include a number of additional exclusive features before, during and after the tournament to help predict who is most likely to be this year’s Cinderella and who will be the breakout stars of the tournament.

  • Bilas Bracket: ESPN’s Jay Bilas provides his take on how the tournament will shake out with a comprehensive look at every round;
  • Giant Killers: Insider’s signature analytics model returns for its ninth year of picking the upsets using key statistical markers and team comparisons;
  • Joe Lunardi’s Team Previews: A group team-by-team break down of the field led by ESPN’s Bracketologist;
  • Goodman’s Secret Storylines: Goodman divulges key notes on players and teams that can make or break your bracket;
  • Insider Bracket Cheat Sheet: A one-stop-shop for bracket advice from Insider’s foremost college hoops experts.
  • Dance Lessons: Hoops stat guru Gasaway explains how the past and the present provide warning signs for this season’s teams;
  • College Basketball Experts Blog: Tips and insight from ESPN analysts Fran Fraschilla, Seth Greenberg  and Miles Simon before, during and after the big dance;

Additional predictor and analyzer tools available exclusively for ESPN Insider members – and all accessible online and on the mobile Web for the first time – include:

  • Bracket Predictor – Tournament Edition: A “wizard” style interface leading through the process of making picks for a bracket, giving users predictions and other relevant information for every matchup. Once the user completes all picks, the bracket can be transmitted to ESPN Tournament Challenge;
  • Game Predictor: Provides users with predictions and statistical information for actual or hypothetical basketball matchups within the ESPN Tournament Challenge page, giving tips and guidance for every matchup without leaving the screen;
  • Bracket Analyzer: Easily import brackets from ESPN’s Tournament Challenge and receive an analysis that demonstrates and predicts areas of possible improvement to better the chances for victory.  The computer generated report includes round-by-round survival odds for all of a user’s game winner picks, the expected number of user picks to be correct, a high level analysis of the risk level of the user’s picks and recommendations for changing certain picks;
  • PickCenter: Offers fans a complete preview of each game complete with predictions, simulations, odds analysis, line moves, significant injuries and more;
  • Joe Lunardi Bracket Predictions: A tool that presents a variety of predictions and odds generated by Team Rankings and based on Lunardi’s projected 2014 tournament bracket, as published in the “Bracketology” section of ESPN.com.

ESPN Mobile will also provide complete coverage from writers and analysts, keeping fans up-to-date on the latest news and highlights on mobile devices via a special section on the ESPN mobile Web. Additionally, fans can sign up for ESPN Alerts to receive real-time information on games (scores, starts, etc.), breaking news, upsets and more.

Tournaments on ESPN International
Outside of the U.S., ESPN International has exclusive multimedia and syndication rights to the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments. The telecasts will reach sports fans in 165 countries and territories across 35 television and broadcast networks outside the United States. ESPN International networks will provide coverage in Latin America (Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America), Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, and via TSN and RDS in Canada. Additionally, worldwide, ESPN Syndication has completed deals to distribute the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship to local television clients reaching tens of millions of homes in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Japan and across Southeast Asia.

ESPN broadband services around the world – under the ESPN Player, ESPN Play and ESPN3 brands – are also providing live and on-demand coverage of some, or all, of the tournament in more than 50 countries in the UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Australia.  

ESPN International’s coverage will feature Jay Bilas, Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale calling the Fal Four. National Semifinal action will take place Saturday, April 5, beginning at 6 p.m. and the National Championship will be held Monday, April 7, at 9 p.m. Shulman will work both semifinals, while Bilas and Vitale will work a semifinal each. Shulman will team up with Vitale to call the National Championship.

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