March Madness: Obama Reveals His Picks for the 2021 NCAA Tournament, Here’s His Record Over The Past Few Years
As expected, one of America’s most famous basketball fans, former president Barack Obama, has made out his annual bracket for the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Division 1 Basketball Tournaments. Each year, the former Honolulu Punahou High School point guard joins millions of people across the country, filling out the bracket, which breaks 64 teams down to a Final Four and then a champion.
March Madness took a hiatus in 2020, with the NCAA canceling the tournament due to the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, which was still new as teams prepared for the competition. This year, the teams will match up, but the NCAA is only allowing “up to 25 percent with physical distancing.” Also, the entire tournament is being played in Indiana, mostly in Indianapolis, instead of the regular multiple venues in years past.
Here’s President Obama’s mens' and womens’ bracketology for this year from Obama.org and also some from the past few years.
This year, Obama picked No. 1 seed Gonzaga to take it all. Interestingly, he picked all No. 1 seeds for the Final Four, predicting along with the Bulldogs, Michigan, led for the first time by Juwan Howard, known as part of the Fab Five in the 90s at the school; Illinois, the winner of the 2021 Big Ten Championship, and Baylor, which won the Big 12 Championship earlier this month. What’s even more interesting is that he has the 2019 champion, No. 4 seed Virginia, losing in the First Round to No. 13 seed Ohio.
For the women’s title, Obama picked Baylor, coming in as a No. 2 seed, to defeat Stanford, after a prediction that both teams would defeat Maryland and North Carolina State. Stanford, joined UConn, South Carolina and NC State as No. 1 seeds.
In 2019, Obama picked Duke over North Carolina, two teams that have frequented the Final Four over the past couple of decades and boast NBA greats like Grant Hill and Michael Jordan. He rounded out the Final Four with Tennessee and Michigan. However, the reality was completely different. Virginia defeated Texas Tech to win the championship after both teams had deposed Michigan State and Auburn in the Final Four.
In the women’s tournament he didn’t fare much better. He picked UConn to take the title in a defeat over Baylor with Notre Dame and Mississippi State in the Final Four. But in reality, Baylor won over Notre Dame in the championship after edging out Oregon and UConn.
Obama had Michigan State as champion, taking the title over Virginia, with Villanova and North Carolina in the Final Four. But this one didn’t turn out as he predicted, or many others for that matter.
That year, a bracket-busting upset took place when No. 1 seed Virginia lost to 16 seed University of Maryland Baltimore County, changing the direction of the tournament. So instead of what Obama predicted, Loyola-Chicago, Kansas, Michigan and Villanova wound up in the Final Four, with Villanova beating Michigan for the title.
Obama came a little closer than the other predictions with this one but still didn’t pick the winner. He chose UConn to take the title over Mississippi State, with Louisville and Notre Dame rounding out the Final Four. In reality, Notre Dame took the championship over Mississippi State after the two put down Louisville and UConn in the Final Four.
This year, Obama was all net from the three-point line with his prediction. He put down North Carolina to win the championship and he was right, except that he picked them to beat Duke, with Kansas and Arizona also in the Final Four. The actual Final Four consisted of North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina and Gonzaga, who lost their championship bid to the Tar Heels.
But his shot wasn’t so accurate when it came to the women’s tournament. He picked UConn to beat Notre Dame, with South Carolina and Washington. UConn’s women’s squad has for years been one of the most dominant teams in the sport with 38 players drafted into the WNBA and led by coach Geno Auriemma, who has led them to 11 titles, so it’s easy to see why he picked them. But this year, UConn was upset by Mississippi State in the Final Four with an amazing overtime buzzer beater, ending their 111-game winning streak. Stanford beat South Carolina to meet Mississippi State in the championship, and ulitmately won the title.
The NCAA Tournament tips off Thursday afternoon (March 18) at 5:10 p.m. with the First Four games being played between Texas Southern and Mount St. Mary’s and later in the evening with Michigan State against UCLA. On Friday (March 19), the field of 64 teams, or the Big Dance, gets underway. The women’s tournament begins on March 21 and 22.
This year’s women’s Final Four is slated for April 2, and the men’s Final Four is April 3. Finally, the 2021 NCAA women’s national championship is April 4, and the NCAA Men’s National Championship is April 5.
Haven’t filled out your bracket yet? No problem, there’s still time. Head over to CBSSports.com to pick your teams in this year’s Bracket Challenge.