March 16th, 2011
02:55 PM ET
It is true that the president did not go out on a limb when he told ESPN that top seeded Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, and Pitt are his Final Four picks this year.
But this is not exactly out of character for the president. For the fourth straight year that Obama has publicly filled out NCAA brackets, he has consistently stuck with the safe picks.
Of the 16 teams the basketball-playing politician has picked over the years in his Final Four brackets, 12 were number one seeds, three were number two seeds, and one was a “distant” fourth seed. One might go so far as to wonder if Obama thought Hillary Clinton would win the 2008 Democratic nomination for president!
So how has this safe strategy worked for the president so far?
In his three previous NCAA brackets, he accurately chose just one third of the Final Four teams. Only once did he correctly pick the tournament champions.
So while Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, and Pitt are headed to this year’s tournament at the top of their divisions, if the past presidential picks mean anything, one might expect a slightly different group of semifinalists.
But Kansas Jayhawks fans (the team the president picked to win the tournament this year) take heart. Although Obama inaccurately predicted they would win last year's tournament, when he guessed two years in a row that UNC would win, the Tarheels emerged victorious after his second prediction in 2009.
Barack Obama's past Final Four picks:
In 2008, Candidate Obama picked #1 seeds UNC, Kansas, and UCLA, as well as #4 Pitt. He predicted a UNC victory, but Kansas won.
In 2009, newly inaugurated President Obama chose #1 seeds Louisville, Memphis, and UNC, and #2 seeded Memphis. Again he chose UNC to win, but this time, he was correct.
In 2010, the president guessed top seeded Kansas and Kentucky would make it to the semifinals. The other two teams he picked, Villanova and Kansas State, were both ranked #2 in their divisions. He predicted Kansas would win, but Duke prevailed.