President Obama Fills Out Men’s & Women’s Brackets in ESPN Exclusive
Features to Debut on SportsCenter: Men’s on Wednesday, March 16, and Women’s on Friday, March 18; Both Brackets Available on ESPN.com
President Obama’s Final Four Selections:
Men’s: Duke, Kansas, Ohio State and Pittsburgh
Women’s: Baylor, Connecticut, Stanford and Tennessee
President Barack Obama filled out his bracket predictions for the 2011 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments exclusively with ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz (men’s) and ESPN basketball analyst Doris Burke (women’s). The segments will debut on ESPN’s SportsCenter Wednesday, March 16, at noon ET and Friday, March 18, at 9 a.m., 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.
This marks the third straight year in which President Obama has completed a men’s bracket exclusively with ESPN and the second he has publicly provided his bracket for the women’s tournament.
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 ESPN Men’s Tournament Challenge presented by State Farm and Sprint and ESPN Women’s Tournament Challenge.
The President is predicting a Men’s Final Four of Duke, Kansas, Ohio State and Pittsburgh and a Women’s Final Four of Baylor, Connecticut, Stanford and Tennessee. ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3.com and ESPN FULL COURT will present all 63 games from the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship for the ninth consecutive year from March 19-April 5.
President Obama opened up with a plea for bracket participants to keep the people of Japan front of mind, saying, “One thing I wanted to make sure that viewers who are filling out their brackets — this is a great tradition, we have fun every year doing it — but while you’re doing it, if you’re on your laptop, et cetera, go to usaid.gov and that’s going to list a whole range of charities where you can potentially contribute to help the people who have been devastated in Japan. I think that would be a great gesture as you’re filling out your brackets.”
Katz and Burke, who have interviewed President Obama each of the seasons he provided his men’s and women’s bracket selections to ESPN, discussed their White House experiences:
What’s it like behind the scenes?
Katz: “It’s my third time and it never gets old. The President is engaged in the process, knows what he is talking about and it seems he enjoys a brief diversion from an extremely busy day that is part of having the highest pressure job in the world.”
What’s the strangest or most surprising thing about being in the White House?
Katz: “The normalcy. Once you are cleared by security (which is done ahead of time), and you get in there it’s great to see places you heard about, like the Map Room. I love the history there. It’s pretty cool to grasp.”
Burke: “It is hard not to be struck by the history that surrounds the White House. We did the bracket selection inside the library, where there are books from many generations of Presidents. It is impossible not to think of all the influential people that have walked through halls of the White House, made monumental decisions and have dealt with the pressure of being in such a leadership role.”
How is it interacting with the President?
Katz: “It has always helped having the familiarity with him. The rapport that’s been established the past couple of years helps when we are discussing him filling out the bracket.”
Burke: “When President Obama entered the room, it was obvious he was more serious than a season ago with so many world issues on his mind. He is very passionate about the game and was engaged while filling out the bracket.”
Tournament Challenge History
In 2010, the Men’s Tournament Challenge game was the most popular bracket game in the nation with nearly 5.4 million entries, breaking the previous record high of 5.0 million brackets set in 2009. President Obama’s 2010 men’s bracket ranked 2,337,604 overall, placing him in the 51st percentile out of the 5.4 million entries in the ESPN Tournament Challenge. While he didn’t predict any of the Final Four teams last year, he correctly picked North Carolina to win the National Championship in 2009. President Obama placed in the 67th percentile for his women’s bracket entry last year.
Both the Men’s Tournament Challenge presented by State Farm and Sprint and Women’s Tournament Challenge games return for their 14th 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.
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