(CNSNews.com) – President Obama has joined millions of other Americans across the country at this time of the year by completing a bracket for the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, taking time out from the recent national debate about the sequester and reduced government funding.
Sitting down exclusively with ESPN’s Andy Katz on Wednesday for the fifth straight year, Obama selected a Final Four of Louisville, Indiana, Florida, and Ohio State. His national championship game was Louisville vs. Indiana, with Indiana as the president’s pick to win the title.
“These are the two best teams right now, and for the championship, I’m going back to the Big Ten. I think this is Indiana’s year,” said the president. Obama’s full bracket was revealed Wednesday morning on SportsCenter.
The president made only a few picks that would be considered major upsets, all of them in the West Region.
Obama took the winner of a play-in game Wednesday night between Boise State and La Salle, two #13 seeds, to beat the #4 seed Kansas State Wildcats tomorrow, and he also predicted #11 Belmont would knock off #6 Arizona, one of the country’s most prestigious basketball programs, on Thursday.
In a more minor upset, Obama believes #5 Wisconsin will eliminate #1 Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 next Thursday night in Los Angeles.
Last year, Obama’s bracket ranked 2,347,421 out of 6.45 million entries in ESPN.com’s Men’s Tournament Challenge, placing him in the 63.6th percentile.
This tradition started when Obama was a senator from Illinois, preparing to make a speech at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in 2008.
Katz interviewed Obama, who is well-known now for his pickup basketball games at the White House, which include Secretary of Education and former Harvard University basketball player Arne Duncan, at a Hampton Inn in Dunn, N.C.,
Before Katz left, he asked Obama if he could fill out a bracket with him at the White House if he won the presidential election that year. According to Katz, Obama said “okay” in the presence of David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, and he kept his word.
Tommy Vietor, a former assistant press secretary, said to Katz, “Of course because [Washington] is ridiculous, it became politicized at some point. People said, ‘How can he have time to do his bracket?’ It took him 15 minutes.
“Our take on it was, people like to do a bracket, right? That’s why March Madness is March Madness,” Vietor added.
For the fourth straight year, Obama also filled out a bracket for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, selecting Baylor, California, Connecticut and Notre Dame as his Final Four, though the complete bracket will not be revealed until Friday.