For the fifth straight year, President Obama has filled out a special presidential version of a March Madness bracket on his own big board. Last year, Obama’s pick (North Carolina) only made it to the Elite Eight, and he’s apparently reacted to that letdown by going extremely conservative. Across the aisle, a potential 2016 candidate for his job, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, has also filled out a bracket. (Obama’s Republican counterpart has a tougher job, politically speaking, in that his loyalties are divided in a Florida-heavy NCAA field.) Rubio’s picks are more (dare we say) progressive-thinking. Here’s a closer look:
3. Obama’s infatuated with higher seeds.
Looking at Obama’s Sweet Sixteen selections, he’s only got one non-top-four seed making it through, that being No. 5 Wisconsin out of the West region. He’s even feeling good about teams like No. 4 Saint Louis (Midwest) and No. 3 New Mexico (West) which haven’t faced the same level of competition as the bigger schools.
4. But his swing-state mentality is still evident.
The president is bullish on No. 4 Michigan knocking off No. 1 Kansas in the South region, though the Wolverines didn’t exactly end the season on the best of notes. It’s a pick that makes little sense, though an always-volatile Michigan unemployment rate may be to blame.
Meanwhile, he also has No. 2 Ohio State defeating No. 5 Wisconsin to make the Final Four. Backing the Buckeyes means pushing through a team from Ohio (the swingiest of swing states) and also getting to stick it to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) one more time.
5. Rubio’s bracket reads like that of someone who’s lost a few office pools before.
No. 6 Arizona in the Elite Eight! No. 2 Duke knocked out before the Final Four! No. 12 Ole Miss to the Sweet Sixteen! This bracket is that which results from having been burned by the usual suspects a few too many times. Rubio’s picks have that old Butler-kind-of-underdog vibe throughout, and despite what anyone says, picking No. 1 Gonzaga to make the Final Four still feels like an overtly risky bet. (Prove us wrong, Zags.)
6. It’s a good year to be a Florida homer.
The No. 2 Miami Hurricanes (East) don’t have the March Madness pedigree that their ACC brethren can boast, but it’s not a bad time to get on the bandwagon. A 15-3 conference record aided by a stifling defense (under 61 points per game allowed) could mean a long run for coach Jim Larranaga’s squad.
And No. 3 Florida in the South region — Rubio’s pick for eventual champion — cannot be overlooked. Coach Billy Donovan wants a third national title — his first since 2007 — and this team, which sports an 18-point scoring differential over its opponents and a 4-1 record versus Top 25 teams, may be seasoned enough to get it done.
7. There’ll be no Obama vs. Rubio head-to-head in the national championship.
Obama picked Indiana to win and Rubio picked Florida; both come from the same side of the NCAA bracket. At best, they could meet in the Final Four in Atlanta on April 5.
Will the commander in chief or the Sunshine State’s junior senator walk away with hoops bragging rights? BuzzFeed Sports will be keeping close track of their progress using the standard 1-2-4-8-16-32 scoring system, so check back for updates.
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