President Barack Obama is expected to unveil his bracket later this week, and analysis of his previous brackets gives insight into what it will look like.
Obama almost always picks the favored team.
“President Obama backs favorites to win even more than they have historically. And he’s remained consistently risk-averse, ranging from three to six upset picks in the round of 64 in his seven men’s tournament brackets,” noted Five Thirty Eight after Obama unveiled last year’s bracket, his sixth. “He’s never picked a team seeded below 13 to win a game, though six have over those years.”
Last season, Obama picked few big upsets, but he got some key ones right. He correctly predicted No. 8 Kentucky would knock off No. 1 Wichita State, and that No. 4 Michigan State would knock off No. 1 Virginia.
Overall Obama rarely picks upsets, but when he does he guesses well–18 of the 32 teams seeded 10 and below that he predicted won at least one game.
Last year’s bracket as a whole is emblematic of Obama’s predictions. All of the teams in the Sweet Sixteen were No. 6 or lower; all of the teams in the Elite Eight were No. 4 or lower; and he had two No. 4 seeds and two No. 1 seeds in the Final Four.
“Obama’s caution intensifies as he moves through the men’s bracket to later rounds. He’s picked just one team seeded 7 or worse to make the Sweet Sixteen in seven years of men’s bracket-picking.15 Yet 27 teams with seeds that low made a Sweet Sixteen since 2008,” noted the blog.
“Conversely, though nine No. 2 seeds have lost before the Sweet Sixteen, Obama has picked every one to make it that far. Obama has backed no Elite Eight teams with seeds worse than 5, yet nine such teams have made it that far. And he’s picked no national semifinalist seeded worse than 4, yet seven Final Four teams have fit that category.”
The study of Obama’s brackets also found that he’s basically apolitical in his picks but does favor certain teams. He likes Baylor, Kentucky, Marquette, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Louisville–which has been in three of the president’s Final Fours. He typically doesn’t pick Arizona, Gonzaga, Oklahoma, San Diego State, Texas, and Xavier. He has noted during the ESPN broadcasts when he unveils the brackets that he admires certain coaches, such as Roy Williams from North Carolina.
Like most, Obama doesn’t usually get the NCAA Champion correct. He has done that once, though, correctly choosing North Carolina in 2009.
Expect Obama to make his 2015 bracket public on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. It appears ESPN hasn’t announced when he’ll make his picks public as of yet. See his full results from last season below.