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Examing Obama's bracket: Goes with favorites, exudes caution

From NBC’s John Bailey
As we noted in First Thoughts, President Obama’s March Madness bracket this year has all No. 1 seeds in the Final Four -- Kansas, Ohio State, Pitt, and Duke. In his yearly ESPN segment on the bracket, the president, an avid basketball fan, said it was the first time he has ever picked all No. 1s. In the championship, the president picked Kansas over Ohio State, despite the fact that the Jayhawks were his title pick last year and exited in a second round upset to Northern Iowa. This is the fourth time President Obama has released his March picks, the third time as president. So how has he fared?

Past results:
--In 2008, then-Sen. Obama correctly picked three of the Final Four teams, but not the champion (Kansas) or runner up (Memphis).
--2009 was a strong year for the President -- he accurately picked 87.5 percent of the Sweet Sixteen and chose the eventual Champion, UNC.
--The president struggled last year, failing to pick a single team in the Final Four. Then again last year was a difficult year to predict, and the president’s winter may have been a bit filled with the fight over something else… health care reform.

Campaign connection?
--Three teams (Duke, Ohio St., and Pitt.) in the President’s Final Four come from Swing States.
--Six of his Elite Eight come from swing states (Seven of eight if you count Indiana – Purdue).
--Seven teams he has in the Elite Eight come from states the president carried in 2008, the only exception being his pick to win it all: Kansas.
--Of the seven schools to make the Final Four since President Obama was inaugurated (Michigan St. made it twice), six come from states he carried in 2008. West Virginia last year is the exception.
--Of the 12 top-seeded teams this year, 10 come from states the President carried in 2008, the exceptions being BYU and Kansas.

Some other points:
--The president is doubling down on Kansas to win it all this year despite their failure to do so last year—a repeat pick paid off for him in 2009, when he picked UNC for the second year in a row, and they won.
--The president is long on Kansas historically—this year, he’s putting  them in the Final Four for the third time in four years. Then again, Kansas has done very well in the past decade or so in the NCAA.
--Despite a close relationship with his personal aide Reggie Love, who played basketball at Duke, this is the first time the president has Duke advancing to the Final Four.

NBC’s Domenico Montanaro notes other interesting picks in Obama's bracket this year:
--Upsets: No. 12 Richmond over No. 5 Vanderbilt; No. 11 Gonzaga over No. 6 St. John’s; No. 11 Marquette over No. 6 Xavier.

Also, some Republicans are criticizing the president for putting out his NCAA bracket: RNC Chairman Reince Priebus Tweeted: "How can @BarackObama say he is leading when puts his NCAA bracket over the budget & other pressing issues? http://bit.ly/ieSuCI"

For Priebus, Wisconsin has a potentially tough draw in the first round against Belmont and then possibly Kansas State. Obama has Wisconsin losing to K-State.