Happy March Madness! As teams from across the country get their dancing shoes ready, President Obama sat down with ESPN’s Andy Katz to discuss his picks for the 2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament. Nicknamed “Barack-etology,” filling out brackets for both the men's and women’s tournament has become an annual tradition at the White House.
In 2015, President Obama correctly predicted that the Connecticut Huskies would be the women’s NCAA basketball champions. However, he didn’t do so well with the men’s bracket—something an eleven-year-old girl from North Carolina pointed out in a letter to the President. “You are a great president, just not the best bracket picker,” Emilia wrote.
Dear President Obama,
My Name is Emilia. I am eleven years old and I live in Charlotte North Carolina. I just wanted to tell you that I saw your 2015 NCAA bracket pick and I beat you. You are a great president, just not the best bracket picker.
Inspired to do better with his 2016 brackets, the President wrote her back. “Your note gave me the sense you're a talented young lady with some serious potential. Always remember that nothing is beyond your reach as long as you are willing to set your sights high and put your best effort into everything you do. I expect big things—and great brackets—from you in the years ahead,” he wrote. In the hopes that the President would get more than 40 percent of the games right this year, the White House even called Emilia to get her thoughts on the tournament.
Thanks for your letter about my bracket picks this year. You’re right—when it comes to my basketball bracket, I don’t have the best record!
In addition to helping keep me honest, your note gave me the sense you're a talented young lady with some serious potential. Always remember that nothing is beyond your reach as long as you are willing to set your sights high and put your best effort into everything you do. I expect big things—and great brackets—from you in the years ahead!
The President also sent Emilia this signed picture:
Emilia — Next year I’ll check with you first!
In his men's bracket, the President has Kansas, Texas A&M, Michigan State, and UNC headed to the Final Four. To the excitement of many Kansas fans, the President predicts the Jayhawks will win the national title.
In the women’s tournament, the President anticipates that Connecticut, Florida State, South Carolina, and Notre Dame will reach the Final Four. In the end though, he thinks it will be the UConn Huskies cutting down the nets come April 5.
Danielle Cohen is an intern in the Office of Digital Strategy