I run a $20 March Madness pool every year. This year, one of the entrants is my expatriate friend in China. Take into account the 12-hour time difference and his general indifference toward college basketball, and you have a guy who hasn’t watched a single game this entire season.
Nevertheless, my brave friend insisted on joining my pool and navigating through the dangerous world of Cinderellas, buzzer beaters, and upset specials. As an American citizen, loyal Democrat, and clueless bracket-filler, he decided that the best way to win that prize pool money was to copy President Obama’s bracket.
Thus, he downloaded a video of Obama filling out his bracket and then proceeded to copy nearly all of Obama’s picks. It just so happens that Obama got 29/32 picks correct in the second round; his only incorrect picks were Louisville, Michigan St., and Georgetown (D.C. bias).
My friend’s bracket differed slightly (he had Vanderbilt and Texas A&M), but the 27 correct picks were enough to land him in third place out of 51 entrants.
Such is the dynamic of March Madness. The wacky second round produced a 30-point blowout in an 8 vs. 9 matchup (Michigan vs. Tennessee), a 13 vs. 4 upset for the fourth year in a row (poor Louisville), the perennial 12 vs. 5 upset (congratulations, Richmond), and a few buzzer beaters (Temple, Butler).
Entering this weekend’s games, Obama has 15/16 Sweet 16 teams left, but let’s not pop the champagne bottles yet. The President picked all four No. 1 seeds to advance to Houston – a feat that has only happened once in the history of the NCAA Tournament (2008).
Picking favorites is rarely a winning strategy, and I don’t expect this year to be any different. Still, a 90.6 percent accuracy rate is highly impressive. Now, if only we could apply that kind of success to our economy…