By Karen Travers President Obama, a well-documented basketball fan, didn’t wait until his plane touched down in Washington before calling North Carolina men’s basketball coach Roy Williams to congratulate him on the Tar Heels’ win over Michigan State in Monday night’s NCAA championship game. Flying back from Baghdad, Obama called Williams from Air Force One to extend his congratulations and also thank the coach and his team for making the president look pretty darn hoop savvy. Obama picked the Tar Heels to win the tournament in the much publicized bracket that he did with ESPN’s Andy Katz. "The President offered Coach Williams his congratulations and thanked him and his team for vindicating him in front of the entire country," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. "The President told him he’d done a great job and asked the Coach to tell the players how proud he was of them and that he looked forward to seeing them at the White House soon." Unfortunately for the fan-in-chief, the Tar Heels were the only team that Obama had in his bracket’s Final Four that actually made it to Detroit. His other three picks – Louisville, Memphis, and Duke – all lost in earlier rounds. Having just one team alive in his bracket going into the Final Four may have cost Obama the top spot in the White House pool. Gibbs said in Istanbul yesterday that even though Obama picked the winner, the president was likely to still be disappointed that he would finish behind his press secretary and senior advisor David Axelrod. "[I]f he couldn’t win, he did say early on he just wanted to beat us," Gibbs said. "I do think he takes pride in the fact that he’s likely beaten [personal aide] Reggie [Love] in his pool. And I think he’s happy to have picked the winner but sorry to have missed the game." Aides said the president was planning to unwind from his whirlwind eight-day, six-country trip by watching the game on the long flight back to Washington from Baghdad. Obama got some hoops talk from an unlikely source yesterday in Turkey – the archbishop of Constantinople. After detailing a long list of items accomplished by Obama on this trip, including his speech to the Turkish Parliament Monday, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I threw in some basketball. "Oh, and by the way, congratulations on North Carolina," the archbishop said. The president, according to a White House aide, laughed and smiled.