Barack-etology: Obama’s Sophomore Slump

Mar 23, 2010 11:13am

ABC News' Karen Travers reports:

Last year, President Obama showed off a golden touch when it came to March Madness, cementing his status as a not just an average fan but a savvy basketball analyst.

What a difference a year makes — is Obama in a second year hoops slump?

While he scored a significant victory with the passage of historic health care reform legislation this weekend, Obama’s NCAA men’s basketball bracket is in shambles after his pick for this year’s national championship, the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks, lost in a stunning upset on Saturday to Northern Iowa.

The president correctly picked nine teams playing in this weekend’s Sweet Sixteen, but after this next round, it really doesn’t matter because his bracket is effectively finished due to Kansas’ loss.

Last year Obama put his hoops credibility on the line but his pick for the national championship, the North Carolina Tar Heels, proved him right. After the Tar Heels went on to win the NCAA Tournament, Obama thanked the team for “vindicating” him to the nation.

Obama’s bracket is not alone in the ruins pile – 42.2 percent of the brackets entered on ESPN.com had Kansas going all the way. But that’s probably little consolation to the Hoopster-in-Chief, who clearly put ample thought and attention into his picks.

The White House said on Sunday that while juggling outreach to Members of Congress and receiving updates on progress on Capitol Hill, Obama was, “like the rest of America, examining the rubble of his bracket.”

Obama admitted last week that his pick of Kansas to win the NCAA Tournament may have been influenced by Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, who served as governor of Kansas.

"She is a fanatical Jayhawks fan. She's a maniac when it comes to the Jayhawks — talks trash all the time," Obama said of Sebelius.

Obama told ESPN last week that he wanted Sebelius “to be happy” when she’s working on health care as the legislation made its way to final passage.

Obama’s bracket may be kaput and Sebelius’ Jayhawks may be out of the tournament but when they gathered today at the White House for the president to sign the health care reform bill, the legislative victory presumably made their hoops losses easier to swallow.

-Karen Travers

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