We all know Obama will pick his brackets with ESPN's Andy Katz tomorrow.
And if the past is and precedent, the sports fan-in-chief has a lot of sports knowledge he'll bring to the table, although last year the nation's top Democrat had a very conservative bracket. He tends to watch ESPN when he watches TV, after all, as he told a supporter recently.
The NCAA tournament is a confounding thing with Cinderella stories and upsets and the winner of the office pool is as likely to have the basketball chops of a pet beagle as they are to be a bona fide sports junky.
So, from a nakedly political standpoint, who should Obama pick?
We're not talking who will win, but which picks are the best nakedly political choices? He needs to win Florida, sure. But much has also been made of the Obama campaign's attempts to hold on to his 2008 victory in Virginia.
Z. Byron Wolf's "Swing State Bracket":
For me, swing states were key. And the closer the margin in 2008, the more weight a team got. Thus, Florida beat Virginia in the first round. The vote was closer in 2008 in Florida than was it was in Virginia.
But it was closest of all in places like North Carolina and Indiana. Indiana seems like a bigger long shot this go-round for the president. So Duke beats Notre Dame in the third round.
There are some places where it'll be red state vs. blue state. Texas, for instance, seems like it is going to be red. Vermont is going to be blue. At that point, perhaps Obama should go with a rally the base pick. Vermont. In red state vs. red state - Southern Mississippi vs. Kansas State, for instance - Obama has little chance of winning either state. He came slightly closer to winning Mississippi in 2008. Southern Miss.
For me, its an all North Carolina Final Four. Given national appeal of teams, you still have Duke and North Carolina in the finals. But going on size of school and alumni base, UNC would win.
So make your own criteria, write down the picks, take a pic, and we'll put some up. A paragraph or two of justification would be welcomed and printed in the blog that accompanies these.
Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Good, ABC Political Unit:
Here you have it: A bracket of pandering, rife with unabashed homerism. A Final Four of Favoritism sends a message that Obama houldn't let Detroit go bankrupt and gives nods to two critical swing states and a Jesuit university (where administrators may or may not be reviewing new student and employee insurance plans) to soothe Catholic tensions.
South regional: Duke exits early, in a slight to GOP booster and Obama critic Coach K. Ohio-based Xavier loses to the state university in a more vulnerable swing state. Winner: Indiana
West regional: In a nod to Colorado's non-Boulder voters, Colorado State makes the Sweet Sixteen. Pandering to Michigan State fans would be nice, but Obama carried Michigan by 16 percent in 2008 and concludes he's got bigger problems in the Catholic community, picking Saint Louis University. Why not other Jesuit schools, like Xavier or Georgetown? SLU is piloted by Rick Majerus, who 2008 found himself in trouble with school bosses for making comments about abortion and stem-cell research at a Hillary Clinton rally. Obama should pick SLU as a backhanded compliment to the diocese, reminding Midwestern Catholics-particularly women-that it's okay to vote Democrat. Winner: Saint Louis
East regional: It's fine to have gone to Harvard and know what arugula is. Plus, Obama needs the donations of his high-rolling Crimson brethren…but not as much as he needs Florida's 27 Electoral College votes. Winner: Florida State
Midwest regional: . In a moment of sheer political vanity, Obama should shun the UNC team he scrimmaged with before the last election in favor of mid-major squad Ohio University, realizing that while campaign manager Jim Messina's "New South" map is ambitious, he'll need to protect Midwest strongholds first. Wanting badly to please voters in Indiana, Obama could initially picks Purdue in the first round…and then slowly realizes his coup de grace of Bracketological entreaties, his ultimate jab at to Mitt "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" Romney. Winner: Detroit
Elizabeth Hartfield, ABC Political Unit:
I chose Virginia, Duke, UNC and Ohio as my final four. Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio are key swing states for Obama, and it behooves him to include all three locations in this bracket. Though Ohio State is a larger school than Ohio University, there was no path to a final four with Ohio and UNC that included using Ohio State, so I opted for Ohio University, believing that simply including Duke, which is a private college, did not suffice for proper North Carolina representation. That same logic applied when I selected UNC over Duke for the final championship game. Ultimately I chose Ohio over Virginia because there is a Democratic path to victory which does not include Virginia, and the Obama campaign has so far made Ohio a strong priority in their re-election campaign. Ultimately though the win went to UNC. After all, the Democrats are obviously gunning very hard for the state.
Disclaimer: I know nothing about basketball, so I have no concept of whether or not these teams are strong picks in that sense.