It's an annual opportunity for Obama to talk basketball and show off his knowledge of the college field. If George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000 because voters would rather sit with him for a beer, then Obama may owe part of his success to the apparent enjoyability of talking basketball with him.
The NCAA tournament is an unpredictable thing, and even the president is subject to its vagaries. Despite is widely recognized knowledge of the game, Obama has enjoyed (or not enjoyed) varying success since his first presidential bracket in 2009.
In that year, the president picked the University of North Carolina, a top-seeded team, to win the tournament--and he was right, despite missing three of that year's Final Four.
The president has only picked the NCAA's ultimate winner once, when he concurred with popular opinion and predicted North Carolina's widely anticipated championship run in 2009. This year, the president has once again picked the top teams to advance. His final four, as presented to Katz, are:
Kentucky (No. 1 seed)
Arizona (No. 2 seed)
Villanova (No.1 seed)
Duke (No. 1 seed)
So what does this say about how Obama has changed over time? Should we ought to take his sports predictions as indications of his temperament?
Obama's 2015 bracket marks a return to his conservative style of NCAA picks. As usual, he has selected few upsets -- his notable exception being Buffalo, a 12-seed, to upset No. 5 West Virginia in the opening round -- and has placed three No. 1 seeds in his Final Four.
Obama loosened up a bit in 2013, picking No. 3 seed Florida for the Final Four. The president picked his riskiest bracket in 2014, predicting that No. 4 Louisville and Michigan State both reach the Final Four. Neither team made it, and those picks worked about as well for the president did during the 2014 midterms.
So after a brief flirtation with risky picks, Obama has reverted to his pragmatic style of selecting few upsets and predicting the top-ranked teams to make the Final Four.
Here's how the president's brackets have evolved over the years: