Former President Barack Obama picks Duke, South Carolina to win men’s and women’s March Madness

Like millions of Americans, Barack Obama filled in his March 2023 madness brackets.

For the men, the former president chose Duke at number 5 as his national champion, a very popular choice among the lower seeds to win it all. He was less adventurous with the women, selecting undefeated South Carolina at No. 1 overall.

[Free bracket contests for both tourneys | Printable Men’s | Women’s]

Rounding out Obama’s men’s Final Four is No. 1 seed Houston, No. 2 seed UCLA, and No. 3 seed Baylor, while each of the other three women, No. 1 seed, Indiana, Virginia Tech and Stanford were its other three women’s regional champions.

Here is the complete male grid:

Barack Obama in the 2023 March Madness men's draw.  (via the Obama Foundation)
Barack Obama March Madness 2023 Men’s Grid. (via the Obama Foundation)

And women:

Barack Obama's Women at the 2023 March Madness.  (via the Obama Foundation)
Barack Obama’s grid at the March 2023 Women’s Madness. (via the Obama Foundation)

Obama’s choice of Duke goes against his usual history of predicting champions, but continues a different trend for him.

How are things going with the election of the national champion Barack Obama

Seeded at number 5, Duke is the lowest-ranked team Obama has ever picked to win it all, and this is only the third time he’s picked a no-no. 1 seeding since he started the tradition in 2009. It is not surprising that he chose Duke, as he only chose well-known basketball forces.

In 14 tournaments, Obama has picked UNC three times, Kansas three times, Michigan State twice, Gonzaga twice, Kentucky once, Indiana once, and Duke twice. Here’s how he did it:

2009 – Choice: North Carolina | Winner: North Carolina

2010 — Select: Kansas | Winner: Duke

2011 — Select: Kansas | Winner: Connecticut

2012 – Choice: North Carolina | Winner: Kentucky

2013 — Select: Indiana | Winner: Louisville

2014 – Choice: Michigan State | Winner: Connecticut

2015 — Select: Kentucky | Winner: Duke

2016 — Kansas Peak | Winner: Villanova

2017 – Choice: North Carolina | Winner: North Carolina

2018 – Choice: Michigan State | Winner: Villanova

2019 — Select: Duke | Winner: Virginia

2021 — Select: Gonzaga | Winner: Baylor

2022 — Select: Gonzaga | Winner: Kansas

He was even more conservative picking the women’s draw, placing first overall in 11 of 13 draws and picking only Yukonn (eight times), Baylor (three times) and South Carolina (twice). This worked out very well for him, giving him six successful picks:

2010 – Choice: UConn | Winner: UConn

2011 — Select: UConn | Winner: Texas A&M

2012 – Choice: Baylor | Winner: Baylor

2013 — Select: Baylor | Winner: UConn

2014 – Choice: UConn | Winner: UConn

2015 – Choice: UConn | Winner: UConn

2016 – Select UConn | Winner: UConn

2017 — Select: UConn | Winner: South Carolina

2018 — Select: UConn | Winner: Notre Dame

2019 — Select: UConn | Winner: Baylor

2021 — Select: Baylor | Winner: Stanford

2021 – Choice: South Carolina | Winner: South Carolina

South Carolina is the overwhelming favorite to give him the seventh successful pick as BetMGM has Gamecocks as the -185 favorite to win it all. To put this into perspective, the No. 6 Iowa State men’s team is -185 to win their first game against No. 11 Pittsburgh.

The Duke is much longer than +3000, but there is a lot to like about the rising Blue Devils.


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