Last year at NCAA basketball tournament time, President Obama's "pool" garnered fawning coverage, with New York Times political reporter Michael Shear praising the president's round-ball acumen when some of the president's early predictions came through: "Mr. Obama knows his hoops."
This year the praise can be found in the sports section itself. Reporter Mark Viera covered the North Carolina State-Georgetown University game under this headline: "N.C. State, President's Pick, Sends the Hoya to Another Early Exit."
After President Obama selected North Carolina State to advance to the Round of 16, Wolfpack Coach Mark Gottfried sought to explain the pick as simply a move to curry favor among the state’s voters in the coming presidential election.
But 11th-seeded North Carolina State’s 66-63 victory over No. 3 Georgetown on Sunday showed that Obama might have been relying on more than political guile when he made such a bold prediction about a team that nearly missed making the N.C.A.A. tournament.