On Top of the Big Stories: 'Mr. Obama Knows His Hoops'

Chief "Caucus" blog contributor Michael Shear celebrated Bracket Obama in a Saturday morning post on the president's college basketball tournament pool picks -"Obama's N.C.A.A. Bracket Is One of the Best." The wins just keep piling up for the president, at least on the court, in Shear's telling.

Being president is an ego trip. So you would have thought President Obama wouldn't need to add to his bragging rights. But Mr. Obama's N.C.A.A. men's basketball bracket stands - for the moment, anyway - as one of the best out there.

Out of 32 games, Mr. Obama has accurately predicted all but three. As of Saturday morning, he ranks at No. 16 on The Times's bracket site, tied with many others. Mr. Obama has a total of 166 out of 195 points possible.

The success of the president's picks may bring him attention that White House aides would rather do without. Critics of the president chastised him for spending time on college basketball - and announcing his bracket on ESPN - even as the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan and violence spread in the Middle East and north Africa.

After two paragraphs of Republican criticism of Obama's ESPN appearance and one of White House defense, Shear returned to the Obama who can do little wrong:

Mr. Obama has accurately predicted the winners of some of the closest games, including ones between George Mason University and Villanova, Kentucky and Princeton, and Temple and Penn State.

He stumbled just a bit, picking Georgetown over Virginia Commonwealth, perhaps going with the alma mater of his communication's director, Dan Pfeiffer.

Mr. Obama also erroneously picked Louisville over Morehead State and Michigan State over UCLA. Both of his picks lost by a hair to the other team.

Mr. Obama has picked Kansas to win the championship final over Ohio State. His picks for the final eight teams are all still alive, giving him a shot at a near-perfect bracket.

All of which proves one thing: Mr. Obama knows his hoops.

As U.S. missiles fly over Libya, the nation surely awaits with breathless anticipation Shear's update on how Obama is faring after Sunday's slate of games.

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