POLITICS: PennAve

Obama unveils Final Four picks, predicts Michigan State to win

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Politics,Sports,White House,Barack Obama,PennAve,Meghashyam Mali

President Obama unveiled his Final Four picks for the men's NCAA College Basketball Championship to ESPN and predicted that Michigan State would top Louisville in the title game.

In a yearly tradition for the basketball fan, Obama shared his Final Four predictions, rounded out by Florida and Arizona, for the tournament in a video for ESPN, broadcast Wednesday.

“I’ve got Michigan State going all the way,” the president told ESPN’s Andy Katz.

The president praised Spartans coach Tom Izzo as a “great tournament head coach.”

Florida and Arizona are both No. 1 seeds, while Louisville is the defending champion.

Obama sees Florida topping Kansas in the Elite Eight round.

“Great matchup, but I think Florida. They play like a team, great defense, great offense. [Coach Billy] Donovan knows what he’s doing,” he said, filling out his bracket.

Obama’s bracket showed him picking Michigan State’s Spartans over Villanova in the East. Out West, Obama said he was going with Arizona to reach the Final Four, joking that “I know these are not imaginative picks, but I think they are the right ones.”

In the South Region, Obama picked coach Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals, saying that “they know how to win” and expected them to return to the title game.

Obama’s first round picks also had him advancing Creighton. Nebraska billionaire Warren Buffett, an Obama supporter, is offering a million dollars if someone fills out a perfect bracket.

Asked what he would do if he won the money, Obama said: “You know I’m sure somebody would ask me to pay down more of the federal debt.”

“Michelle might want a few shoes,” he jokingly said of the first lady.

Obama did not advance Delaware — a favorite of Vice President Joe Biden, citing their match-up against the Spartans.

“I’ll let Biden fill out his own bracket. If he wants to pick Delaware over Michigan State I’ll let him do it,” he said.

Obama has only picked the national champion correctly in one year, according to ESPN, when he predicted the University of North Carolina would win in 2009.

The administration also hopes to use March Madness to raise enrollment in Obamacare's health exchanges.

In recent weeks, the administration has made a drive to sign up young, healthy consumers for the insurance exchanges ahead of the March 31 deadline for open enrollment.

The White House unveiled a "16 Sweetest Reasons to Get Covered" bracket online earlier this week to press young people on getting covered. New ads featuring basketball stars encouraging enrollment will also air during the tournament.

This story was published at 7:12 a.m. and has been updated.

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