Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Analyzing The Obama Bracket

It's an annual tradition around here that I analyze Barack Obama's bracket quickly after it is announced.

In this year's edition -- published over at The Awl if you want to see it in full -- I go over Obama's picks, which include picking all four 1-seeds to the Final Four.

It's a little risk-averse -- as is his Sweet 16, which includes only two teams (Arizona, Kansas State) outside of the Top 4 seeds in each region.

Then again, two years ago, Obama was in the 81st percentile among all bracket-pickers; last season, picking Kansas to win it all, he barely nudged past the 50th percentile.

(That's where the "He's right in the middle!" arguments fall short -- the "middle" should be the "national bracket," which is usually in the 75-80th percentile.)

Anyway, I understand his motivation to want to be right by being relatively safe -- in a moment of personal humiliation, I just went against a lifetime of personal policy by creating a second bracket with different, safer picks. It's not that it's a hedge; it's that I wanted to be able to track how I COULD have done, had I not been stupid and picked George Mason over Ohio State or Butler over Pitt. I actually feel a sense of shame over having done it.

So back to Obama: There's nothing wrong with the safe bet. As we all saw last year, it's not always right -- but if everyone is on the 1-seed bandwagon and that team LOSES, the Tournament becomes that much more fun for everyone. Even if you're not winning the pool.

-- D.S.

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