Phil Ivey Joins President Barack Obama In Predicting NCAA Tournament



It’s that time of year again…and it has nothing at all to do with poker, surprisingly! The NCAA Basketball Tournament Championship begins this afternoon on its month-long journey to crowning a champion. Feverishly, people are filling out their brackets in office pools, online contests and various other contests as they try to figure out who will be that champion. Poker’s Phil Ivey has even gotten in on the debate, alongside a notable basketball fan.

On NBCSports.com’s Off The Bench blog, Ivey is joined by none other than the President of the United States, Barack Obama, in laying out their brackets for all to see (or to take advice from). A longtime hoops fanatic, President Obama has had some prior success in choosing the NCAA champion, while Ivey’s love of basketball also is well known (he is often seen wearing NBA jerseys on the felt).

President Obama has laid out a Final Four (broadcast on ESPN) that consists of two of the top seeds in the tournament. The President has Louisville coming out of the Midwest bracket along with Indiana emerging from the East (both are #1 seeds). Obama has also chosen Florida (a #3 seed) to battle their way through the South bracket and Ohio State (#2) to make it to the championship Final Four in Atlanta, GA, out of the West bracket.

President Obama predicts that Louisville will defeat Ohio State and Indiana will knock off Florida, putting the two Midwest basketball powerhouses against each other. Obama ends in prognostications by deciding that Indiana will walk off with the NCAA title. Off The Bench does state that the President hasn’t been that good of late in predicting the NCAA tournament. In the past three years, Obama has only gotten two out of the twelve teams that made it to the Final Four.

Ivey, for his part, sees things along the same lines as President Obama. Ivey predicts the same Final Four as the President, but he has a bit different outcome once the teams reach Atlanta. While Ivey agrees with Obama that Louisville will beat Ohio State, Ivey sees Florida taking down Indiana to set up a Louisville/Florida matchup for the championship. In the end, Ivey picks Louisville to take the championship.

“Defense wins championships,” Ivey reportedly told Off the Bench. “From what I’ve seen this season, Louisville and Florida definitely have the best D in the country.”

Looking a bit deeper into Ivey’s picks, he has some upsets in the early rounds. The eight time World Series of Poker bracelet winner has Oregon upsetting Oklahoma State in a 12/5 match and Cincinnati knocking off Creighton in a 10/7 game. Ivey also sees California taking down UNLV in another 12/5 contest and Minnesota to pull the upset over UCLA in an 11/6 game.

President Obama agrees with Ivey on the Minnesota/UCLA as well as the Cincinnati/Creighton game. Obama has another upset watch in Oklahoma defeating San Diego State in a 10/7 game. Perhaps the biggest upset Obama has in his bracket is tiny Belmont University, located in Nashville, TN, taking down a strong Arizona team in another 11/6 game. Both men pretty much have the chalk (the favorites) reaching the Sweet Sixteen, however.

The NBC Sports Network will be having their own version of “March Madness” on its airwaves tonight. As the NCAA tournament begins, NBCSN will begin its broadcasts of the 2013 National Heads Up Poker Championship at 8:30PM (Eastern Daylight Time), featuring the 64 player field playing for one of the biggest accolades in tournament poker. Whether you will be watching the NHUPC or the NCAA, there will be plenty of ‘bracket madness’ going around not only the poker world but also the sporting community!

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