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Obama reveals NCAA tournament picks


Barack Obama may have left the office of the President, but he’s keeping up a tradition as a private citizen that he began while in the Oval Office.

He’s filling out an NCAA tournament bracket.

The 44th President of the United States has Duke, Arizona, North Carolina and Kansas as the Final Four participants, with the Tar Heels besting the rival Blue Devils in the national championship game.

Whatever else, President Obama is banking on an epic title game.

Other notable picks are Notre Dame over Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 and both Michigan and Cincinnati making the Elite Eight with upsets over Louisville and UCLA, respectively.

On the women’s side, he’s got UConn, Washington, Notre Dame and South Carolina in the Final Four, with the Huskies capturing their fifth-straight title with a win over the Fighting Irish in the final.

33 years later, NC State championship team meets president

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WASHINGTON (AP) North Carolina State University’s victorious 1983 men’s basketball team finally got its day at the White House on Monday. Older but no less happy, team members debated with President Barack Obama whether the famous, game-winning dunk came after a shot or pass.

At the time, the school wouldn’t cover the players’ transportation to Washington or hotel rooms. And accepting a donor’s offer would have violated NCAA rules. Only Wolfpack coach Jimmy Valvano met then-President Ronald Reagan.

“Everybody looks like they could still ball a little bit,” Obama said as he and Vice President Joe Biden posed for a photograph with the players. They presented the president with a red team jersey emblazoned with Obama’s name and the number 1 on the back.

Lorenzo Charles’ buzzer beater clinched the 54-52 victory over Houston, which featured Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. It came off of Dereck Whittenburg’s long-range heave with the clock ticking down.

Obama recalled a manic coach Valvano running across the court in joy after time expired, but the president asked the question that has always lingered over that final play: Did Charles’ catch and dunk come from a shot or pass? Obama got different answers from different players, and some laughs.

Monday’s honors came too late for NC State’s coach and the team’s winning scorer. Valvano died in 1993; Charles in 2011.

But more than three decades after the upset, Obama said he was glad to make up for the team missing the ritual White House trip.

Officials organized the visit after lobbying by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, acting on a request from former Wolfpack and Utah Jazz forward Thurl Bailey.

VIDEO: Reigning national champion Duke visits the White House

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Tuesday morning, one day after they’d received their national championship rings from head coach Mike Krzyzewski at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., the Duke Blue Devils had the opportunity to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House. President Obama praised the Blue Devils for their run to the program’s fifth national title, which came with just eight scholarship players at Krzyzewski’s disposal over the final two months of the season.

Of course as any champion that visits the White House does, the Blue Devils didn’t show up empty-handed. President Obama was presented with a framed jersey, a basketball autographed by the team and he was also given a scholarship to the Coach K Academy. The Academy is held every summer, with former and current Duke players coaching teams consisting of adult campers.

Above are some highlights from the visit, with the Wall Street Journal responsible for the footage. The full video of Duke’s visit to the White House can be seen here.

Reigning national champions to visit White House Tuesday

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One of the perks that comes with winning a major championship in the United States is the opportunity to visit the President at the White House, and Friday it was announced that the Duke Blue Devils will get to do so on Tuesday. This will be the fifth time that Duke has visited the White House as national champions, with Mike Krzyzewski having led the program to national titles in 1991, 1992, 2001 and 2010 prior to this past April.

President Barack Obama extended the invitation in a phone call to Krzyzewski just after the Blue Devils defeated Wisconsin in the national title game. The president praised Duke for its play throughout the tournament while also noting the youth of a squad that included freshmen Tyus Jones (Final Four Most Outstanding Player), Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow.

During Duke’s last visit to the White House, Krzyzewski presented President Obama with a framed copy of the 2010 tournament bracket in response to his picking rival North Carolina to win the tournament in 2009 (which proved to be correct).

N.C. State’s Cat Barber sends apology to President Obama after profane outburst


North Carolina State sophomore Cat Barber helped lead the Wolfpack to an improbable run to the Sweet 16 as a No. 8 seed. After a win in the Round of 32 over No. 1 seed Villanova, Barber was caught on video going on a profane outburst directed at President Barack Obama. Obama had picked Villanova to reach the Final Four in his bracket.

The video — which caught Barber motivating himself by using the perceived slights of another to get himself pumped up like many competitors tend to do — drew national attention since it was directed at the Commander in Chief.

Barber apologized to President Obama on Twitter on Monday, but he went a step further by sending an email through an N.C. State connection to the White House on Tuesday.

According to a story from Joe Giglio of the News Observer, Barber’s email apology was given to Obama’s former White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, who is an N.C. State graduate.

The email found its way to the President and Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried said the apology was accepted.

“He understood and he knew it was in the heat of the moment and accepted the apology,” Gottfried said of President Obama’s response.

Gottfried went on to say Barber’s reaction after the win was “100 percent in the heat of the moment, in a fun way.” He still wanted Barber to apologize and it’s probably the right move for all parties involved. Now the Wolfpack can move on and focus on their Sweet 16 against No. 4 seed Louisville this week.

UConn basketball teams to visit White House next Monday

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For years it’s been tradition for championship teams to visit the White House to meet the President, and it’s something the University of Connecticut has become quite familiar with over the years. With the women’s team having won nine national titles and the men four, both programs have enjoyed the opportunity to be congratulated in person by the President.

For both programs, this year’s trip will take place on Monday, June 9 with the White House announcing the news Wednesday afternoon. While women’s head coach Geno Auriemma will take his program to the White House for the ninth time, men’s head coach Kevin Ollie will be making his second trip as a member of the UConn coaching staff.

The first came in 2011, when he was an assistant on the Kemba Walker-led team that cut down the nets in Houston.

According to the Hartford Courant the ceremony (following a tour of the White House) will begin at 4:05 p.m., and one question that lingers is whether or not President Barack Obama will challenge former UConn center Stefanie Dolson to a dance-off. During UConn’s visit last year, he promised he would if the Huskies were to make it back (provided it weren’t televised, of course).