North Carolina Comes Through for Obama

Jeff  Zeleny

NY TIMES CUCUS BLOG

BRITAIN US OBAMA G20

April 7, 2009 <!– — Updated: 11:16 am –>

North Carolina has delivered twice for President Obama – first, in the presidential election last November and again on Monday night in the N.C.A.A. championship game.

Mr. Obama has seldom been far from a television during a marquee basketball game. But he was not able to see North Carolina wallop Michigan State, 89-72, because he was in Istanbul, Turkey on the final leg of his maiden overseas presidential trip.

But you can bet the game will be replayed aboard Air Force One on Tuesday as Mr. Obama flies back to Washington, where he is set to arrive shortly before dinnertime.

For the second year in a row, the president picked North Carolina to win the N.C.A.A. championship. Last year, they did not deliver, which prompted him to offer a plea while filling out his bracket last month in an interview on ESPN: “This year, don’t embarrass me in front of the nation, all right?”

The Tar Heels did not embarrass – or disappoint. And in the end, the presidential bracket didn’t look so bad, either.

He finished in the top 20 percent of more than 5 million people who entered the pool on ESPN.com. (It was a good come back, after falling into the bottom half when three of his Final Four picks didn’t make it.) In the New York Times’s contest, he placed 6,654 of all players.

You can bet on one thing: Coach Roy Williams and the team will be coming to the White House soon for a presidential ceremony. Perhaps they will be given an early peek at the basketball court being converted from the tennis court on the South Lawn, not far from the Oval Office.

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