No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga is the overwhelming betting favorite to win the 2021 NCAA Tournament, which starts in earnest on Friday with first round action. And the Bulldogs have the presidential stamp of approval.
Former president Barack Obama released his bracket on Thursday ahead of this year’s March Madness and picked Gonzaga to run through the bracket to win its first-ever national championship. He mostly went chalk with his picks, per usual, projecting all four No. 1 seeds — Gonzaga, Michigan, Illinois and Baylor — to be the last four teams standing. Unfortunately for him, his Michigan State and Mount St. Mary’s picks from Thursday’s First Four action already crashed and burned.
Obama went a little off-the-beaten path with his picks for the women’s NCAA Tournament. He picked No. 2 seed Baylor to win it all, with the Bears taking down UConn in the Elite Eight.
Hall of Fame hooper Charles Barkley, who serves as analyst for March Madness, went quite the opposite direction, with a number of upset picks. An Auburn alumnus, he made the notable choice to pick Alabama to the Final Four. He has Gonzaga winning it all over Baylor in the title game, which is pretty chalky. But the intrigue lies with some off-the-radar Elite Eight picks of USC, Florida State, and Arkansas.
“I’m taking Gonzaga and I’m taking Baylor and I’m giving everybody else the field,” he said Thursday on truTV.
His cohort, Kenny Smith, may have the most random picks. A North Carolina alum, he picked the Tar Heels (as a No. 8 seed!) to advance to the title game before falling to No. 3 seed Kansas.
Speaking of random, late-night TV star Jimmy Fallon has Syracuse as the last team standing. Syracuse! The 11th-seeded Orange are underdogs in their first round matchup against No. 6 seed San Diego State.
Oh, and one more TV star? Let’s go to Matt James of “The Bachelor.”
Original posted at www.cbssports.com