Obama leads in March Madness picks

President Obama's probably hoping he put some money on his March Madness picks, if he hasn't already.

After a weekend's worth of basketball, the president's picks are among the most prescient, after two rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Obama's picks rank at the 99th percentile on ESPN.com, and he leads a pool including his bracket and the picks of other members of Congress whose brackets were collected by The Hill.

Following Sunday night's games, Obama's bracket had earned the most points, putting him, respectively, ahead of Sens. Kay HaganKay HaganDemocratic National Convention event calendar 10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2016 Senate Republicans are feeling the 'Trump effect' MORE (D-N.C.), Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillThe Republicans' hypocrisy on minimum wage Watchdog faults Energy Department over whistleblower retaliation Wagner passes on NRCC bid, backs Stivers MORE (D-Mo.), John McCainJohn McCainTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense Booker: 'I love you, Donald Trump' Syria activists cheer Kaine pick MORE (R-Ariz.), Mark WarnerMark WarnerTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense Democratic National Convention event calendar Liberal group: Kaine could be 'disastrous' VP pick MORE (D-Va.), Michael BennetMichael BennetTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense Bacteria found ahead of Olympics underscores need for congressional action for new antibiotics Top GOP senator: Trump will have little effect on Senate races MORE (D-Colo.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

The Hill tabulated the scores by Yahoo.com's system, in which one point is awarded for a correct first round pick and two points are awarded for correct second round picks. No additional points are awarded for correctly picking upsets.

Obama scored 49 points out of a possible 64 points, while Hagan scored 48, McCaskill scored 44, McCain and Warner tied at 43, Bennet tallied 39, and Toomey earned 30.

The lawmakers' picks didn't quite get as much publicity as Obama's. The president made his picks on ESPN for the third straight year, though this year drew more political scrutiny from Republicans than in years past. 

"You know, the president has this fixation with the Final Four — spent time on ESPN giving us his version of what really mattered to him, which was the Final Four," former House Speaker Gingrich said last week on Fox News. "What is strange is, with all of these crises, how could you focus that kind of time and attention as president of the United States?"

The Republican National Committee also pounced on the president's picks, asking for an explanation from the White House as to why Obama filmed the ESPN segment amid the fallout from an earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the uprising in Libya. 

But many lawmakers, of all ideological stripes joined in the March Madness fun, which began with Thursday afternoon's games and extended through the weekend. 

Obama's picks projected having all four No. 1 seeds — Ohio State, Duke, Kansas and Pitt — going to the Final Four. More fans picked those teams going to the Final Four than any other teams, according to an ESPN press release last week.

The lawmakers' picks reflected a mix of pragmatism and sports partisanship.

McCaskill apparently liked Kansas enough to initially pick the Jayhawks as her national champion before crossing it out and writing, "Just couldn't do it," on her bracket. (She picked Ohio State instead; Kansas is the traditional rival of McCaskill's beloved Missouri Tigers.)

Toomey went a bit of the "homer" route, which cost him. He picked Villanova and Penn State, each of which were bounced in the first round, to advance all the way to the Elite Eight. He also picked Pittsburgh, a No. 1 seed, which suffered a second round upset loss, to win the national championship.

Similarly, Bennet, whose bracket was entitled "CU was Robbed!", referring to the selection committee's snub of the Colorado Buffaloes, picked 15 seed Northern Colorado to beat San Diego State in the first round. (Bennet didn't have the Bears advancing beyond the second round, though.)

By contrast, Warner's lack of homer-ism meant he lost out on some possible points. He correctly picked Virginia Commonwealth University to beat Georgetown in the first round, but incorrectly predicted VCU to lose to Purdue in the second round. He also didn't pick Richmond over Vanderbilt in the first round. Both Richmond and VCU are now in the Sweet Sixteen.

Hagan also lost an opportunity for a point by accidentally picking Kentucky as the winner of the first round matchup between George Mason and Villanova. (Kentucky's matchup was placed a few slots lower on the bracket, and Hagan picked the Wildcats to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.)

Some members of Congress didn't end up filling out brackets (or at least releasing them publicly), though they made clear where their loyalties lie.

House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerDem drops out of race for Boehner's old seat Conservative allies on opposite sides in GOP primary fight Clinton maps out first 100 days MORE (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellProgressive group changes tone on Kaine Trump hits Kaine on TPP: He supports a 'job killer' Clinton maps out first 100 days MORE (R-Ky.) didn't fill out brackets, according to spokesmen for each. But both have their loyalties. BoehnerJohn BoehnerDem drops out of race for Boehner's old seat Conservative allies on opposite sides in GOP primary fight Clinton maps out first 100 days MORE's a big fan of Xavier, and McConnell was no doubt devastated to see his beloved Louisville Cardinals go down in a major first round upset on Thursday. 

Many other lawmakers were wishing their home state teams well. 

Sen. Bob MenendezRobert MenendezTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense GMO labeling bill advances in the Senate over Dem objections Overnight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal MORE (D-N.J.) tweeted Thursday, “Cheering on NJ teams in the tournament. Good luck @Princeton! Go @PUTigers!”

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) tweeted Thursday, "Good luck to the #NIttanyLions men's and women's bball teams. This old Lion will be rooting for you."

Sen. Dan CoatsDan CoatsIndiana GOP taps lieutenant governor to replace Pence GOP rallies to Trump's 'law and order' message after Baton Rouge Indiana Republicans to pick Pence replacement next week MORE (R-Ind.) tweeted, “Good luck to @ButlerMBB @indianastate @UND_com @PurdueSports in the NCAA tourney #IN.”

Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) said he would like to see a Final Four of Baylor, U-Conn., Stanford and Georgetown. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) tweeted Thursday, "Go @WestVirginiaU Mountaineers! Beat Clemson! #marchmadness."

Rep. Tim GriffinTim GriffinTea Party class reassesses record Huckabee's daughter to run '16 campaign Lawmakers seek Purple Heart for victims of Little Rock shooting MORE (R-Ark.) was so enthusiastic about the University of Arkansas – Little Rock’s prospects that he even made a statement on the House floor Tuesday afternoon. He lauded the team's first Sunbelt championship and thanked them for representing Little Rock and the state of Arkansas in the NCAA tournament. 

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) decorated his office door on Capitol Hill with a University of Connecticut poster, showcasing his office décor on Twitter on March 15: “Here’s my office door in Washington. We’re ready for the UConn game on Thursday! Go Huskies! http://yfrog.com/h7xnnnqj

Courtney was also concerned his constituents would not be able to see the game and wrote to CBS and the NCAA to broadcast the game so that all Connecticut residents would be able to see the University of Connecticut Huskies play on Thursday.

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense Froman: Too early to start trade talks with the UK Bacteria found ahead of Olympics underscores need for congressional action for new antibiotics MORE (R-Utah) and Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) were rooting for Brigham Young University, both lawmakers' alma mater, over the weekend. "Good Luck to BYU today! Beat Gonzaga- lets get to the Sweet 16! #Jimmer #BYU," Hatch tweeted Saturday before the game.
 
While congratulating BYU's win, McKeon also took the opportunity to defend lawmakers' participation in March Madness. "Congratulations to my alma mater, #BYUCougars, for advancing 2 Saturday's game vs. #Gonzaga. #congresswatchesbasketballtoo #wearepeopletoo"
 
Members of Congress also took to Twitter to talk trash about their colleagues' teams. Sen. Roy BluntRoy BluntThe Republicans' hypocrisy on minimum wage Overnight Energy: Officials close in on new global emissions deal 40 senators seek higher biodiesel mandate MORE (R-Mo.) tweeted Thursday, "Big #Mizzou game tonight vs. Cincinnati Bearcats. Good luck to my friends @SpeakerBoehner & @RobPortman, Cincinnati is going to need it!"

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