March Madness: Obama picks USC for Elite Eight, another West Coast team to win it all

Former President Barack Obama gives a thumbs up after the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol.
Former President Barack Obama gives a thumbs up after the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden.
(Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

Former President Barack Obama isn’t known for going out on a limb with his NCAA men’s basketball brackets. This year’s edition is no exception.

He’s got all four No. 1 seeds — Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois and Michigan — advancing to the Final Four, with the top overall seeded Zags picked to win it all.

But he’s got one long shot making it all the way to the Elite Eight.

And guess what? It’s USC, the No. 6 seed in the West regional.


The last time the Trojans made it that deep into March Madness was 2001, when coach Henry Bibby and USC lost to eventual champion Duke 79-69 in the East regional final.

This year, Obama has USC defeating No. 11 Drake, No. 3 Kansas and No. 2 Iowa before losing to Gonzaga.

In his other Elite Eight matchups, Obama has Michigan beating No. 3 Texas in the East, Baylor beating No. 2 Ohio State in the South and Illinois beating No. 2 Houston in the Midwest.

Can you beat Los Angeles Times expert NCAA Tournament picks? Bill Plaschke, Dylan Hernández and J. Brady McCollough share their bracket selections.

March 18, 2021

The former president has UCLA losing its First Four game Thursday night against Michigan State.


He got slightly more daring with his women’s tournament picks, choosing two No. 1 seeds — Stanford and North Carolina State — and two No. 2 seeds — Maryland and Baylor — making the final four, with Baylor emerging as national champions.

In Obama’s bracket, Baylor knocks off No. 1 Connecticut in the River Walk regional final.

The California Baptist women’s basketball team is 24-0, but can’t play in the NCAA tournament because the school is transitioning from Division II Division I.

March 18, 2021

UCLA, the No. 3 seed in the Hemisfair regional, will defeat No. 14 Wyoming before falling to No. 6 Texas in the second round, according to Obama.