Romney will pass on NCAA tournament predictions

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By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Mitt Romney clearly is not running to be the nation's top sports fan.

The GOP presidential candidate says he won't be filling out a college basketball tournament bracket, an annual tradition for millions of Americans including President Barack Obama.

"I'm not plugged in well enough this year to do that," Romney said Tuesday during a brief exchange with reporters traveling with him in Missouri.

Basketball player and fan Obama is making his NCAA tournament predictions public for a third straight year. ESPN on Tuesday revealed Obama's Final Four: Kentucky, Ohio State, Missouri and North Carolina. ESPN said it would unveil the president's entire bracket on Wednesday.

Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron are planning to attend a "First Four" matchup in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday between Mississippi Valley State and Western Kentucky.

In 2011, Obama's men's bracket ranked 746,086 overall, placing him in the 87.4 percentile, ESPN said. The president failed to predict any of the Final Four teams in the previous two years, but he correctly picked North Carolina to win the national championship in 2009.

Obama said in an interview last month with journalist Bill Simmons that the "mythology of sports" is deeply embedded in the U.S., allowing viewers to discern who is winning and who is losing — a principle that could easily be transferred to politics.

Picking basketball winners and losers can cut both ways in politics, however. It lets a president or candidate share in a pastime that has become hugely popular with Americans.

And in choosing Ohio State, Missouri and North Carolina for the Final Four, Obama picked three teams from states that could be crucial in the fall elections.

But there was little advantage in picking powerhouse Kentucky, from a reliably GOP state.

And what about those he didn't select? No Florida or Florida State, Mr. President?

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