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Basketball has always been the favorite pastime of former President Barack Obama, and his love for the sport has manifested itself uniquely during his time in the public eye -- perhaps in no more upfront way than the enthusiasm he shows when filling out his NCAA Tournament brackets each year since 2009. While he has generally shared his picks live on television or through social media, Obama this year chose to do so on the new "Ways to Win" podcast debuting Tuesday from his Higher Ground production company, available wherever you find podcasts.

The podcast, hosted by NABC executive director Craig Robinson (Obama's brother-in-law) and Kentucky coach John Calipari, is not so much focused on the sport of basketball but rather how to apply wisdom acquired from game to everyday life. Guests will include prominent athletes, celebrities and standouts in business, all of whom will discuss how they became successful leaders.

Still, given March Madness is the topic of the month, the podcast has decided to begin with a special miniseries surrounding the NCAA Tournament featuring Obama as a guest releasing his picks for the men's and women's events. Throughout the tournament, episodes will focus on how Coach Cal's Wildcats are performing, unique Cinderella stories from the NCAA Tournament and more.

A couple words of self-deprecating caution from Obama on the debut episode of "Ways to Win" before we get to his brackets.

"The first year I did this, 2009, right? I'd been sworn in. And I picked North Carolina. ... And they won. And my bracket was beautiful and people were pretty impressed. They thought, Look at the President United States. He's in the top 4% of all the people who enter in their brackets publicly. And I was kind of feeling it, and I thought, You know what, I think this is what's going to happen every year.

"And I'm pretty sure each year I've lost since then. So, I have not necessarily picked a winner [lately]."

As far as those brackets go, Obama is sticking with chalk for the men, selecting No. 1 overall seed UConn to cruise to the Final Four out of the East Region and ultimately win the national championship. Less chalky is that Obama has the Huskies taking down Calipari's Wildcats, a No. 3 seed in the South Region, for the title. That includes UK going through both No. 1 seed Houston and No. 2 seed Marquette in its bracket.

While Obama did select some first-round upsets, he made the (generally smart) decision to not have those teams move too far in his bracket. Most notable are predictions for No. 13 seed Vermont to take down No. 4 seed Duke in the South Region and No. 12 seed New Mexico to storm past No. 6 seed Clemson in the West Region.

Take a look at his entire men's bracket (click to expand).


It should come as no surprise that Obama has No. 1 seeds South Carolina and Iowa meeting in the women's national championship. Fueled by the respective outstanding play of Kamilla Cardoso and Caitlin Clark, the Gamecocks and Hawkeyes meeting for the title would hardly be a surprise.

While Cardoso is one of many talented South Carolina players who will take the court this month, Obama's pick was based on the team's coach: "Dawn Staley I think is outstanding and just has attitude and swag, and you can tell her players just love her and she's tough and they play disciplined," he said. "I am a big admirer of her."

Obama's upsets here primarily come in later rounds with No. 3 seed LSU projected to go to the Elite Eight over No. 2 seed UCLA, and No. 4 seed Gonzaga getting past No. 1 seed Texas into the Elite Eight.

Take a look at his entire women's bracket (click to expand).


The brackets are one of many topics Obama, Robinson and Calipari cover on the debut episode of "Ways to Win."

The most fun might be Obama reminiscing about the time he had LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose, Maya Moore and others visit him at Fort McHenry for a pickup basketball game on his 49th birthday.

But the trio also gets more serious discussing how to handle pressure in front of a group, how Obama thought of himself while serving as president (as a star player or a head coach?), the future of NIL in college sports, how to develop a tough, hard-working mindset and much more.

Check out "Ways to Win" with Craig Robinson, John Calipari and special guest Barack Obama available wherever you find podcasts.