Behind The Scenes

Fast Break: Doris Burke on reporting President Obama’s women’s bracket

Andy Katz and Doris Burke at the White House

On Tuesday, ESPN college basketball reporter Andy Katz shared his thoughts on reporting on President Barack Obama’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship bracket.

Today, we explore President Obama’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship bracket with ESPN reporter Doris Burke. Like Katz, Burke visited the White House on Tuesday to quiz the President on his selections.

The President’s selections for the women’s bracket and video will be revealed on SportsCenter at 9 a.m. EDT, Friday, March 16.

Burke shared some insights on her visit with Front Row.

FR: What were the President’s Final Four selections for this year’s women’s bracket?
This year, the President went a little off course by choosing a No. 3 seed to advance to the Women’s Final Four in St. John’s with a win over No. 1 Stanford. He then took the other three top seeds in Baylor, Connecticut and Notre Dame.

FR: Did anything out of the ordinary happen during the bracket selection?
This is the first time the President has gone outside chalk and picked a non-favorite to advance to the Women’s Final Four. The St. John’s women’s team caught his eye this year when the Red Storm snapped UConn’s 99-home game-winning streak. He found that impressive.

While St. John’s has its highest-ever seed, the President sees them as a bit of a Cinderella team, and thinks they can knock off the top-seeded Cardinal. Over the past three years, he has selected the four No. 1 seeds, so this is the lowest team he has advanced to the final weekend.

FR: It has been three years since you first visited the White House for the bracket selection, is the excitement levels still at its peak?
No, it has not changed for me. I was telling Andy as we were waiting; it is almost like the butterflies you get before a big game. It is that nervous energy that something special is going to happen, even though you are not really nervous, just excited.

FR: What is it like to be in front of the President of the United States and at the White House?
The President has a remarkable way to compartmentalize for the short time we had him. He is able to immerse himself in the bracket and have fun with what has become such a big part of the nation’s culture in March.

[With] the number of White House staffers who took delight in having their own bracket in hand, and with us being there to talk about their selections, we could have been in any office in America. And then you snap back to reality and realize you are at the White House with the President of the United States.

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