Obama to Tar Heels: Thanks for saving my bracket

Posted May 4, 2009 3:41 p.m. EDT
Updated May 11, 2009 8:15 p.m. EDT

— The first fan paid his respects to the Tar Heels Monday when the North Carolina men's basketball team visited with President Barack Obama at the White House.

"I want to congratulate all you guys for an outstanding season," Obama said.

The president thanked the Tar Heels – from coaches to players to ticket-takers – praising the team for their fifth NCAA championship and second in five seasons. He had special words of praise for head coach Roy Williams.

"He is just as serious about making these guys into men and into leaders as he is about making them basketball players," Obama noted.

Read a transcript of the conversation.

Obama offered special congratulations to the seven seniors who graduated on Sunday. "I am proud of all of you," he said.

The team made Obama's bracket a winner with its romp through the NCAA tournament. "Thanks for salvaging my entire bracket," he said in opening his remarks.

North Carolina was the only one of his Final Four picks to make it to Detroit, but the Tar Heels' 89-72 win against Michigan State on April 6 allowed him to finish in the top 20 percent of the 5 million-plus people who entered a nationwide pool on

The president also referenced a pickup game he played with the team last spring, during the presidential campaign.

"I'm not sure whose luck rubbed off on who," he said. "Because they are now national champions, and I am now president."

Williams presented the president with a UNC jersey with his name and the number 1 on the back.  The coach said he was more nervous in front of the friendly gathering – including the president – than he had been during the national championship game.

Members of the North Carolina congressional delegation – representatives G.K. Butterfield, Mike McIntyre and Brad Miller and Sen. Kay Hagan – joined Williams and his team at the White House. State Attorney General Roy Cooper was also in attendance.

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