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John McCain, Barack Obama neck-and-neck (in NCAA picks)

April 5, 2008 | 12:02 am

The two guys remaining in the presidential race gained a fair amount of press two weeks ago when they made a point of disclosing their picks in the NCAA college basketball tournament (Hillary Clinton did not fill out a bracket sheet -- at least not for public consumption).

Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain of Arizona and Illinois Senator and Democratic candidate for president Barack Obama are both doing well in their NCAA brackets So now that the Final Four matchups are upon us, how did Barack Obama and John McCain fare? Pretty well.

Neither foresaw that each of the No. 1 seeds would advance, but both picked three of the top dogs to survive. And that includes their mutual selection to win it all -- the University of North Carolina.

Obama, though, has a chance to edge out McCain for best showing, at least in terms of the remaining games. Along with UNC, he tabbed another team still alive -- UCLA -- to square off in Monday's championship.

McCain chose UNC to play the ultimate game against a No. 4 seed that failed to make it to the final round -- the University of Connecticut (perhaps his thinking was influenced by Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has broken with his Democratic roots to actively promote the presumed Republican presidential nominee).

The one pick by Obama that got left in the dust also was a No. 4 seed -- the University of Pittsburgh (perhaps, in this case, he had an eye on how his choices would play in Pennsylvania as its April 22 primary approaches).

The one No.1 team that Obama disrespected, by the way, was Memphis. On McCain's card, it was UCLA (and here we thought McCain was that rare GOP White House contender with a fondness for California).

-- Don Frederick

                                    Photo credit: Wally Skalij,  Los Angeles Times