This story is proof that Chris Matthews’ famous tingle has reached his brain, either that or there is so little positive to say about the Obamessiah that Matthews is scraping the bottom of the barrel.

On last night’s show, Matthews actually spent time raving about Obama’s NCAA picks calling them Close to Brilliant. Now lets forget about the fact that the President’s pics were average at best, and even ignore the fact that the President was screwing around with basketball picks instead of managing the country as it nears the economic abyss. On the day that Matthews was raving about Obama’s picks the Treasury Secretary announced his new bank bailout plan, home sales showed growth and the stock market was up 500 points.  Hey Chris there wasn’t anything more important to talk about?

Matthews: Obama’s NCAA Picks ‘Close to Brilliant’; Almost Half of ESPN Entrants Doing Better!

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By Noel Sheppard

Would you call getting a 53 on a test “close to brilliant?”

If you’re Chris Matthews, and you’re reporting about Barack Obama you would, for on Monday’s “Hardball,” the MSNBC host bragged about his president being “close to brilliant,” “amazing,” “incredibly on target,” and “unbelievable” with his NCAA college basketball tournament picks [1].

Yet, when you dig into the numbers, out of all the entrants into’s Tournament Challenge 2009 [2], Obama currently ranks 2,167,290, which makes his relative score compared to others 53.20 percent.

This means that 46.80 percent of contestants — or almost half — are doing better than the President, but that didn’t interfere with Matthews’ praise (h/t NBer Chris Bennett):

So, how’s President Obama doing? His job approval ratings are still high. What about his NCAA bracket picks? Actually, they‘re close to brilliant. It’s amazing how the guy has extra I.Q. points to do this stuff. But he is incredibly on target with—of course, he‘s picked the higher seeds, of course. […]

Now for tonight’s “Big Number.”

March madness is in full swing, which gives us the opportunity to study the predictions of the basketball aficionado now working in the Oval Office. How many teams in the Sweet 16 did President Barack Obama correctly pick? Unbelievable. Fourteen of the 16. He got them right. The two teams he didn‘t expect to make it and did were Arizona and Xavier.

President Obama correctly picked 14 out of the Sweet 16 — tonight’s “Big Number.”

Now let’s hope he has got as good of pick in percentaging in the financial crisis. Let‘s hope he‘s as sharp there.

Actually, with 46.80 percent doing better, let’s hope Obama’s handicapping of the financial crisis is far more astute or we’re ALL in a LOT of trouble.

That said, for the record, regardless of rankings, there is NOTHING brilliant about Obama’s picks so far. After all, of the sixteen he predicted would get into the third round, only one wasn’t a top four seed in its respective bracket.

As such, those that picked all four regional top seeds to get into the Sweet Sixteen got fourteen out of sixteen right just like Obama.

Furthermore, Obama’s only deviation from top fours was Purdue — a five seed. Predicting a five to beat a four is NOT rocket science, and by no means brilliant.

Sadly, this was lost upon Matthews whose tingle up the leg continues to interfere with his cognitive skills.