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Article:Revisiting my predicted 65

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OK, time for the embarrassment. As a college basketball reporter, I put my reputation on the line four and a half months ago when I took on the unenviable task of predicting the NCAA Tournament's 65 teams.

At this moment, I have no idea whether I picked 20 teams right or 50. I'll take a wild guess of 30.

Here goes....

(I'm doing it be conference.)

Big East Conference TITLE PREDICTION: — Georgetown: Big man Roy Hibbert will have an All-American year, making his decision to return well worth it. AT-LARGE PREDICTIONS: — Louisville — Marquette — Pittsburgh — Syracuse — Connecticut — Providence

TRUTH: Hibbert didn't have a big year and the Hoyas lost in the Big East title game, but they're certainly in. Syracuse blew it and Providence was terrible. But to not get Notre Dame and West Virginia is a disgrace. I'm not disappointed with missing on Villanova.

5-of-7 MISSED: 3

Atlantic 10 Conference TITLE PREDICTION: — Xavier: The Musketeers, led by diminutive guard Drew Lavender, could be even better than last year, when they were a last-second 3-pointer away from beating Ohio State and advancing to the Sweet 16. AT-LARGE PREDICTION: St. Joe's

TRUTH: Xavier was dominant all year, but lost in the tournament. I'm very pleased with the St. Joe's prediction. My mom won't be happy that I didn't choose her alma mater Owls, but they were a long shot.

2-2 MISSED: 1

Metro Atlantic TITLE PREDICTION: — Loyola (Md.): The MAAC's leading returning scorer, Gerald Brown, averaged 22 points last season.

TRUTH: Siena won and Loyola finished tied for third.

0-1 MISSED: 1

Ivy League TITLE PREDICTION: — Cornell: Pennsylvania and Princeton have won or shared the title every season since 1962. Expect a big shift in power this season.

TRUTH: Wow, I got one exactly right. The Big Red dominated the league.

1-1 MISSED: 0

America East TITLE PREDICTION: — Albany: The Great Danes will repeat despite the loss of conference player of the year Jamar Wilson. Vermont, as always, will be their top challenger.

TRUTH: What I learned? Never bet against UMBC. It's going to the dance for the first time.

0-1 MISSED: 1

Patriot League TITLE PREDICTION: — Holy Cross: This is becoming a two-team league, with Holy Cross and Bucknell meeting in the conference tournament title game the past three seasons. Expect it to happen again.

TRUTH: I honestly don't blame myself for this. American won a league that was completely backward. Nothing that happened made sense.

0-1 MISSED: 1

Northeast Conference TITLE PREDICTION: — Robert Morris: No team has made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament from this conference. Expect the same this season as the Colonials unseat Central Connecticut State.

TRUTH: Robert Morris was clearly the best regular-season team, but Mt. Saint Mary's crashed the conference tournament. What's a man to do?

0-1 MISSED: 1

Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) TITLE PREDICTION: — North Carolina: Duke might challenge the Tar Heels, but there is simply too much talent and depth, and Tyler Hansbrough is the most determined player in the country. AT-LARGE PREDICTIONS: — Duke — N.C. State — Clemson — Virginia — Georgia Tech

TRUTH: Horrible, just horrible. For someone living on Tobacco Road, I am ashamed of myself. I only chose two at-large teams correctly, and I guessed wrong on three of the league's bottom-dwellers. Then again, this league was about as predictable as a pigeon race. I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

3-6 MISSED: 1 (Miami)

MEAC TITLE PREDICTION: — Hampton: Rashad West, who led the league in scoring with 17.8 points per game, will help the Pirates back to the Big Dance.

TRUTH: Nobody predicted Coppin State pulling off the miracle in the tournament. Hampton finished second during the regular season. I'm not crying about this bad call.

0-1 MISSED: 1

CAA TITLE PREDICTION: — Virginia Commonwealth: Eric Maynor, who hit the game-winning shot against Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, is back for another run at it. AT-LARGE PREDICTION: — George Mason

TRUTH: Well, I kinda got this. VCU was the best regular-season team, but bombed out in the conference tournament and just missed out. George Mason, meanwhile, won the tournament. I'll take a .500 average.

1-2 MISSED: 0

Big South TITLE PREDICTION: — High Point: Led by Arizona "AZ" Reid, who led the league in scoring with 21 ppg, the Panthers are ready to take over the top spot in the conference from Winthrop, which lost coach Gregg Marshall.

TRUTH: Note to self — never pick against Winthrop.

0-1 MISSED: 1

Southern Conference TITLE PREDICTION: — Davidson: No doubt about this. Led by Stephon Curry, the son of former NBA sweet shooter Dell Curry, the Wildcats should spend some time in the Top 25.

TRUTH: While the Wildcats didn't get the job done against the big boys, they didn't lose a game in the conference. Solid pick, Jake.

1-1 MISSED: 0

Southeastern (SEC) TITLE PREDICTION: — Tennessee: With Florida down and Kentucky rebuilding under Billy Gillispie, this is the Volunteers' season. Scoring point guard and All-America candidate Chris Lofton will lead the charge. AT-LARGE PREDICTIONS: — Florida — Kentucky — Arkansas — Mississippi State — Georgia

TRUTH: I can't believe I'm saying this, but I almost aced this test. Missing Vandy was idiotic and I got lucky with Georgia winning the conference tournament, but I'm not blaming myself for thinking Florida would play enough defense to make it as a 12 seed.

5-6 MISSED: 1

Ohio Valley Conference TITLE PREDICTION: — Austin Peay: Buoyed by the return of all their key players, the Governors will try to get the OVC its first Big Dance win since 1989.

TRUTH: Straight cash, homey!

1-1 MISSED: 0

Sun Belt TITLE PREDICTION: — Western Kentucky: The league should be strong thanks to the return of 80 percent of its top players, but the Hilltoppers will be the best of the 13 teams.

TRUTH: I got Western Kentucky, but South Alabama also got in as an at-large. I guess all those players coming back really helped out the league. Nobody could have guessed the Sun Belt would get two and the ACC just four.

1-1 MISSED: 1

Atlantic Sun TITLE PREDICTION: — Belmont: Expect the Bruins to make their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

TRUTH: Straight cash, homey! But I was wrong. It's actually their third straight appearance.

Big Ten TITLE PREDICTION: — Indiana: A week ago, I would have picked Michigan State, but after watching freshman Eric Gordon play in an exhibition game, I'm convinced he'll be special. And alongside D.J. White, he'll make the Hoosiers the league's best team. AT-LARGES PREDICTION: — Michigan State — Ohio State — Wisconsin — Minnesota

TRUTH: Indiana might have been on track to win the title if not for its head coach going phone-crazy. I jumped on Tubby Smith's bandwagon a little prematurely. OSU not making it was a surprise. As was Purdue almost winning the conference from out of nowhere.

3-5 MISSED: 1

Horizon League TITLE PREDICTION: — Butler: Sure, the Bulldogs lost their coach Todd Lickliter (to Iowa), but Brad Stevens inherits four of the Sweet 16 team's top five scorers.

TRUTH: Anyone who didn't make this pick is, as Seth Greenberg would say, "certifiably insane."

1-1 MISSED: 0

Summit League TITLE PREDICTION: — Oakland: The league, formerly known as the Mid-Continent Conference, has a new name, and it will feature a different team in the NCAA Tournament, as the Golden Grizzlies take Oral Roberts' spot.

TRUTH: Took a chance on the Grizzlies. It didn't pay off. Oral Roberts was clearly the league's best team.

0-1 MISSED: 1

Mid-American (MAC) TITLE PREDICTION: — Ohio: This might be the toughest league to predict, but I'm going with the loaded Bobcats, who will be led by forward Leon Williams, who averaged 14.4 points and 8.8 rebounds last season.

TRUTH: To not even pick a top 3 team is disheartening. Kent State rolled to the title and Akron was pretty good, too.

0-1 MISSED: 1

Conference USA TITLE PREDICTION: — Memphis: The biggest no-brainer. The Tigers could be the No. 1 team in the country, and if their first two games are any indication, freshman guard Derrick Rose is as good as advertised. AT-LARGE PREDICTION: — UAB

TRUTH: UAB was a three-point play away from beating Memphis, and that might have been enough — plus a couple conference tournament victories — to get it in. Oh, well.

1-2 MISSED: 0

Big 12 TITLE PREDICTION: — Kansas: Frank Martin's young Wildcats will give the Jayhawks a scare, but ultimately experience will prove vital as Brandon Rush and a trio of steady guards lead Kansas. AT-LARGE PREDICTION: — Kansas State — Texas A&M — Texas — Oklahoma

TRUTH: One of my best calls. Baylor was a huge surprise. No pain in not predicting its uprising. Otherwise, perfect picks, including the automatic birth.

5-5 MISSED: 1

Missouri Valley TITLE PREDICTION: — Southern Illinois: You know the Salukis will always play strong defense, and forward Randal Falker is a beast down low. AT-LARGE PREDICTION: — Bradley

TRUTH: Believe me when I say, I didn't even know Drake was in the conference back in October.

0-1 MISSED: 2

Southland Conference TITLE PREDICTION: — Texas-Arlington: With every key player back, expect the Mavericks, who were just 13-17 last season, to make a surprise Big Dance showing.

TRUTH: Easily my best choice. I am so proud of this one, I might run for president.

1-1 MISSED: 0

SWAC TITLE PREDICTION: — Grambling: The Tigers, who haven't won a share of the league title since 1989, return seven of their top eight scorers.

TRUTH: What happened, Grambling? A seventh-place finish? And Mississippi Valley State makes Jerry Rice proud.

0-1 MISSED: 1

Big Sky TITLE PREDICTION: — Montana: Jordan Hasquet, who is the lone all-conference returning player, will take the Grizzlies to the tournament.

TRUTH: Montana tied for fourth and watched Portland State win its first ever birth. Not a good pick by yours truly.

0-1 MISSED: 1

WAC TITLE PREDICTION: — New Mexico State: No Reggie Theus, no problem for the Aggies, who return loads of talent.

TRUTH: What can I say? The Aggies lost in three overtimes to Boise State — the king of OTs in both football and basketball. No hanging the head here.

0-1 MISSED: 1

Mountain West TITLE PREDICTION: — BYU: All-conference Trent Plaisted will lead the Cougars in a down year for the conference, which lost several of its marquee players. AT-LARGE PREDICTION: Utah

TRUTH: Well, BYU got in ... but as an at-large. Utah wasn't even close to getting in. And UNLV won the tournament. Good idea, bad execution.

1-2 MISSED: 1

Pac 10 TITLE PREDICTION: — UCLA: This conference is absolutely loaded, but there's no doubt who the top team should be. Keep an eye on freshman giant Kevin Love. He could be special. AT-LARGE PREDICTIONS: — Washington State — USC — Oregon — Stanford — Arizona

TRUTH: Jake, you did it again. Not only did you get the conference champion right, but you got all five at-larges correct, although there is a lot of bickering today that ASU should have gotten Arizona's spot. Life ain't fair, folks (hahaha).

6-6 MISSED: 0

Big West TITLE PREDICTION: — UC-Santa Barbara: Alex Harris, who averaged 21.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game last season, will lead the Gauchos, who will take advantage of the recruiting violations that have negatively transformed the Long Beach State program.

TRUTH: My team won the regular-season title but flamed out in the conference tournament. That opened the door for Cal State Fullerton. Another good pick gone awry at the end.

0-1 MISSED: 1

West Coast TITLE PREDICTION: — Gonzaga: Another easy pick. The 'Zags were able to make the tournament without suspended star Josh Heytvelt a year ago. Now a remorseful Heytvelt is back, along with several other key parts of that team. AT-LARGE PREDICTION: — St. Mary's

TRUTH: I was one game away from getting this right. Then San Diego crashed the party, making this a three-bid league (unbelievable). Still a good showing.

2-2 MISSED: 1

OK, time to tally up the results.

I predicted 40 of the 65 teams.

I will certainly take that and run with it. My Big 12 and SEC predictions made up for many of my misses in the smaller conferences. So my main lesson learned? Pay more attention to the little guys, do some research.

Well, now it's time to look forward. I've got a bracket to fill out.

Unlike with these predictions, I've got a past result to live up to. Last year, I predicted three of the final four teams, and I aced the championship game teams and result. I've got a lot to live up to.

Stay tuned...

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