Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted in 2005.
Every time someone shows video of Anderson Hunt's missed shot and then Duke celebrating its upset of UNLV in the 1991 Final Four, I check whether I can be seen in the front row of the media section.
So far, so invisible, thank goodness, because if I were caught on camera, one of the most unprofessional acts of my career would be revealed.
In 33 years in the business, that night in Indianapolis was the one time I rooted so openly for a team from a media seating area that I reacted physically, pumping my right fist when things went my way.
(Technically, I was not covering that game. I was assigned the earlier semifinal between Kansas and North Carolina while future SI star Tim Layden handled the nightcap. But I watched the last 10 minutes from press row.)
Why root for the Blue Devils?
Because in the paper of March 6, 1991, before UNLV had even played in its conference tournament, I wrote a column in Newsday guaranteeing the Runnin' Rebels would fail to win it all.
It began like this:
"UNLV will not win the NCAA Tournament. Remember where you read this first. Tear out this page. Circle the byline. Ignore the other predictions you will read and hear next week. The Team of the Century will be history before midnight April 1, the night of the NCAA championship game."
Hence the fist pump when Duke won, 79-77.
Two days later, Newsday reprinted part of my article to crow about the genius of its young college hoops savant.
This was four months before the World Wide Web went public, so the achievement was little noted outside Long Island, alas.
Naturally I was reminded of all this because of the similar circumstances this spring, down to the fact the Final Four will be held in Indy.
For those too young to remember, that UNLV team featuring Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony and Stacey Augmon was considered every bit the undefeated juggernaut Kentucky now is.
Plus, it had vastly more experience, including a rout of Duke in the 1990 championship game.
But it played in a not-so-great conference, like the current Kentucky team, and, well, the law of averages suggested there will be a slip-up sometime, right?
So I rolled the dice on my young career and reputation and got it right. Now I have more seniority and less to lose, other than college tuition funds, so let's try this again.
Kentucky will not win the NCAA Tournament.
Remember where you read this first. Print out this page. Circle the byline. Ignore the other predictions you have read and heard this week. The Team of the Century will be history before midnight April 6, the night of the NCAA Championship Game.