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Thursday, November 16, 2006's Luke Winn's Mea Culpa - We Made a Mistake, We Left Memphis Off Our Field of 65

11/15/2006 12:03:00 AM

The Memphis Gaffe

Memphis fans: You're ticked. And I'm ticked too -- at myself. So I'm going to try to do the right thing and set the record straight: In the projected NCAA tournament field that appears in this week's SI preview issue, the Tigers were NOT intentionally left out of the Field of 65.

I, and everyone else in our college hoops gang, fully believe the Tigers are going to win the Conference USA. Handily win the C-USA. They were No. 13 in the Power Rankings I posted on the site in October, and were similarly ranked in the ballot I submitted this summer. (The rankings in the magazine are a collaborative effort, an internal poll of sorts -- they aren't solely my opinion.)

When I wrote the blurbs for the rest of the field, I mistakenly believed Memphis would be among the top 16 featured in our Scouting Reports ... and only put Houston, our No. 2 team from the C-USA, in the 17-65 section. I've spoken with our editors who read the piece and they too, confirmed that had the oversight been spotted, the Tigers would have been in the bracket. But this one is on me.

To recap: There is no SI conspiracy against Memphis. There was an honest mistake made (mine). And I'm sorry.

As an addendum, here are a few more specific replies to the hordes of irate e-mails that poured in tonight:

• No, I did not smoke crack and decide that Houston would win the C-USA.
• I'd appreciate it if you did not make good on your threat to use physical force if I ever set foot in FedEx Forum.
• I promise that hours and hours of work go into those tourney picks -- thorough research of each conference race, roster assessments, etc. -- and we do take them very seriously. And a mistake like this in SI is not acceptable. But I don't think being shot or banished from the college basketball world is a reasonable punishment.

The only bright side to this: You can brag to your less-informed friends that Memphis is your sleeper pick this year ... and when the Tigers make a Final Four run, claim to have known all along that, even though those "experts" at SI left them unranked, you knew Calipari and the boys had potential.

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