An early 65

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Well, it’s finally arrived.

The run to 65 begins today/tonight at Cameron Indoor Stadium, with Georgia Southern-Houston and Duke-Presbyterian tonight.

Since my ACC projected records won’t run until Friday in the dead-tree edition, here’s a projection for the conference’s first two games: Duke will win twice to advance to the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic semifinals.

In fact, here’s another bold announcement: Duke will make the NCAA tournament. OK, that’s not so bold.

But since it’s a time for predictions, here is a full prediction of the 65-team field that will be unfurled March 15:

* America East (1): UMBC

* ACC (6): Clemson, Duke, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

* Atlantic Sun (1): Belmont

* Atlantic 10 (2): Temple, Xavier

* Big East (8): Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova

* Big Sky (1): Portland State

* Big South (1): Winthrop

* Big Ten (4): Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin

* Big 12 (5): Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas

* Big West (1): UC Santa Barbara

* Colonial (1): Virginia Commonwealth

* Conference USA (2): Memphis, UAB

* Horizon (1): Wright State

* Ivy (1): Cornell

* Metro Atlantic (1): Siena

* Mid-American (1): Kent State

* Mid-Eastern Athletic (1): Morgan State

* Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Illinois State

* Mountain West (3): Brigham Young, San Diego State, UNLV

* Northeast (1): Mount St. Mary’s

* Ohio Valley (1): Tennessee-Martin

* Pac-10 (5): Arizona, Arizona State, Southern Cal, UCLA, Washington

* Patriot (1): American

* SEC (5): Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Vanderbilt

* Southern (1): Davidson

* Southland (1): Stephen F. Austin

* Southwestern Athletic (1): Alabama State

* Summit (1): Oakland

* Sun Belt (1): Middle Tennessee

* WCC (3): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, San Diego

* WAC (1): Nevada

Patrick Stevens

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