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Final grade for 2018 predictions: See me after class

The page has officially turned to 2019, so Happy New Year, Kauai! Predictions for the coming calendar year will be here on Sunday, but I don’t want to simply move on and forget about the past just yet. As a whole, 2018 was a pretty weird 12 months. Trying to predict its outcomes may have been a fool’s errand to begin with. But I’m all about accountability, so let’s take a look at what I had predicted right here last January to see how it all played out.

• Gabriel Medina will unseat John John Florence as WSL world champion — Well well well, we’re starting out with a strong one. Medina did secure his second career WSL world title by winning the Billabong Pipe Masters and holding off Julian Wilson in second place. The Brazilian was brilliant all season, but really dominated down the stretch, winning three of the final five contests.

• Matt Wilkinson will not finish in the top 10 of the WSL rankings — I could never have imagined just how correct this prediction would prove to be. After finishing fifth in the rankings during both the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Wilkinson fell all the way to 25th in 2018 and did not re-qualify for this season’s Championship Tour. He tried to make a late push, but Wilko lost in the second round six times in the first eight contests and never got his season on track.

• Courtney Conlogue will win the WSL women’s world title — If I were trying to justify my, um, less successful predictions, I may say something about Conlogue only being healthy for four contests and winning two of them. But this was not Conlogue’s year to win her first championship, as I expected it would be. Even had she been healthy all season, Stephanie Gilmore seemed unbeatable in 2018.

• The Falcons will return to their second straight Super Bowl (and lose again) — Things seemed to be aligned for the Falcons last winter, despite entering the NFC Playoffs as the sixth seed. They did pull off the upset during wild-card weekend, knocking off the Rams in Los Angeles. But the Eagles managed to not only survive, but thrive with Nick Foles taking over for Carson Wentz and Philadelphia knocked off Atlanta in the divisional round on their way to a Super Bowl victory. Things are lining up in an eerily similar fashion this time around, as well.

• The Cleveland Indians will win their first World Series since 1948 — It was not to be for the Indians in 2018, making it 70 straight seasons in which that has been the case. Cleveland did win 91 games and entered the playoffs as AL Central champs, but they were succinctly swept by the Astros in the divisional round. Cleveland likely has a few more runs at it since its division is otherwise weak, but the window is beginning to close.

• The Warriors will win another NBA Championship — Alright, back on track. This wasn’t the most difficult prediction, as nobody gets huge points for picking the Warriors to win it all. But it did not come easily. Golden State won 58 games (down from 73 and 67, respectively, the prior two seasons), survived a seven-game series against the Rockets in the Western Conference Finals (during which Chris Paul was injured and missed Game 7), before going on to sweep the Cavs in the NBA Finals.

• The Oklahoma Sooners will win the NCAA men’s basketball championship — Yikes. The Sooners completely fell apart once conference play got going. Trae Young had me hypnotized early on, but Oklahoma really had no business even making the NCAA Tournament and quickly fell in round one against Rhode Island.

• The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors will go 9-7 in conference play — Close, but no cigar. The Hawaii men went 8-8 in Big West action on their way to a 17-12 regular season mark. The ‘Bows then dropped a heartbreaker, 68-67, to UC Irvine in the opening round of the conference tournament.

• Georgia will defeat Alabama for the College Football Playoffs Championship — I think we can safely say that Tua Tagovailoa single-handedly ruined my final prediction. Georgia seemed well on its way to winning the national title before the true freshman stepped in, re-wrote history and, well, we know the rest.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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