I Hate Duke!
My NCAA tournament bracket was distinguished from many others this season when I wrote in Baylor as my upset pick to make the Final Four. But in the waning moments of Sunday’s Southeast Regional Final, strangely, I found myself rooting for Duke. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that no matter what the circumstance, love them or hate them, the Final Four is better with Duke in it. And I make no bones about this: I hate them.
Unless you have attended Duke, or are one of those front-running geeks who have glommed on to the school because of their resume of overwhelming college basketball success, you can’t possibly like the Blue Devils. They are the ultimate antagonists, a bunch of annoying, pedigreed elitists who do things like contrive a collective floor slap intended to spur on their defense as they look wayward to their equally annoying coach, Mike Krzyzewski, with his ugly jet-black hair dye job and his perpetual sneer, complete with flaring nostrils, all of which make him resemble an alley rat. [SIGNUP]
But I digress.
The Final Four is better with a top dog in it. I was hoping to root against Kentucky and their coach, John Calipari, the ultimate carpetbagger. The Wildcats had the best talent in the field. I’m not a big Bob Huggins fan, either (I know graduation rate doesn’t mean much in today’s high powered, money-generating big time college sports, but Huggins once unfurled a 0 percent on us when he was coaching at Cincinnati); but I kind of like West Virginia’s grit. Michigan State is going to another Final Four with a lesser talented team willed to victory by their intense coach, Tom Izzo. Sparty is very likeable. And the story of the whole weekend will be whether tiny Butler (which plays in the same ancient field house the movie Hoosiers was filmed in), the hometown favorite, whose campus is just down the road from the Indianapolis dome, can slay the dragons. But I need a favorite to root against, a Darth Vadar of sorts, and that’s what Duke is to me.
Every annoying white player (and for that matter, a lot of annoying black players) has seemingly passed through Duke. You want a top 10? How about this: Bobby Hurley, Steve Wojohowski, J.J. Redick, Christian Laettner, Cherokee Parks, Chris Collins, Greg Paulus (it was such sweet music to see him benched his senior year, leaving him no other option but to play quarterback, and get hammered while doing so, at Syracuse), Danny Ferry, Greg Koubek (which rhymes with Zoubek, as in this year‘s bearded 7-foot center from Haddonfield, NJ, Brian Zoubek, who’s honorable mention annoying) and Jay Bilas. Although I’m not sure that Bilas doesn’t irritate me more as a broadcaster than he ever did a player. In college hoops, black players normally are cool. Not at Duke, where they had such irritating black stars as Brian Davis and Greg Hill and Shane Battier and his wrinkled Shar pei head. Grant Hill, though, was cool, so they get some brownie points there.
I have no stake in this year’s Final Four other than to root against Duke. And so, I hope they get busted up by West Virginia, because West Virginia won the Big East championship and Villanova played there. And if not that, then I hope that in the national championship game on Monday night, Duke loses to Michigan State and Tom Izzo makes Krzyzewski look like Gino Auriemma. And if not that, then I hope the White Devils…er…Blue Devils lose to Butler, who can write the quintessential underdog story at Duke’s expense.
And if all that doesn’t happen and Duke wins the national title, I’ll miss next week’s blog because I’ll be in therapy.
MIKE MISSANELLI writes for The Philly Post every Wednesday. Listen to him weekday afternoons on 97.5 The Fanatic.