Teams We Hate
Duke, Akron, and five more odious schools in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2011, at 5:14 PM
University of Kansas*
For an unaffiliated fan, the greatest joy in college basketball is watching a contemptuous, overconfident powerhouse crumble. Of March's perennial contenders, the Kansas Jayhawks have been the most generous in providing these moments of unadulterated chokery, failing to make it past the Sweet 16 as a No. 1 seed five times in nine tries. The satisfying schadenfreude of watching Paul Pierce's 1998 squad (coming off of a 58-point win over Prairie View) humiliated by humble Rhode Island, the thrill of last year's top-ranked team spitting the bit against Northern Iowa … it's hard to pick my favorite Jayhawks loss.
While I sometimes feel bad for rooting against a team I don't care much about, this time around there's no reason to feel guilty about pulling for a Kansas collapse. The Jayhawks' starting point guard Tyshawn Taylor is a bully, both in real life and in the virtual world. Twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris, meanwhile, have a habit of hitting opposing players in the face. Worst of all, senior forward Mario Little was suspended for part of the season after he "allegedly battered [his girlfriend] and pushed her into a sink." So, come on Boston U., UNLV, Illinois, or anybody else—rock, chalk these Jayhawks out of the tournament. This year, they deserve the pain.—Jeremy Stahl
Boston is celebrated for its universities, and surely the city wouldn't be the same without them. They attract world-class intellectuals, support vibrant cultural institutions, and drive the high-tech economy that has allowed the city to remain wealthy and influential. But there's a drawback: undergraduates. The city is teeming with them. They're loud, they're brash, they lack shame. They pummel you with their overstuffed JanSports on the Green Line. They drip their Emack & Bolio's on you on Newbury Street. They desecrate Faneuil Hall by keeping bars like the Purple Shamrock in business. (Yes, Samuel Adams was a brewer and a patriot—that doesn't mean he'd approve of cobblestones running with Jägermeister. Positively Hessian.)
All that is why, despite being a Boston native, I cannot support its college sports teams. (At the Beanpot, I root for everyone to lose.) There was a moment earlier this winter when it looked like three Boston schools might make the Dance. Thankfully, Clemson routed B.C. in the ACC tournament and Harvard lost a heartbreaker to Princeton. That leaves B.U., the only member of the trio actually located in Boston proper. If the Terriers somehow pull out a miracle win, I will feel no hometown pride. Rather, I'll think of what the great Sam Adams once said: "The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil constitution, are worth defending at all hazards—except, perchance, those packs of co-eds who maraud through Kenmore Square, sloshed out of their mind on Jäger bombs."—John Swansburg
University of Memphis
When John Calipari decided he'd prefer to vacate his next Final Four appearance elsewhere, the Memphis Tigers reverted to their true identity. The low-grade bully of a backwater league, Memphis must now toil to attract the factory seconds of the AAU circuit. As soon as Calipari went off to Kentucky, future lottery picks Xavier Henry and DeMarcus Cousins reneged on their commitments to the Tigers and signed with the sport's true blue bloods, KU and UK. In college basketball's one-and-done age, you're only as good as your last recruiting class. While second-year coach Josh Pastner has brought in a more-than-respectable haul of slightly sub-Calipari talent, the next wave of aspiring pros will figure out that Memphis is an empty vessel—southwest Tennessee's answer to Conference USA brethren East Carolina and Southern Miss. For now, Pastner is like a stick-up man with his finger in his coat pocket, desperate to convince everyone he's got a gun.—Josh Levin
*Correction, March 16, 2011:This piece originally and incorrectly referred to Akron University and Kansas University. The schools are the University of Akron and the University of Kansas.