March 16, 2012
Now that March Madness is upon us, The Washington Post has found a way to combine two of America’s favorite pastimes – filling out brackets and hating the Duke Blue Devils. With apologies to my Duke friends, presenting March Mad-ness:
This is about finding the most reviled school in college hoops. We asked Post readers for the teams they just can’t root for, and you sent in more than 200 comments. After tallying the recommendations, we’ve arrived at an eight-team field. Check out the bracket (and let your blood begin to boil). Also, take a look at the eight teams and read why they made the cut.
Of course, Duke is the overwhelming favorite.*
This is the third item I’ve come across on a national website this week about loathing the Blue Devils, and it’s not exactly like I’ve gone looking for any of them. NBCSports.com’s College Basketball Talk ran this post today about the post-career life of Christian Laettner, maybe the most hateable Dukie ever. That was tame compared to Slate.com’s “Worse Than Laettner” piece, a six-page chronicle of “the 18 most hateable moments in Duke basketball history.”
I’m not exactly fond of Duke either, but I don’t think I’ve seen so much hating since this.
* N.C. State fans may have a difficult choice to make at the end of this. The bracket sets up fairly well for a Duke-UNC final.
March 10, 2012
The NCAA Tournament picture sure looks a lot better for the Wolfpack than it did at this time yesterday.
Every projection I’ve seen this morning has N.C. State in the Tournament — barely. The consensus seems to be that, as things stand right now, the Pack would be one of the last four teams in and probably playing in the First Four in Dayton on Tuesday.
I’m almost scared to write this, but State feels like a Tournament team after winning against Virginia yesterday. While I recognize that RPI isn’t everything, the Pack now ranks 49th according to Live-RPI.com, three spots ahead of the team they just beat on a neutral floor and with a much better strength of schedule. The Cavaliers are projected as a solid 9 or 10 seed in the Big Dance. If they’re in, then surely State is, too, right?
Things have broken pretty well for State over the last few days, with other bubble teams falling left and right. I know there was some thought that the regular-season sweep over Miami would have looked even better if the Hurricanes hadn’t lost to Florida State last night. But I don’t think the slight boost to the Pack’s RPI was as valuable as watching a team in direct competition for an at-large spot lose.
Still, State’s fate at this point is very much in the hands of the Selection Committee. Despite 22 wins against a tough schedule, the Pack’s only victory against a current Top 50 RPI team* came in November against Texas (who ranks 48th).
Of course, a win against North Carolina today would make the rest of this post moot. And I’d like to think it would be Mark Gottfried’s way of continuing the recent tradition of first-year State coaches making dramatic runs to the ACC Tournament finals.
* Virginia (52) and Miami (59) both fell out of the Top 50 yesterday, according to Live-RPI.com.