The buzzer-beating shots, crippling gambling losses, and universal expectation that business meetings are optional during close games makes March Madness the most magical time of the year. Unless, of course, any of these easily hatable teams end up with a “One Shining Moment” montage at the Final Four ceremony.
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10. Arizona Wildcats
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Situated slightly north of the Mexican border and miles away from realistic expectations, the delusional (but wonderfully tanned) fanbase of the Arizona Wildcats refuses to accept that their program has faded into what the college basketball world affectionately calls “the Luke Walton World of Mediocrity” (an area of the country where both Jason Gardner and Miles Simon own huge parcels of real estate).
After Lute Olsen left the program in 2008, the school began a maddening descent into irrelevance headlined by one inane decision after the other. The savvy hiring of Kevin O’Neal (a guy the Toronto Raptors deemed blatantly incompetent after nine months), refusing to make Chase Budinger play basketball with a paper bag over his head to avoid scaring women and small children, and attempting to make athletes take their own mid-term exams are just a few examples why the University of Arizona now ranks somewhere between Oregon State and laundry detergent on the NCAA basketball power rankings. (But seriously, you guys got snubbed by the NIT selection committee. The whole thing is just so political! Best of luck in the CBI, though.)
9. Louisville Cardinals
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Boasting a recycled Kentucky coach who’s two greatest accomplishments in Louisville involve a failed Final Four appearance and successfully convincing his mistress to abort their unborn love child, the Cardinals have shot up the unpopularity poll faster than an asthmatic band geek with severe acne and an extensive Dane Cook DVD collection. As the second best team in the bluegrass state, Louisville has developed a small chip on their shoulder that has made them almost impossible to deal with every time ESPN runs a “biggest disappointments of the tournament” montage.
8. Cornell Big Red
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There’s nothing quite like tossing on a retro Casey Jacobsen jersey, cracking open a case of Zima, turning on a college basketball game, and seeing a 19-year-old Adderall dealer and thinking “Son of a bitch, that guy’s going to be my boss someday.”
Watching a group of kids whose combined SAT score is higher than the down payment of my house succeed in sports is more dejecting than being dubbed “too effeminate to join my high school curling team” (screw you, Wise Wood Academy). Cornell has become one of the most consistent teams in the NCAA while demonstrating a firm commitment to academics and obeying the law – essentially spitting in the face of everything college basketball stands for.
7. Any Team Coached by Bob Huggins
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Much like prostate cancer and David Schwimmer, there are a million reasons to lament the existence of Bob Huggins. Between his loose interpretation of DUI laws, disregard of diabetes prevention, and patented “Every Child Left Behind” academic plan that led to the “zero percent graduation rate” of his players, Huggins may actually be the single worst thing to happen to college basketball since Gerry McNamara or local blackouts.
Sure, his Danny Fortson and Kenyon Martin-led teams shockingly accomplished nothing in postseason play, but this year may actually be the one where the Baron of the Buffet marks his territory in the championship circle. His West Virginia Mountaineers are one of the three best teams in the NCAA Tournament and may give Huggy Bear the chance to hoist a championship trophy before promptly leaving the school for a better opportunity.
6. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
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Though they're officially known as the State University of New Jersey (or an “easy win” for any of the 147 Big East teams that play them every year), the Scarlet Knights prefer to think of themselves as “New York’s team.” Sure, they don’t technically play in the Empire State and feature nearly as many players from Africa as they do from the Big Apple, but that doesn’t stop a school that boasts alumni like NBA Rock n’ Jock Hall of Famer Bill Bellamy and a back-up singer from The Fugees from describing themselves as the home team of New York City.
Just ask Howard Stern or Dan Honig. You can’t walk down the streets of Brooklyn without running into at least 17 Rutgers jerseys or seeing Quincy Douby’s NBA potential on the side of a milk carton.
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Watching UCLA miss the tournament this year was sort of like seeing the prom queen of your high school getting eliminated from the opening round of So You Think You Can Dance right before the 20-year reunion. Even though she may have handled her time at the top with a reasonable amount of dignity and very few Ed O’Bannon-related sex scandals, everybody takes a little pleasure in seeing the most popular girl in remedial English (or as it’s more commonly known, the Pac-10) begging A.C. Slater for another chance to bust out the electric slide in front of a nationally televised audience.
4. Kentucky Wildcats
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Any program that welcomes back Antoine Walker on “Chubby, Bankrupt Alumni Appreciation Day” isn’t going to evoke much support from the college basketball community. The Wildcats are blue-blooded NCAA royalty and currently take direction from a coach who collects NCAA violations and five-star recruits like normal people accrue discounted ABBA albums. Kentucky is essentially a 1937 Bugatti being driven by a cartoon villain who hangs heart-shaped posters of Boss Hog and Gargamel on his wall.
It also doesn’t help that Kentucky was repeatedly beaten with the racism stick during Disney’s popcorn flick Glory Road, a sort of, but not really historically accurate depiction of the Wildcats goal to continue segregation in college basketball.
3. Florida Gators
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There’s a fine line between passion and obnoxiousness, and every time the Gators toss on those hideous orange uniforms you can find a University of Florida fan urinating all over it. Ever since Gainesville anointed themselves “Title Town” back in 2006, their fans, coaches, players, and English Literature department have become a real breath of fresh air in the spoiled athlete community. The Gators are the “nouveau riche” program in college sports, and God forbid anybody associated with any of their teams goes five minutes without reminding the world about it.
2. North Carolina Tar Heels
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With the exception of people who use Astrology to make important life decisions, is there anything more annoying than bandwagon basketball fans? If you have to preface your support by explaining that “my uncle drove through Chapel Hill once when he ran out of gas,” or “I saw Vince Carter crying in a bathroom stall while wearing a Tar Heel hat and he asked me if God Hates him” in order to justify your support of the NCAA’s evil empire – odds are, it’s time to pick another team.
The program itself is outstanding, their student body is decent-looking, and Roy Williams hasn’t compared his difficult season to the Haitian earthquake in well over a month. The only thing the school loses points for (besides Serge Zwikker) is the fact that, much like terrorism, when North Carolina wins – the suspected date rapist next door with a Dallas Cowboys bumper sticker and “I Heart Nickelback” coffee mug will call in sick at work the next day because he and Zack Yaguda are out celebrating the victory.
1. Duke Blue Devils
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Whether it’s their smug sense of self-satisfaction or various locker room glory holes, it’s tough to watch 17 seconds of Duke basketball without feeling athletically violated by their arrogant style of play. It’s almost like they take every high school yearbook in America, find the people who won the “most likely to kick a small child and laugh about it” award, and invite them on a recruiting trip to Durham.
Every Saturday afternoon, somewhere in North Korea, Kim Jong-il prepares to watch his favorite team by throwing on his retro JJ Redick jersey before sipping the blood of children as he pleasures himself to the Carlos Boozer sex tape he purchased off of German eBay. (Seriously, I’m pretty sure Duke is the official team of both child murderers and Asian dictators.)
Anyways, enjoy the tournament. It's 2010, and I now get the chance to come in 112th place while getting my self-esteem crushed in an entirely different tournament. (I really hope a woman from accounts receivable who doesn't own a television because she prefers to read books and made her selections based on team jersey colors or "fewest offseason rape allegations" wins......... again.)