INDIANAPOLIS — From the Lucas Oil Stadium concourse, Elliott Kirkling was using Friday's Final Four open practices to make a statement about who should win the 2015 NCAA men's basketball championship.
"Duke would be all right," Kirkling said. "Wisconsin would be all right. Michigan State would be all right."
What about the fourth team still alive for the national title?
Kirkling simply pointed at his shirt — which read "Anybody Butt Kentucky."
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"That's how I feel, too," he said.
Apparently, the Clay City, Ind., resident is not alone.
Early this week, ESPN SportsNation conducted a non-scientific Internet survey asking respondents if they would root for Kentucky in the Final Four as John Calipari and the Wildcats (38-0) try to complete an undefeated season.
On a map of the USA, states that were rooting for UK were colored blue. Those rooting against the Wildcats were in red.
The map was a sea of red.
All the Southern states were rooting against Kentucky — Tennessee by a percentage of 60-40, Florida 63-37, Arkansas 67-33.
Kentucky's neighboring Midwest border states were pulling against UK — Indiana by 65-35, Ohio 71-29, West Virginia 75-25.
All of the East Coast planned to pull against the Cats — New York by 66-34, New Jersey 67-33, New Hampshire 67-33.
The Far West will apparently go against the Cats — California by 65-35, Arizona 73-27, Alaska 73-27.
Overall, 49 states on the map were colored red; one, Kentucky, was in blue.
Hey, doesn't anybody outside the commonwealth want to see history completed and the first 40-0 Division I men's basketball team ever?
When I asked national media members here in Indy why they thought more people from states other than ours weren't enthusiastic about the prospect of seeing Kentucky become the first undefeated men's basketball champion since Indiana in 1976, the word that kept coming up was "polarizing."
"I think there is a split in a situation like this," said Myron Medcalf, a college hoops writer for ESPN.com. "Especially with a team like Kentucky that is polarizing in a way."
Medcalf said he believes UK, like the New York Yankees or New England Patriots, evokes strong emotions simply by winning so much.
"You kick everybody's butts, folks don't like you sometimes," he said.
Others say the controversies of Calipari's past, the vacated Final Fours at Massachusetts and Memphis, coupled with his full-scale embrace of one-and-done players continue to make the Kentucky coach a lightning rod.
"I think if you ask people (in Philadelphia) why they would not root to see history, they would probably say 'Calipari and the one-and-done,'" said Dick Jerardi, longtime college basketball writer at the Philadelphia Daily News. "And some of that is because, a lot of the casual fans, they don't really understand what the one-and-done really is."
In Indy, among neutral fans not aligned with any of the participating Final Four teams, feelings Friday about UK's bid for 40-0 were, well, polarized.
Matt Brady, a 36-year-old Purdue fan from Kokomo, Ind., said he would like to see the Cats go undefeated. "I have no problem with it, in fact I'd like to see it," Brady said. "Why wouldn't you want to see history?"
Decked out in dark blue Butler University shirts, Sharon and Jack White of Zionsville, Ind., said they preferred to pull for underdogs in the NCAA Tournament.
"Kentucky is not an underdog. Ever," Jack White said.
Twin brothers Clifton and Christian Allen, 18, of Rochester, N.Y., both want to see Kentucky finish the perfect season.
"I don't even have a reason," Christian said. "I just think it would be cool to see."
Kirkling, the guy in the "Anybody Butt Kentucky" shirt (I neglected to ask him about the spelling of 'Butt') does not like UK's heavy past use of players who stay in college only one year before turning pro.
"I'll definitely be rooting against Kentucky," the 34-year-old said.
Should UK subdue Wisconsin and Duke beat Michigan State Saturday, then Monday night's NCAA championship game could become a vexing dilemma for neutral college hoops fans all around these United States.
"Lots of people root against Duke," Jerardi said. "If it's Kentucky vs. Duke, who would people root for? That one, it would be interesting."