Men's Basketball

Fans can all agree: We hate Duke

INDIANAPOLIS — Each team offers plenty of reasons for support, even from heart-broken Kentucky fans, once the Final Four commences Saturday night.

Except one team.

You know which team.

It's not Butler, the hometown favorite, with its quaint campus sitting but a Reggie Wayne deep route from the Final Four site, its rabid fan base flooding the local streets Friday to the point where there was fear the beloved Bulldogs might not make it to their open practice.

"It's sort of awesome to see this support," said Butler center Matt Howard.

It's not Michigan State, which has the Izzo factor, meaning Tom Izzo, the Spartans' wizard of a coach, who this year found a way around the loss of star point guard Kalin Lucas and into the team's sixth Final Four in a dozen years.

"I can't even fathom that," said Butler Coach Brad Stevens.

It's not even West Virginia, which has the Bob Huggins redemption angle to twin with its deep state-wide "Country Roads" following.

"I mean we had 12,000 people come out to see us leave on a bus," said the Mountaineers' Wellington Smith.

No, it's the ABD factor.

Anybody But Duke.

"I think the guys in the past have put that upon us," said Duke forward Lance Thomas on Friday. "Just with the success they've had."

At this Final Four, the anti-Dookie feeling is to the point where some editions of Friday's Indianapolis Star featured a "Despise Duke" story, accompanied by a photo illustration (later pulled) depicting Mike Krzyzewski with horns and a target drawn on the coach's head.

"When I first saw it, I thought, 'How can a newspaper do that?'" said an obviously displeased Krzyzewski on Friday. "It's kind of juvenile. It's not kind of, actually. We have great kids, who go to school and graduate. If that's your problem, then you have a problem."

To some, the problem is an and-one. Duke is a private school, perceived by many to have a haughty upper-crust reputation for arrogance and elitism. And, the Devils have won three national titles and made 11 Final Four appearances since 1986.

Duke's most recent Final Four was 2004, however, when the lasting image in San Antonio was of Krzyzewski cursing the officials as they left the floor after Duke lost 79-78 to Connecticut in the semifinals.

"At times we felt like we had to live up to the past players and what they had done," Duke guard Jon Scheyer said Friday. "I think when we stopped worrying about that, that's when we hit our stride."

Still, something about the Dookies gets under foes' skin. Two years ago, when West Virginia knocked the Blue Devils out of the tournament's second round, WVU guard Joe Mazzulla slapped the floor, Duke-like, on defense. Asked if he would repeat that Saturday, Mazzulla replied, "We'll see how the game goes."

Most fans know how they want the weekend to go. An online USA Today poll showed 49 percent were rooting against the Boo Devils.

The Hoosier state is behind Butler. We now know that Stevens, the team's impossibly youthful coach, left his marketing job at Eli Lilly for an entry-level basketball position, that Howard's mustache has its own Facebook page, that Gordon Hayward grew 8 inches in one high school year, that Shelvin Mack has still not seen the movie Hoosiers.

Once a week, Stevens goes to the Broad Ripple Diner by himself for lunch, just to plan out his practice schedule. This week, Stevens was distracted by all the TVs inside showing different Butler stories.

"I thought, 'Wow, there's a lot of people talking about this,'" he said.

Saturday, there will be a lot of people rooting. Maybe even Kentucky fans. They'll be rooting for Anybody But Duke.

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