The Anatomy of Hate: What Makes Us Despise College Basketball's Elite?
Usually, hate is too strong a word. Your in-laws? Rude? Maybe. Weird? Probably. Annoying? Undeniably. But do you truly hate them?
For the vast majority of us, the answer is probably no. It is just easier to say we hate something rather than expand in detail about what we dislike about them.
From vegetables to bosses to backseat drivers and know-it-alls, America uses "hate" frivolously to describe any aspect of life that doesn't measure up to our standards and desires. But "hate" is usually unwarranted and inaccurate in describing our true feelings. Except when it comes to basketball.
When it comes to college basketball's elite programs, "hate" may not be harsh enough. Sure, we all have a team that we cheer for and love. But even more importantly we have a team that we loathe and despise. A team we have an unequivocal, unrelenting detestation for and aren't afraid to hate on them.
You know the feeling. You will stay up way past your bedtime, if the team you hate is playing in a tight one, just because of the slight chance to see them be defeated. You scoff at sleep just for the chance to revel in a team's misfortune.
You seriously contemplate choosing a No. 16 over a No. 1 because the No. 1 is your nemesis. Who cares if your bracket is busted before the tournament ever begins? Simply writing that name down is pure agony; like you are vindicating all that is evil in the world and committing treason at the same time.
But why? What makes us so passionate about hating America's elite programs? The science of why we despise the best teams is by no means exact, but there are several common factors that feed the creature that is hate in college basketball.
So what is the true anatomy of hate? The following is an attempt to evaluate and give examples of what teams are hated the most and why. There is no particular order to the teams or reasons discussed; that is another debate all together.
One of the best indicators of how much hatred a team can conjure is their overall dominance on the basketball scene.
It is impossible talk of dominance without mentioning the UCLA Bruins. They crushed the competition in the 1960s and 70s on their way to 10 NCAA National Titles. UCLA also holds the record for consecutive games won at 88.
The hatred of UCLA may have waned in recent decades, both because they have won only one national title since their dynasty was intact in the 60s and 70s, and that was back in 1995.
UCLA did, however, make it to the Final Four for three straight years from 2006-2008. Dominance, at the magnitude that UCLA has exhibited over the years, is far too powerful to forget.
The recent Final Four runs help remind us of what happened back then. So while many people can not remember the dominance that has bred such contempt for this storied program, they still know that the hate is warranted.
"Top of mind awareness" is a fancy advertising term that measures how well products rank in the eyes of consumers. Kansas has earned top of mind awareness in the worst sense of the term. This is mainly because of their 2008 NCAA Title, which no doubt raised their hatred significantly.
Far from a one-hit wonder, Kansas is arguably the Mecca of college basketball. The Jayhawks have won three NCAA Titles and two before the NCAA even existed. They have won almost 2,000 games over the program's history (110 years).
Duke is also one of the most hated teams in the world of college basketball, much of the hate stems from Duke's overwhelming success over the years. The Blue Devils have earned 22 Sweet 16 appearances and three national titles ('91,'92,'01).
Not to be out-hated, Duke's next door neighbor, the North Carolina Tar Heels, have been very dominate as well. With a 74 percent all-time winning percentage, they are one of the most successful teams ever.
Add in four NCAA National Championships ('57, '82, '94, '05) and one before the NCAA even existed (1924). Factor in 27 ACC regular season titles and it is easy to see why many people hold The Tar Heels in contempt.
Kentucky basketball is all but synonymous with the word dominance, because of their consistent excellence over the years. Seven NCAA Championships under four different head coaches to go along with a 76 percent all-time winning percentage speak for itself.
Kentucky has won 46 SEC regular season conference championships and has had over 90 players drafted by the NBA.
There are many other teams that have exhibited dominance over the years and are arguably just as hated as the aforementioned teams.
Indiana showed flashes of dominance in the 70s and 80s, while UConn has inspired hatred over the last two decades because of their teams great successes.
The teams discussed above are a mere example of how hate is often saved for the most powerful. However, there are several other factors that make the hate for basketball's elite fester and grow.
Something that may inspire more hate for an elite basketball program than anything else may be a team's star players. The most hated players had something undeniable in common—they were dominate and turned in clutch performances.
While these vaunted villains are all successful, their personality, appearance, and game helped forge an unique hatred for themselves as well as their teams.
Christian Laettner is one of the greatest college basketball players of all-time and one of the most hated. His bouncy hair, pretty-boy image, and annoyingly consistent ability to hit the big shot helped form a foundation of loyal haters for Duke University.
His level of unpopularity rose to an all-time high when he hit "The Shot" versus Kentucky in the 1992 Regional Final. He caught a full court pass, dribbled once, and sank a jumper to help Duke move on and eventually win the NCAA Title.
Duke's J.J Redick's hate level grew exponentially with each shot he splashed in. Redick's attitude made most frat guys seem unsure of themselves by comparison.
When Redick's cell phone number was leaked during his college career, he received hundreds of hate calls and text messages that gave evidence to just how hated he and his team was.
When he was arrested for DUI in June of 2006, Redick solidified his status as one of the most hated college players of all time, giving more people another reason to hate him.
North Carolina's Michael Jordan is arguably one of the greatest players ever. Championships and a protruding tongue helps give haters another reason to loathe the Tar Heels.
The hate that Indiana's Isiah Thomas has produced for himself and the Hoosiers has been on the incline for years. Full blown hatred may not have been a fair assessment of how people felt when Thomas was at Indiana, but strong dislike was always there.
Flashy and confident, Thomas led the Hoosiers to the 1981 title and created a foundation of what was to become great disdain for himself and even more hatred for the program.
Add in his bad-boy image as a Detroit Piston and more winning ways, to go along with his saga with the New York Knicks after his playing days and "hate" becomes the perfect word to describe how many people feel.
Thomas will invariably be forever linked to Hoosier Basketball, thus spawning even more disdain for the storied program.
Michigan's "Fab Five" brought down old school. Chris Webber, Jalen Rose (pictured) and company had long shorts, black socks, and trash talk.
This helped create a newfound hatred for the program and the players. The booster scandal that made headlines in the 1990s caused NCAA sanctions and forfeitures that only added to their vilification.
Before boisterously yelling "Throw it down big man!" as an NBA commentator, Bill Walton was just a guy with short shorts and big hair who dominated college basketball for UCLA.
His overall greatness coupled with bad fashion and two national championships ('72, '74) created a hatred for this all-time great and his team.
While there are many other notable players that inspire hate on many levels for their programs, these are great examples of how players create the backbone of hate for college basketball followers.
It takes more than success for a team to be hated with such unrelenting fervor as college basketball fans exhibit.
If you were asked to list the best basketball coaches of all-time, coach Bob Knight (pictured) would undoubtedly make the cut. How about most likable coaches? He wouldn't even come to mind, not even close.
To the untrained eye, coach Knight may have seemed like a retired professional wrestler, who longed to be back in the ring, with as many chairs as he has thrown over the years.
From press conference antics to alleged assault of a player, Knight has inspired basketball fans from all walks of life to hate not only him, but Indiana as well.
Since Knight's departure from Indiana, there has been a string of NCAA rule violations, which has kept the hate for the program at a boiling point.
If any coach has conjured more hatred for himself and his team than Knight, it would be his pupil, Mike Krzyzewski. The appearance of Duke's coach alone creates feelings of revulsion for many haters.
Coach K's lips are permanently pursed and he looks more like a middle school principle or small town accountant than a basketball coach. He seems unapproachable on most levels and is punished because he does not look the part.
Krzyewski is often seen as a hypocrite because he preaches good behavior and being respectful but he can often be seen yelling profanities toward players and referees alike.
UNC coach Roy Williams created a new generation of haters after he left Kansas for the chance to coach his beloved Tar Heels in 2003.
Several Kentucky Wildcat coaches have spawned extra hatred for the powerhouse from the SEC.
Adolph Rupp created much controversy and disdain for the program when he refused to recruit African-American players and was seen as unwilling to change.
Rick Pitino is often vilified simply because of his confident demeanor and questionable attire. All white suits and sly winks has only furthered the already deep hatred that is rooted in Kentucky Basketball.
UConn's Jim Calhoun's unapologetic personality and overwhelming success has helped forge a foundation of hatred of the Huskies.
While players come and go, coaches of these vaunted programs are seemingly around for an eternity and help feed the college basketball hate machine.
What makes up hate's anatomy when it comes to college basketball's most prominent programs is the fact that each has several central commonalities that are important for hate to grow and thrive in the hearts' of basketball fans.
There are many other factors that go into brewing up the kind of hate that many programs withstand. These factors are not universal or absolute but contribute greatly to the overall hate in the college basketball universe.
College basketball fans, no matter the team, are passionate, dedicated, and unrelenting. Foam fingers, thunder sticks, and heckling are the norm in college basketball and are accepted by the public to be mere signs of fanhood.
"The Cameron Crazies" (pictured), as they are not so affectionately known, have helped Duke University become one of the most hated teams in the nation. Body paint and chants are more works of art than representation of their school spirit, and their insults have hurt more feelings than a dressing room mirror.
On the court antics can also go a long way in producing the kind of hate that these elite programs are subjected to each year.
Whether it is a goofy floor slap on defense or an pretentious primal scream, the actions of players on the court are often a pain in the side of the collective basketball fan.
A player or team's appearance can also become the subject of angst for many of college's most decorated programs.
Whether it is Adam Morrison's ratty mustache or Indiana's after-dinner peppermint warm-ups, a team's overall appearance are subject to much scrutiny and just one more reason for some to hate.
For the most part, the cream of the college crop are seen as a monopoly when it comes to recruiting, facilities, money, exposure, and almost all other factors dealing with the college game. And people are jealous.
Most people have enough knowledge and respect for the game to realize that these programs are tremendously impressive, even if they can't admit it out loud to themselves or in front of other people.
In the end, it seems that this jealousy is just a way for the mediocre to pay homage to college basketball's most powerful. Often programs that are most hated are the most successful and publicized.
They may hate you, but they need you. Hate: It does a college good.