Ranking the Meanest Fans in College Basketball
We've gone past the point of reason.
No matter how many times you tell people that it's a silly little game drawn up by a bored Canadian who had the misfortune of being confined inside the Springfield YMCA...
No matter how many times you mention that the objects of their ire are teenaged amateurs...
No matter how often you point out that the actions of a few damage the reputation of an entire university and its graduates...
People will always, always use college basketball as an excuse to act a damn fool.
And if they're going to use fun and games as a release valve for their ugliest emotional tendencies, we might as well call 'em on it.
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Documented Proof: "Before every game, the student newspaper issues a four-page report on Pitt and their opponents, so fans can come up with proper insults." —Mental Floss, 2/10/2011
What It Means: Deep down, I kind of like Pitt's student section. The Oakland Zoo is loud. The Oakland Zoo is energetic. The Oakland Zoo is well-coordinated. But you don't turn your home arena into a living hell for top-10 opponents without shifting into high jerk every once in a while. Just ask Syracuse.
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Documented Proof: "Washington State coach Dick Bennett publicly apologized yesterday for making an obscene gesture toward the Washington student section during Sunday's men's basketball game at Edmundson Pavilion, a contest the Huskies won 66-48. Bennett briefly gave the middle finger to the student section, which was raucous throughout the game with coordinated chants directed at the Cougars." —The Seattle Times, 1/25/2005
What It Means: It means that legendary coach Dick Bennett has been in front of about a half million college cheering sections during his lifetime and never once felt the need to flip one the bird until his Washington State Cougars visited Washington in 2005.
8. San Diego State
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Documented Proof: "Totally classless move by several dozen San Diego State students who dressed up as Mormon missionaries to mock BYU when the Cougars came to town on Saturday night. Riding the opposition is fine, but there are a few things that are off-limits, and religion is of them." —Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis, 1/25/2010
What It Means: According to its website, the stated motto of San Diego State's student section is "No one likes us, we don't care." Why might folks not like them? Besides the fact that they've treated Mormonism like its some sort of ancestral curse and mocked former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian by insinuating that he'll die soon? No idea.
7. West Virginia
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Documented Proof: "The profanity flying out of the West Virginia student section was so loud it could be heard on national television, prompting a university official to warn students to tone down their language at basketball games." —ESPN, 2/2/10
True story: The only time I've ever seen a fistfight at a basketball game was when a couple from West Virginia tried to tag-team a couple rooting for Georgetown. Security separated the quartet, but not before the woman from West Virginia spilled her beer on my head.
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Documented Proof: "They chanted 'liar.' They chanted 'cheater.' They chanted '[REDACTED] you, Gordon.' The Illinois student section, the Orange Krush, was on IU freshman guard Eric Gordon all night long. It worked." —Indiana Daily Student, 2/8/2008
What It Means: Illinois doesn't allow signs inside Assembly Hall, which means the Darwinian hell spawn that is the Orange Krush student section has had to adapt a chant-heavy form of barbarity. And, we must admit, they're pretty good at it. The Orange Krush is perhaps best known for sneaking into road venues and ambushing opposing players on their own home floors.
5. Kansas State
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Documented Proof: "And when Kansas State hosted Kansas, one prominent sign (partly written in rainbow-colored script) read TIM HARDAWAY STILL HATES KU, a reference to Hardaway's widely criticized homophobic comments last year." —Sports Illustrated, 2/26/2008
What It Means: There is a small-scale internet celebrity named the Kansas State Mask. Before every football game, the Kansas State Mask makes a video aimed at trolling K-State's upcoming opponent. And that's Kansas State fandom for you in a nutshell, buncha low-brow meanies hopped up on MADtv punchlines and decades of bitter failure. In other words, just about what you'd expect from a fanbase that calls its basketball arena "The Octagon of Doom" and once threw bananas at visiting black players from the University of Kansas.
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Documented Proof: "Kevin Love knew it would be bad. But not this bad. Sure, he'd chosen UCLA over Oregon after being the consensus national player of the year as a senior at Lake Oswego (Ore.) High -- but what happened to his home state's rep for peace, love and understanding? On Jan. 23, the day before the Bruins-Ducks showdown in Eugene, Love found more than 30 voice-mail messages on his cellphone when UCLA stopped for a layover in San Francisco. He listened to the first one: If you guys win, we'll come to your house and kill your family. He played another: We'll find your hotel room and blow your f------ head off with a shotgun." —Sports Illustrated, 2/26/2008
What It Means: Legend has it that an Oregon fan once pelted saintly UCLA coach John Wooden with an apple. Couple that with the notorious Kevin Love incident, and I'm not sure we need to go much further.
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Documented Proof: "There was some world-class jagoffery going on in the Duke student section during last night's N.C. State-Duke game. In the second half, N.C. State guard Tyler Lewis stepped to the free-throw line and was reportedly greeted by a chant of, 'How's your grandma?' from the Cameron Crazies. Lewis's grandma died last Friday." —Deadspin, 2/13/2013
What It Means: Known primarily for their rampant elitism, Duke's Cameron Crazies aren't above a romp in the muck when fancy strikes.
Take the incident earlier this season when Duke fans allegedly chanted "How's your grandma?" at an NC State player who had recently lost his grandmother. Don't believe it actually happened? OK, fine. But we are talking about the same student section that's believed to have referenced a 1998 NC State shooting in one of its chants.
And the one that's so ticklishly amused with itself that ESPN filed a online compendium of obnoxious things Duke fans have said to opposing players and coaches. Because there's nothing a Duke fan loves more than upstaging the actual game in order to celebrate his/her own wit.
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Documented Proof: "Going to Duke means he will be really good and be a giant douchebag! The hypocrite coack K with another 1 and done. But Cal is all that is evil according to the biased sports media. Biased media? That’s a redundant statement in America today." —User "Can Fan in NC" commenting on the website Kentucky Sports Radio under an article entitled "Jabari Parker Picks Duke"
What it Means: Most schools made this list based on the rogue actions of a few students—you know, the occasional 20-year-old moron. But not Kentucky. Kentucky basketball is religion, and its acolytes come in every shape, size and color. For these deluded people, every single affront to Kentucky basketball—whether it be the honest assessment of a national pundit or the school choice of a coveted recruit—must be met with impotent rage and accusations of jealousy.
Never graduate, Kentucky. Never graduate.
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Documented Proof: "A raucous celebration after the University of Maryland men's basketball team's win over Duke has left 28 people facing criminal charges and sparked an intense debate between police and students over how and when it is appropriate to break up a group of revelers." —The Washington Post, 3/5/2010
What It Means: Not content merely to be the most riot-happy fans in America, the Terrapin faithful decided to take Rock and Roll Part II, already the banal jock anthem to end all banal jock anthems, and turn it into the most insufferably simplistic, boorishly blunt chant in all of college basketball. An attempt to ban the song in the late 1990's was met with stiff resistance, eventually causing the university to relent. Because at the University of Maryland, one's right to scream "You Suck" at other human beings is the cause worth fighting for.