The Duke Blue Devils Just Won It All, So Why All the Hate?

Justin McTeerCorrespondent IApril 7, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 05:  (L-R) Lance Thomas #42, Brian Zoubek #55, Jon Scheyer #30, Nolan Smith #2 and Kyle Singler #12 of the Duke Blue Devils walk out on the court in the second half while taking on the Butler Bulldogs during the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 5, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

By now, you've surely heard about how the talentless 2009-10 Duke Blue Devils lucked out with an NCAA title after the NCAA selection committee paved their road to the championship with Duke-blue-colored roses.  

Despite the sarcasm (hopefully you noticed), the above statement isn't too far off the actual spin being broadcast across the sports world in the wake of Duke's 61-59 victory over Butler to clinch the school's, and coach Mike Krzyzewski's, fourth NCAA title.

Apparently, the committee stabbed Kansas in the back by setting them up with an impossible second-round game against Missouri Valley powerhouse Northern Iowa.  

Then, they robbed West Virginia of a No. 1 seed in favor of Duke because they knew the Mountaineers would beat a Kentucky team that would have killed Duke in the Final Four. But then West Virginia would get slaughtered by the Blue Devils who, again, would have been killed by Kentucky.

Sounds feasible, right?

In all seriousness, the hate being thrown at this Duke team is surprising, even for a Duke team.

From fans, it's understandable.

No matter how little a casual fan follows college basketball, Duke will always be the dominant program from a decade ago instead of the underachieving team with which this current crop of Blue Devil players have been associated.

After all, Bulter was a cinderella team (in the Top 10 preseason ranking and having won 25 straight games going into the championship game kind of way) and Duke is, well, Duke. No wonder the masses in America wanted the Blue Devils to fail so badly.

But why the harsh anti-Duke bias from writers and analysts as well?

There is no denying the plethora of articles, many from major sports outlets, taking shots at Duke or, at the very least, minimizing the Blue Devils' accomplishment.  The Duke hate seems to be everywhere.


The reason is simple—Duke proved a lot of so-called "experts" wrong this year, and experts hate to be proven wrong because it makes them look like anything other than experts.

Read an article that minimizes Duke's title run, and you'll likely find it written by an analyst who confidently predicted the Blue Devils to flame out early in the tournament.  In all probability, you'll discover that the author predicted Duke to lose in the second round to Louisville (who didn't even make the second round).  

If he or she didn't pick Louisville or California to beat the Blue Devils in the second round, it's likely that he or she went against the grain and picked Duke to go down in the Elite Eight to Baylor in Houston because this Duke team just wasn't able to win on the road.

Even if the "expert" picked Duke to make the Final Four, smart money would rest on he or she saying it was only because the South Bracket was so weak. If that's the case, he or she likely swore that Duke would be exposed in the Final Four.

The truth is that this is a Duke team no one saw coming—not the most respected of college basketball experts and definitely not the idiots parading as experts when they are clearly anything but.

When the Blue Devils were embarrassed by Georgetown on the road at the end of January, it became nothing short of official that this was the same Duke team from previous years—good in December, lacking in March.

But then Duke won 12 of their last 13 games going into the tournament, not losing a single game in February.

That feat didn't up the Blue Devils' stock much, however.  Most just chalked their success up to the ACC having a down year.

But Duke continued to answer every "expert" criticism thrown their way.

To those who claimed they couldn't win true road games, Baylor and Butler say hi.

To those who claimed they would get exposed by longer, more athletic teams, Baylor and West Virginia say hello.

To those who claimed they couldn't win if their three point shots weren't falling, the Butler Bulldogs would like to introduce themselves, again.

On their way to an improbable (let's not pretend like Duke was the Goliath everyone feared this season) NCAA title run, the Blue Devils answered every criticism thrown their way, and they won 18 of their last 19 games along the way.

What's left to criticize?


What's there to hate?

A written-off, upperclassmen-laden team without much NBA talent who nobody thought would win it all?

That sounds like the team most people root for. Like it or not, that's the team that won it all in 2010.

Duke did what no other No. 1 seed could.  In fact, they did what no other team could, and they did it with less talent than Kentucky, Kansas, and a handful of other powerhouse teams.  

You don't have to love the 2009-10 Duke Blue Devils, but they don't deserve the hate—not that they care either way.


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