TIM: John, as you know, I am very happy that Duke is in the Final Four. But there has been a bit of an unintended consequence of the Blue Devils’ advancement this season; namely, did you know that people don’t like Duke? That they actively root against Duke? That they may even–and I can’t believe I’m saying this–hate Duke?
I always considered us rather popular.
JOHN S: You may not be wrong about the popular thing. Yes, people “hate” Duke, but they hate Duke the same way they hate the Yankees, the Lakers, Notre Dame, etc. That is, people hate Duke because they are the team of front-runners, passive followers of the game, and entitled fans. Of course, there are components of race and class in the hatred around Duke, but mainly it comes down to this: Success breeds resentment.
Which is actually why this team presents such a problem to Duke haters. There has certainly been a share of anti-Duke sentiment in the run-up to this Final Four–enough to turn scumbag Bob Huggins into a likable coach–but it really hasn’t been a dominant storyline. I’ve actually seen more articles—like this one and this one and this one–calling out Duke haters for basically being hackneyed and outdated.
Because this team hasn’t been talked about all year, doesn’t have any real national stars, was not a presumptive Final Four team, and doesn’t live and die by the three–in short it doesn’t exhibit the qualities of traditional hated Duke teams.
Part of this is also due to the simple fact that Duke hasn’t been to the Final Four since 2004; there are people in high school who can’t remember the last time Duke won a national championship. Duke hate just doesn’t resonate like it once did.
With that said, if Duke and Butler meet in the championship, I’m sure fans will view it as Good vs. Evil, David vs. Goliath.