In addition to Friday's tilt with Michigan playing Kansas, we'll all be keeping an eye on the MSU vs. Duke game. For many of us it's a classic meteor game, with the upside being that one of them has to lose, but I thought the board might like to sound off on who to pull for.
I've pretty quickly concluded that I'll pinch my nose and pull for MSU. Partially for Big Ten pride, partially because I have a modicum of respect for the job Izzo's done (even if much of it was done via low-hanging fruit from the Ed Martin bushwa), and part of it because I know some pretty decent MSU fans. But mostly because I have an almost pathological dislike for Duke and the bulk of their fans.
I first came to dislike Duke because of Christian Laettner. I read a story in SI way back when where Cherokee Parks came to Laettner's dorm room on a visit, and Laettner cold-cocked him - and followed it up with screaming at Parks about how tough you need to be to play for Duke. At the time I thought "this guy Laettner sounds like a total jackass" and nothing I've seen since changes that view. A talented jackass to be sure, but a jackass.
And then there's Krzyzewski. When I was a kid, I bought into the "he's a class act and does things the 'right way'" image that's hard to get away from even these days. As I got older, I learned to dislike the cult built around him - it's an almost pre-Sandusky Paterno cult of personality. He's been successful, but seems like a weasel most times I see him. From his whinging about fans rushing the court after losing to VA, to his talking about recruiting kids with "character" but somehow overlooking recruiting areas like Detroit (Shane Battier doesn't count - Detroit Country Day sure isn't Detroit!), to defending thuggish moves from the likes of Gerald Henderson, to the American Express ad, and on and on.
And the Duke fans are generally wretched. Anyone who jaws about "Michigan Arrogance" or "Domer Arrogance" likely has not seen the pinnacle of douchebaggery. Whether they chanted about NC State's player's grandmother's death or not - the fact that it was believable to many spoke volumes.
(I have some respect for a few Duke alumns - Grant Hill, Tommy Amaker, and several on the academic side of the equation. But if Coach K. and Laettner are going to be your poster children, well - that's your poster.)
So yeah - MSU fans may have a large juggalo contingent, wear a bunch of Axe, burn upholstered furniture at bad times, and paint numbers on their chest representing days since U-M won in basketball right before they lose on national TV. But I'll be grudgingly pulling for them on Friday.
Who are you pulling for, and why?