I hate Duke.
I hate that the national media loves Duke and constantly praises its players for their intelligence and class. But according to a study done by the San Jose Mercury News in the mid-’90s, Duke’s freshman basketball players had an average SAT score of 968.
I hate that Duke is on national television every week and is constantly trumpeted by one of my favorite announcers as a shining beacon of all that is right with college basketball (thanks Dukie V.).
I hate Coach Krzyzewski’s combover. And that his last name sounds nothing like it’s spelled.
But even I have to give the Blue Devils their props.
This week, Duke fell out of the AP Top 25 for the first time since the end of the 1995-96 season. It had been ranked in every single ESPN/USA Today poll in its nine-year history.
That’s stunning. Having a basketball team rated as one of the top 25 teams in the nation for 200 straight weeks is unheard of, especially in an era with players leaving early for the NBA, and with recruits like Kobe Bryant and Shaun Livingston spurning the Blue Devils entirely.
Teams fall in and out of the rankings all the time. Just this season, esteemed programs like Georgetown, Texas, Michigan State, Indiana and Kentucky have failed to make the top 25 in a given week. But when Duke dropped from the polls, it was national news.
Knocking the Blue Devils out of the rankings wasn’t easy. They had to drop four consecutive games, and notch six conference losses for the AP to do it. Just three teams in the current top 25 have five conference losses.
But Duke isn’t even bad now. Its record is 18-7 (better than Michigan’s), and it has beaten three ranked opponents (Georgetown, Gonzaga and Clemson). Michigan, on the other hand, has beaten none.
Barring a complete collapse, which, given its coach and the talent on the team, is virtually impossible, Duke will easily make the NCAA Tournament. Nobody would even be surprised if the Blue Devils won the ACC Tournament, or righted the ship in time to garner at top-five seed in the Dance.
Just look at exactly how dominant the Blue Devils have been in the past decade.
Since the end of 1997-98 season, they’ve got one national championship, one finals appearance, one additional Final Four Appearance, one Elite Eight appearance, five Sweet 16 appearances and nine NCAA Tournament appearances. They’ve won the ACC regular season title and the ACC Tournament seven times each. And that’s in a pretty elite conference.
They were ranked No. 1 in the final AP poll five times and averaged more than 31 victories per season in the past decade. They’ve had five national players of the year, eight consensus first-team All-Americans and nine NBA Lottery picks.
For comparison’s sake, let’s look at another elite program over the same time span: Arizona.
The Wildcats have 51 fewer victories, two fewer conference titles, no NCAA championships, one Final Four and no national players of the year.
Let’s not even mention Michigan.
The Wolverines have barely half as many victories, no Big Ten regular-season titles, no Final Fours and no first-team All Americans. Oh yeah, they’ve got an NIT title.
Michigan tried to grab some of the Blue Devil magic when it hired Tommy Amaker, who used to play for Duke and coached under Krzyzewski.
Sadly, it appears as if few of the Duke assistants learned the magic formula from Coach K. Amaker, former Missouri coach Quinn Snyder, former Delaware coach David Henderson and current TCU coach Neil Dougherty have all fallen short of attaining even consistent success after leaving Durham, N.C.
I’ll still always hate Duke.
I’ll always hate Cameron Indoor, I’ll always hate the “Duke mystique,” I’ll always hate when the Duke point guard pounds the floor on defense and I’ll always hate the national spotlight that eternally shines on the Blue Devils.
And now I’ve written a column full of statistics and accomplishments that any and every Duke fan can fall back on if someone (me) tries to denigrate the Devils during what we can only hope represents their demise.
Kill me now.
– Bromwich doesn’t want a single Duke fan e-mailing him or finding him and telling him how much this column was appreciated. He doesn’t care and would love for someone to remind him how much Duke sucks. That, or proof that Coach K’s hair is fake. To do this, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.