College basketball season more or less began this week, with the 24-hour hoops marathon on ESPN yesterday and big wins from Duke and Michigan State last night. We're not here, though, to talk about those games, or the year's surprising mid-majors or national championship contenders or whatever top-10 recruits John Calipari has brought to Lexington this year.
Let's talk instead about the fans. Specifically, the shittiest fans. The fans who make you visibly angry when you see them on TV. The fans who you want to throw your beer at if you have the misfortune of being near at a bar. The 10 most hatable fan bases in college basketball.
Before we begin, here's what we looked for:
a. Over-the-Top Boorishness: Are you setting cars ablaze after wins (or losses), throwing projectiles at players' parents, or hurling insults at 7-year-old kids? Are you threatening to kill opposing players? Are you at that level of inappropriately drunk when even inappropriately drunk people are like, "Woah, easy, bro"?
b. Douchebaggery: Do you feel like your school is entitled for wins? Are you sitting in the best seats in the house and wearing an argyle sweater? Do you call the NCAA Tournament as "our regular season?" Do you refer to your team's coach by his first name as if he's a close personal friend and not just a gun-for-hire?
c. Fair Weatherness: Are you conspicuously silent during dry periods? Have you hopped on and off a bandwagon more times than U.S. generals hop on and off women from Florida? Does your fandom change with each recruiting class?
d. Poor Fan Knowledge: Do you yell out unimaginative, lame insults? Do you claim to be a knowledgeable basketball fan and have no idea what Conference USA is? Are you not even vaguely aware of three players who went to your school before you matriculated?
Those are the ground rules. So, this means the list is made up mainly of visible fanbases. Just as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny can't piss you off, neither can a Wake Forest supporter.
Here we go.
You may have heard of John Wooden. UCLA fans cannot stop talking about John Wooden. Yes, he was by all accounts one of the few coaches in history who wasn't an utter sociopath. Yes, he won many, many championships. But the hero worship is getting absurd. You are not entitled to wins because of the '70s. Go to the games.
(Plus you get to live in L.A. while the rest of us on the East Coast get pelted with hurricanes and snow, and all the women here are always angry and cold. You shouldn't get to have good basketball teams or even the possibility of seeing Shabazz Muhammad play this year. I'm bitter.)
Part of me doesn't want to put Syracuse on this list, because if you show up at the Carrier Dome wearing a Georgetown shirt, you probably deserve at least a little abuse. However, Robb Stark (a Hoya) insisted, so here we are.
Why is Syracuse hated? While 'Cuse fans are known to be knowledgeable basketball fans, they're perhaps a bit too smug about their past Big East success. They travel in massive numbers to away games, annoying the shit out of anyone who would be interested in buying a ticket without selling his first-born daughter into prostitution. And if you're ever cornered in a bar by one, be prepared for an explanation of what the fucking zone defense is, because Jim Boeheim is apparently the only person in the country who runs it.
Also, some GTown dude got hit with a water bottle one time [above]. How would he ever pick up awful Georgetown Yuppies with a facial bruise?
Look, we all love Kevin Love here. He's a talented forward who took his game into the stratosphere the old-fashioned way—a funny Twitter account.
But Oregon fans are NOT Kevin Love fans. In fact, they threatened to kill him, sparking a national conversation on how far is too far, which has ruined insults for the rest of us.
From Sports Illustrated:
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.... Stan says his family was pelted with popcorn cartons and empty cups, as well as a barrage of profane insults ("every filthy word you can think of"), including screams of "whores" that made Kevin's grandmother cry. "There were six-year-old kids with signs saying KEVIN LOVE SUCKS," says Stan, who endured a hail of one-finger salutes to snap photographs of the worst signs. "It was the grossest display of humanity I've ever been involved with. To think I'm sitting at the school where I played ball, and just because my kid didn't pick Oregon he gets abused like that? I'll never go back there."
That one incident unfortunately overshadowed a lot of really hatable things Oregon fans do, like making this song or getting to wear the coolest gear in college sports.
Have you ever talked to anyone from Florida and incorrectly assumed they were a Gator fan? Was the aftermath just brutal? Non-Gator fans who are Florida residents—whether they be transplants, guys all about the U, or FSU fans—loathe Florida supporters for reasons both very clear and somewhat vague. The clear reason: Gator basketball fans have taken a hint from Florida's professional sports team and gained a reputation of being fair-weather fans. These are the guys who were total diehards during those back-to-back championships and then got outdrew by Alabama last season. The somewhat vague reason: They are also losing their hair like Billy Donovan, and the connotation is terrifying.
Mainly on the list because they're more successful lately than anyone else, and thus more apt to be hated, Kentucky fans are a strange breed.
On the one hand, there are very few Wildcat supporters who you immediately hate when you first meet them. Even their main fan site (normally a place for the worst writing and whining on the Internet), Kentucky Sports Radio, is likable enough to non-UK guys. Unless you went to Louisville, conversation with a Wildcat is bound to be civil.
On the other hand... If you ever talk to a fan who perhaps has a few drinks in him, you'll notice something weird. He makes absolutely no apology about the crookedness of Calipari. He'll explain very matter-of-factly that yes, there's a chance every win we'll have will one day be forfeited. But, no, I'm not really concerned about it right now, because every year I get to watch the best fucking players in the country play. And he'll be right, which is annoying. Deals with the devil have never sounded so great. Screw you for your unblemished conscience. At least feel some confliction, Kentucky.
Plus, much like Syracuse, Kentucky fans travel in giant hordes, driving up ticket prices and turning your home stadium into an away arena. Damn your support of your favorite team!
5. UConn Women's Basketball
Ah, a curveball on the list!
Had to put UConn women's basketball on here—no fanbase has been more spoiled over the last 10 years, and no group has more casual fans who come out of the woodwork when it becomes clear that the Huskies are about to rip off one of those 39-0 seasons. Does this apply to every UConn women's fan? Of course not. But for those of you who like to latch onto a winning team, and then don't even pretend to care about women's basketball during UConn's off-years? You suck.
4. West Virginia
Drunk fans can be very funny. Who hasn't enjoyed the antics of a beer-bellied man falling face-first into a stadium trough, or a shitfaced college kid heckling obscure bench players during a blowout?
West Virginia, though, takes this to another level. Perhaps due to that rumor that Morgantown is responsible for 1% of all alcohol sales in the country (and if you've been anywhere near the city, trust me, you've heard it), Mountaineer fans get aggressively drunk and terrorize the living piss out of anyone who makes the trip to WVU Coliseum. It's not uncommon for the PA announcer to be forced to announce over the intercom that foreign objects should be refrained from being thrown on the court. Fights in the stands and outside the stadium are routine.
(All that said, Bob Huggins' sweatsuit rules, and, if I may switch sports, the football team's "Country Road" tradition really fucking rules.)
Many, many people who didn't go to UNC like UNC. This stems from national distaste for Duke, Carolina's status as Michael Jordan's school, and the fact that they've put together some really fun teams to watch in recent years. Roy Williams, I think, will knowingly lose games before dropping his fast-paced run-and-gun offense, and coach sabotage is always entertaining.
Here's why their fanbase is hatable:
A large portion of people's hate for Duke comes from its elitism. This is fair. The dirty secret, though, is that UNC is at least as superficially elitist as Duke. Watch a game sometime at the Dean Dome. The lower levels are almost completely occupied with well-heeled donors, older types who sit during the entire game while always wearing light blue argyle sweaters. As Sam Cassell famously said, "It's not a Duke kind of crowd. It’s more like a cheese-and-wine crowd, kind of laid back." He was referring to these old people who are wasting seats that should be reserved for students.
Another reason to hate UNC fans: The Dean worship has grown to ridiculous levels. It's got to stop. Like Wooden, he was a legendary coach, but if you went to school there after he retired, and you still refer to him as "Coach Smith," you're a colossal douchebag. Go to a game at the Dean Dome, though, and you'll experience something not unlike going to the Vatican.
One more thing: You want to talk bandwagon jumpers? This is the New York Yankees of the college sports world. After UNC wins another championship, walk around Duluth, Minnesota for 20 minutes and you'll see a light blue Tarheel sweater. 80% of their fanbase will never set foot in Chapel Hill.
Look, I went to Duke, and I totally get it. I get the perceived elitism, and I get the widespread feeling that Duke's fans are not as creative and intense as the media gives them credit for. Neither point is wrong.
- N.C. State was greeted last year with signs that said Duke=Culture, N.C. State=Agriculture.
- The students constantly chant "Safety School" at, like, UPenn.
- I've seen "Can you read this?" signs directed at oafish looking centers. It's all more than a little douchey.
- The cheer sheets are real, and they are abhorrent.
- The crowd for early season games and the UNC game is predominately composed of freshmen (the only people who will camp out for a month in a fucking tent). Many couldn't pick Christian Laettner out of a lineup.
- Most ACC schools aren't intimidated by the student section. And yet, Dick Vitale continues to say this, creating resentment from fans who may actually be louder.
I'm still a massive fan, but I have no defense. No. 2 is an appropriate ranking.
(Editor's Note: Worth mentioning that everyone on the staff, save for Andy, wanted Duke to go number one on this list. Fuckin' fanboy.)
Okay, Maryland. You're really, really passionate about the Terrapins. But when your immediate reaction to a big win (or loss) is to turn College Park into a scene out of Syria, it might be time to go through a little self-evaluation. Here's a quick reminder in case you guys blacked out over the last decade:
2010 (those are mounted police officers with pepper spray):
2006 (over a women's basketball game): Via The Washington Post:
The mood on the streets was an odd mix of ironic self-awareness -- a "look at us, we're rioting" attitude -- combined with brief moments of real fear and danger. With the smell of smoke in the night air from small street fires, officers in riot gear marched in formation and blasted pepper spray toward the throng of students. The fans would turn and run en masse, then stop and inch back toward police. At one point, more than a dozen were sprawled in the middle of Knox Road as if they were ready to put their lives on the line.
"We want horses! We want horses!" fans taunted the cops, making reference to earlier celebrations -- for the men -- when mounted police quelled the crowd.
"We're being stupid. We're laughing at ourselves," said sophomore Ben Schneider.
2002 (that's blood at the :37 mark):
2001 (over a loss): Via The Washington Post:
 first College Park riot for many students, but not the most destructive one in the university's history. In 2001, after the Terrapin basketball team lost a Final Four match-up against Duke, students burned couches and tore Ludwig Field's soccer goals from the ground, carried them to Fraternity Row and lit them ablaze.
Plus, there are non-riot related things. There's the almost incredible amount of abuse opposing fans receive, including debris hurled at the mothers of players. There's Virginia Tech guard Malcolm Delaney's remarkably candid quote, "They might have the worst fans ever. Duke is loud because the gym is so small, but Maryland might have the worst fans." And there are the chants directed at J.J. Redick, although I suspect 99.9% of the people reading this will find that understandable.
It's kind of a shame. I like every Maryland fan I've met. Scott Van Pelt even sometimes sits courtside, and he seems like a pretty cool guy. Unfortunately, though, there's a lot of history justifying this No. 1 spot. NOW BRING ME YOUR HATEMAIL.