Top 10 Most Hated College Basketball Teams Ever
10. Duke (2001-2002)
There are certain college hoops teams who hold infamous places in the sport’s history. Even if they didn’t do something overtly wrong, many fans can’t stand the memory of them. Here are our picks for the Top 10 Most Hated College Basketball Teams Ever.
Throughout the 2001-2002 season, fans across the country were dreading the prospect of a second straight national title for the ever-polarizing Blue Devils. With a core consisting of national POY Jason Williams (who many people thought was a punk), the faux-tough Carlos Boozer and token hated white Dookie Mike Dunleavy, it was a real possibility.
Imagine the nation’s collective delight then when the top overall seed in the 2002 NCAA Tournament fell to a lovably plucky Indiana squad in the Sweet Sixteen, 75-74 - a game in which Boozer was blocked by a player seven inches shorter than he was and Williams missed a potential game-tying free throw in the final seconds.
9. Indiana (1985-1986)
Those who never cared for Bobby Knight’s foul-mouthed treatments of players, officials and anybody else who drew his legendary ire were thrilled to see his third-seeded Hoosiers upset by Cleveland State, 83-79, in the opening round of the Big Dance - still one of the tourney’s biggest upsets to this day.
This team was especially marked as it was one season removed from Knight chucking a chair across the floor at Assembly Hall and led by sharp-shooting Steve Alford, who looked like he belonged on a 1990s Duke team.
Knight’s reputation only grew in size and scope when a book chronicling the season, A Season on the Brink, became a bestseller and introduced his volatility to non-basketball fans.
8. Florida (2006-2007)
The Gators’ fun-loving run to the 2006 NCAA title had an air of novelty to it, as did the antics of Joakim Noah and his equally confident (though not nearly as rambunctious) teammates. By the next season, that act started to wear thin on everyone but Florida fans.
Noah individually became one of the most hated players in college basketball history with all his chest-pounding, screaming and preening for the camera. But neither he nor the team got their comeuppance. After a late-season skid knocked them from the No. 1 ranking, the Gators’ march to to the Final Four had an air of inevitability to it. By the time the final whistle blew in Atlanta, they were cutting down the nets again.
7. Duke (2005-2006)
In recent memory, perhaps only Christian Laettner (more on him later) has been a more hated player than J.J. Redick. As a senior in 2005-2006, the cocky sharp-shooter was at the height of his game, averaging 26.8 PPG, capturing almost every season-ending national player of the year award, setting a new NCAA record for career 3-pointers and leading Duke to a No. 1 ranking at the end of the regular season.
The season came to a premature end for the Blue Devils, however, after an upstart LSU team upended them in the Sweet 16, holding Redick to 11 points on 3-of-18 shooting. Just as they did in 2002, Duke haters rejoiced at the upset - not to mention the end of Redick’s college career.
6. Georgetown (1995-1996)
Allen Iverson arrived on campus in 1994 after spending four months of his senior year of high school in prison for allegedly striking a woman in the head with a chair during a bowling alley brawl.
He had to live with that reputation throughout his two-year Hoyas career. Opposing fans waved bowling pins in the air and chanted “Jailbird.” One sign at Villanova read: “Iverson: The Next Jordan” – except Jordan was crossed out and replaced with “O.J.”
As a sophomore, AI was joined in the Georgetown backcourt by Victor Page, who was also arrested as a high school senior, for cocaine possession and several gun-related charges. As the Hoyas marched to the Elite Eight, opposing fans seethed the entire way.
5. Cincinnati (1999-2000)
Bob Huggins rebuilt the down-on-its-luck Bearcats into a mid-major power, but it came at a cost. During the 1990s, Cincinnati gained a reputation for a rough style of play and academic underachievement. Several players were arrested and convicted on criminal charges, leading the NCAA to place the program under probation in 1998.
The 1999-2000 team, led by bad boy and consensus POY Kenyon Martin, raced to a 28-2 regular season record and was a surefire Final Four contender. Alas, in the Bearcats’ opening Conference USA tournament game, Martin broke his leg in an upset loss to Saint Louis.
Cincy wound up falling in the second round of the NCAA tourney as fans concluded that “Crime doesn’t pay.”
4. Michigan (1992-1993)
Upon entering Michigan in the fall of 1991, the Fab Five recruiting class turned college hoops on its head, bringing a hip-hop style to the game that included nonstop trash talk, baggy shorts, shaved heads, black socks and black shoes.
Teenagers loved them. Diehard purists of the sport couldn’t stand them.
What infuriated those purists even more was that the Wolverines backed up that bravado during the 1992-1993 season, going 31-5 and advancing to a second straight national title game. Chris Webber’s infamous timeout in that game prevented UM from winning it all, and the Michigan basketball scandal erased their accomplishments from the record books.
3. Georgetown (1983-1984)
The notoriety of the Fab Five often obscures the fact that “Hoya Paranoia” less than 10 years before was just as polarizing for similar reasons.
Coach John Thompson transformed Georgetown into a physically fearsome and dominant national power, seemingly overnight. Patrick Ewing was the unquestioned star of those early and mid-1980s team, yet what many remember about the one that won it all in 1984 wasn’t Ewing but rather the scowling, physical presence of enforcer Michael Graham (among others).
Thompson and his team wouldn’t back down from anybody, a mentality that won them games and simultaneously made them universally disliked.
2. Duke (1991-1992)
There was something so insufferably haughty about the second of Mike Krzyzewski’s national title-winning teams.
If you were a college basketball fan in the early 1990s, you couldn’t avoid them. They were always on TV, and ESPN’s Dick Vitale was always fawning over them. It didn’t help that the majority of their star players were well-coiffed prepsters who could’ve been extras in School Ties.
The leader of that bunch: Christian Laettner, perhaps the most hated college basketball player ever. It seems unfair from a karmic standpoint that in the same game he stomped on the chest of Kentucky’s Aminu Timberlake, Laettner made a buzzer-beating shot to send Duke to the ’92 Final Four.
Is there no justice in the world?
1. UNLV (1990-1991)
Ironically, the Duke team from the year before their loathed 1991-1992 squad was widely celebrated for ending the repeat hopes of the only team we deemed even more hateable: The 1990-1991 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.
Jerry Tarkanian’s squad had blitzed the Blue Devils, 103-73, in the 1990 NCAA title game and were even more dominant and swaggering the following season. The preseason Sports Illustrated cover portraying Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon as mobsters tells you everything you need to know about the perception of the team and Tarkanian, a mafia-looking notorious cheat.
Like too may of the other teams on this list, there was unfortunately a huge racial undertone in the hatred toward the Runnin’ Rebels, as the Final Four game between this 34-0 squad and Duke was portrayed as “Good vs. Evil.”
When the final whistle blew in the Blue Devils’ 79-77 upset, it didn’t seem real at first. Goliath had fallen. And not a moment too soon for many fans.