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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Worst Sports Fans in America - Ranking the Sweet 16: Most likely to win the title

Ranking the Sweet 16: Most likely to win the title
Rob Dauster www.msnbc.com

1. Kansas Jayhawks: The Jayhawks are arguably the most talented team in the country, which automatically puts them at the top of this list. Throw in an easy path to the Final Four — they get Richmond and then the winner of Florida State and VCU — and anything short of the national title game would probably be a disappointment for KU.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes: Kansas might be the most talented team in the country, but Ohio State is the best. And when they are clicking, no one can beat them. In other words, Ohio State at their best is better than any team in the country at their best. But the Buckeyes have a fairly tough draw. They very well may have to go through Kentucky, North Carolina, and the Duke-UConn winner to get to the title game, where they will be matched up with Kansas.

3. Duke Blue Devils: Duke is the toughest team to place in these rankings. With a healthy Kyrie Irving, the Blue Devils may very well be the best team in the country. Without a healthy Irving, they are still a contender, but they may not even be the favorite coming out of their region. They may be in trouble against Arizona, as the Plumlees will have their hands full with Derrick Williams.

4. Florida Gators: All that talk about Florida not deserving a two seed seems like so long ago. The Gators are playing as well as any team in the country right now. They are also in a region that has become wide open with Pitt’s loss to Butler.

5. North Carolina Tar Heels: UNC matches up well with Marquette, but should Ohio State beat Kentucky, UNC will have a touch time with the Buckeyes. No one on Carolina has the size inside to matchup with Jared Sullinger.

6. Kentucky Wildcats: I actually think that Kentucky has a better chance of beating Ohio State and getting out of the East than North Carolina does, but I have less faith in the Wildcats putting together four complete games than the Tar Heels.

7. UConn Huskies: UConn, like they have all season long, has ridden Kemba Walker to the Big East title and now to the Sweet 16. But Kemba can’t do it all. When the Huskies are getting production from Jeremy Lamb and Alex Oriakhi, they are dangerous. Those two have been inconsistent at times, however.

8. BYU Cougars: I doubt that I was the only one that thought the Cougars were dead in the water without Brandon Davies on the roster. Apparently not. They ran through Gonzaga and Wofford, with Jimmer averaging 33.0 ppg and 6.5 apg.

9. San Diego State Aztecs: The Aztecs have one of the best front courts left in the tournament, but anyone that saw their double overtime game against Temple will question whether or not this team can execute under pressure.

10. Wisconsin Badgers: Wisconsin beat Kansas State despite a 2-16 shooting performance from Jordan Taylor and 38 points from Jacob Pullen. That’s impressive. Wisconsin’s defense still isn’t.

11. Arizona Wildcats: Arizona has one of the best players left in the tournament in Derrick Williams. The question is whether or not Sean Miller’s club can consistently count on performances like they got from Solomon Hill and Jordin Mayes on Sunday.

12. Butler Bulldogs: Butler has an easy path and they have title game experience.

13. Florida State Seminoles: The saying is defense wins championships, right? The Seminoles have the best defense left in the tournament and found an offensive rhythm on Sunday.

14. VCU Rams: When VCU is shooting like they were against Purdue and Georgetown, they are difficult to beat.

15. Richmond Spiders: Richmond runs a system that is tough to prepare for and has one of the best 1-2 punches left in the tournament.

16. Marquette Golden Eagles: Marquette has the toughest path to a title of any team in the tournament. They have to beat UNC and either Ohio State or Kentucky just to make the Final Four.

The Worst Sports Fans in America
According to GQ

15. Los Angeles Lakers

Congratulations, Angelenos! You are the fairest of America's fair-weather fans! The Lakers unfaithful abandoned their team en masse when Magic retired in 1991, then reconfirmed their fickleness by sending local TV ratings plummeting 30 percent after Shaq departed in 2004. Meanwhile, in these championship days, the Staples Center is more bar scene than sports complex, where fans can't be bothered to clap—their hands are too busy texting. "The focus is sometimes not on the court," coach Phil Jackson has said. "It's on the people in the crowd." Which explains why eight box suites were recently combined into an offshoot of an abominable nightclub, the Hyde Lounge. After VIPs pass a clipboard gauntlet—at a sports stadium—they can eat $21 nachos at a crocodile-skin bar while waiting for the space to transform into a postbuzzer dance club. When it's time to leave, a valet will even bring around their bandwagon.

14. University of Oregon Basketball

With a firm dedication to taking taunts too far, the Oregon Duck faithful have a storied history of degeneracy that can be traced all the way back to the days when someone beaned legendary coach John Wooden with a half-eaten apple. But the crowning violation of the school's "Code of ConDUCKt" (their unforgivable pun, not ours) occurred in 2008, when former Oregon high school standout Kevin Love dared return home playing for rival UCLA. Ducks fans distributed Love's cell-phone number before the game and left him some 400 voice mails, featuring such witty messages as "If you guys win, we'll come to your house and kill your family." Once in the stadium, students proceeded to (a) hold up signs enumerating the ways Love was a homosexual, (b) throw food at his family in the stands, and (c) call his grandmother a whore until she cried. Way to get in the old lady's head, Oregon!

13. University of Wisconsin Football

Drunken Badgers have amassed such a glorious history of harassing visiting fans—there was that time they threw glass beer bottles at a 7-year-old—that UW became the nation's first school to install Breathalyzers at the gate. With their "Show and Blow" program (again: their name, not ours), the university requires breath checks of any student previously booted from a game for an alcohol violation. And fans aren't the only ones blowing. The entire 300-member marching band was suspended for one game in 2008 due to repeated incidents of alcohol abuse and—wait for it—sexualized hazing.

12. Dallas Cowboys

The swaggering diaspora of Dallas fans insufferably mouth off about the invincibility of "America's Team," as if they're rooting for our entire country and not a franchise that has won two playoff games in the past fifteen years. To set the record straight: The nickname came from a 1978 Cowboys highlight reel, not some edict from Uncle Sam. And they've sworn their allegiance to a front-running team that isn't even good enough to run up front anymore.

11. Montreal Canadiens

Forget the riots that erupted last May after the Canadiens made it to the Eastern Conference final; they were nothing compared with the hordes of looters who set fire to five police cars during the 2008 playoffs simply because Montreal advanced past the first round. Meanwhile, inside the Bell Centre, the only things people boo more frequently than the U.S. national anthem are their own players. In 2003, team veteran Patrice "Breeze-by" Brisebois was heckled almost every time he touched the puck; the jeering was so intense it likely induced a stress-related irregular heartbeat. How did then GM Bob Gainey feel about his bloodthirsty fan base? "I think they're a bunch of gutless bastards, to be honest," he said.

10. Louisiana State University Football

Opposing players and fans who visit Death Valley are considered, as LSU supporters will kindly remind them via drunken shouts to the face, "Tiger bait!" That's the kind of southern hospitality that arises from LSU's signature night games, which allow for a full day of tailgate-based drinking. The administration had to apologize in 2005 after the Tiger faithful so ferociously pelted Tennessee's team bus with beer bottles that they cracked windows. For a story on how hostile LSU tailgaters were to opposing fans, female staffers from the university's student newspaper roamed their school's notorious daylong drinkathon disguised in Alabama gear. "We were groped and squeezed by just about every guy we interviewed," they reported. "The women called us 'bitches' and the men called us 'cunts.' " Anything else? "The amount of times we were spit on also struck a nerve."

9. New York Yankees
Remember everything you hate about New York? If not, Yankees fans will be happy to remind you.

8. Duke University Basketball

Duke fans who complain that everyone hates them because they're too good are like cheerleaders who complain that everyone hates them because they're too pretty. Sorry, princess! Soaked with arrogance (and Dick Vitale tongue baths), the Dukies have hit NC State with the chant "If you can't go to college, go to State!" while UNC has gotten the blunter "We're smart! You're dumb!" This from the crowd who interminably claim to be the classiest in all of basketball. Here's what the most reviled fans in college sports don't understand: When everyone already resents you for being a perennial national champion, brainstorming new ways to make fun of people doesn't make you clever. It makes you a dick.

7. Penn State University Football

Behold: a group of fans so vile that the university had to adopt a resolution denouncing "negative cheering" all the way back in 2000. Loophole: They didn't tell the kids not to throw stuff! Thus students from the Princeton Review's 2010 top party school have pelted visiting players and band members with snowballs, mud balls, and bottles of urine. Lacking projectiles during the 2008 riots that followed a win over Ohio State, Penn fans uprooted small trees to hurl at police. And let's not forget the notorious 2007 incident in which a crowd of onlookers cheered as a student chased down two OSU fans and threw a full can of beer at their heads. Video of that assault was proudly posted on YouTube, tagged as "comedy."

6. Boston Red Sox

Winning the 2004 World Series was the worst thing to ever happen to Red Sox fans. Having been beaten into a state of lovable-loserdom by generations of championship futility, they now seem intent on living out some sort of horsehided cycle of domestic violence, inflicting upon us everything that for eighty-six years was inflicted upon them. It is a display of epic hypocrisy. All their whining about the Yankees' salary-driven Evil Empire? They now gloat while drubbing opponents with what is routinely the second-highest-paid roster in baseball. All that self-satisfaction about being a bunch of scruffy underdogs? They blindly maintained it while winning the 2007 World Series with a payroll almost $90 million higher than Colorado's. All these continuing claims to be an elite group of die-hard supporters? They have the biggest legion of bandwagon fans in the country, pushing past the Pinstripes as baseball's top-drawing road team in 2005, 2007, and 2008. These days, Red Sox fans are indistinguishable from Yankees fans—just with more grating accents.

5. University of Maryland Basketball

The Five Worst Terrapin Riots

5) February 12, 2005: An estimated 3,000 fans take to the streets after a regular-season win over Duke. Objects are thrown off roofs. Couches are burned in the streets. Police arrest at least fourteen.

4) March 3, 2010: A regular-season upset of Duke results in twenty-seven arrests. Video of the confrontations shows police severely beating an unarmed reveler. Probably the only guy who didn't deserve it.

3) April 1, 2002: To celebrate the team's national-championship win, students pick up metal barriers and use them as battering rams against police. Six patrol cars are damaged. A state trooper loses two teeth after being hit in the face with a wooden board.

2) March 31, 2001: Mourning a Final Four loss, despondent fans loot local homes in order to burn the stolen furniture. They melt a cable line that leaves 30,000 residents without TV service. Total damages? $500,000.

1) April 4, 2006: Students light street fires, throw bottles, and try to tip over a bus—after a win by their women's basketball team.

4. Oakland Raiders

Ever since John Madden collected the NFL's most vicious trouble cases into a Super Bowl–winning wrecking crew, the Silver and Black have attracted an unholy fan base of hell-raisers, gangbangers, and inveterate knife-lickers, all of whom firmly believe that skipping town for an away game is well worth the parole violation. (The Raiders' 1999 visit to San Diego resulted in so many midgame stadium fights that even the players on the field turned to watch.) Still, while Raider Nation has a sterling record of glorifying criminality, it must be noted that their long-standing tradition of attending home games dressed in ridiculously elaborate handcrafted costumes is fierce only insofar as that term is used on Project Runway.

3. West Virginia University Mountaineers

Yeah, sure, they've been condemned by the local mayor for shouting obscenities on national television broadcasts. And yes, given their history, it wasn't really surprising last season when Pitt's assistant basketball coach got pegged in the face with a metallic object (specifically, a quarter). But what really defines the West Virginia University faithful is their devotion to celebratory arson. The school led the nation in intentionally set street fires from 1997 to 2003, lighting up an unmatchable 1,120 blazes. That includes 120 in a single night to celebrate a football win over Virginia Tech in 2003 and sixty infernos set to celebrate advancing to the second round of the NCAA basketball tournament in 2005. When school is in session these days, the local fire department reports that it extinguishes as many as twelve Dumpster fires in a week. It's all in keeping with the school's (real) unofficial fan motto: Win or lose, we still booze!

2 and 1. Philadelphia Eagles and Philadelphia Phillies

Over the years, Philadelphia fans have booed Santa Claus as well as their own star players. They've even booed a guy who just helped the city win a friggin' World Series title—while he was getting his ring. Boooo! Admittedly, there are some things fans have cheered. Like Michael Irvin's career-ending neck injury and a fan being tased on the outfield grass. Things reached their nadir last season, when Citizens Bank Park played host to arguably the most heinous incident in the history of sports: A drunken fan intentionally vomited on an 11-year-old girl. The truth is this: All told, Philadelphia stadiums house the most monstrous collection of humanity outside of the federal penal system. "Some of these people would boo the crack in the Liberty Bell," baseball legend Pete Rose once said. More likely, these savages would have thrown the battery that cracked it.

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