The Popcorn Stand: Loving some South Carolina

I love the state of South Carolina. First, Clemson knocks off college football’s version of the Evil Empire, Alabama.

Then on Sunday, South Carolina knocks off college basketball’s version of the Evil Empire, Duke. I will give the same message to South Carolina that I gave to Clemson: Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

So South Carolina again allows me to realize Schadenfreude, which is German for feeling the joy in the misery of others. That’s one of the things we love most about sports is seeing the teams we love to root against being knocked off their pedestal.

It was glorious watching Duke being bullied like a little kid by a much more physical South Carolina team. It was glorious watching the bully get bullied. It was glorious hearing Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski talk about how his team was like a bunch of little kids getting bullied.

It was glorious watching the No. 2 seed Duke fail to make the regional semifinals after all the ESPN so-called high muckety-muck experts kept whining about how Duke deserved a No. 1 seed. (There, my cheap shot at ESPN, which by the way doesn’t get to show one game of March Madness).

And it’s glorious ESPN’s sainted conference, the ACC, has only one — out of nine teams — to advance to the Sweet 16 — North Carolina. The Pac-12, meanwhile, which is supposed to pale in comparison to the ACC, advanced three teams to the Sweet 16 — Arizona, Oregon and UCLA.

I do have to give ESPN credit for its 30 for 30 presentation of “I Hate Christian Laettner,” who represents the perceived privilege of Duke we love to hate so much. Even players like Josh Reddick and Grayson Allen who followed Laettner to Duke haven’t come close to his level as Laettner still is the most hated player in college basketball 25 years after he last suited up for the Blue Devils.

Although I do have to admit watching Allen clank jump shot after jump shot on Sunday was glorious.

And it’s going to be glorious watching the rest of the NCAA Tournament — without Allen and Duke.

— Charles Whisnand


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