Final Four Likability Index: Who should you root for in Indy?

Which Final Four team is most likable? Which is easiest to hate? Let Pat Forde break it down for you.
Which Final Four team is most likable? Which is easiest to hate? Let Pat Forde break it down for you.

First thought upon surveying the Final Four field: This is about as big-time as it gets.

Second thought: The Big Ten has never been and will never be more popular than Saturday night.

Michigan State takes on a Duke program people love to hate. Wisconsin takes on a Kentucky program people love to hate. While lovers of theater and storylines would revel in a Duke-Kentucky national title game next Monday, more people are likely to be rooting against the Evil Empires of college basketball.

Last Saturday in Syracuse, when Jerian Grant’s desperation shot missed everything and Kentucky hung on to beat Notre Dame, Faegan’s Cafe & Pub instantly deflated. Not a single celebratory voice was heard amid a crowd of a couple hundred. When Notre Dame is the more lovable entity, that tells you where a lot of people stand on Kentucky.

The Wildcats’ NBA assembly-line resurgence under John Calipari has allowed UK to shoulder in on the Most Despised Program Status that Duke has claimed for at least a decade. The Blue Devils were holier-than-thou and better-than-thou for long enough that it all became too much for a vast swath of the country, which turned on Mike Krzyzewski’s program with startling fervor.

John Calipari does not understand why fouls are called on Kentucky. (USAT)
John Calipari does not understand why fouls are called on Kentucky. (USAT)

Given the presence of both Duke and Kentucky in the same Final Four for the first time since 1978, and given the suddenly embraceable Badgers and Spartans arrayed against them, this seemed like a great time to dust off an old favorite, the Final Four Likability Index. Keeping score on who to cheer for:

If your team has zero McDonald’s All-Americans, add five points for overachieving.

If your team has one McDonald’s All-American, add three points for achieving.

If your team has eight or more McDonald’s All-Americans, deduct five points for hoarding.

Likability Index: Wisconsin 5, Michigan State 3, Duke -5, Kentucky -5.

If your team has a starting guard whose first name is a mashup of the first and last names of a famous singer, add five points.

If your team has a starting guard whose nickname is “Tum Tum,” add five points.

If your team has a starting guard with both the above name and nickname, add five points.

If your team has a starting guard with both those names and he is a “Jr.,” add five points.

If your team has a starting guard named Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr., and his mother’s first name is Monalisa, add five points.

Likability Index: Michigan State 28, Wisconsin 5, Duke -5, Kentucky -5.

If your team’s head coach plays the accordion, add five points.

If your team’s head coach played himself in an American Express commercial, deduct five points.

If your team’s head coach resembles the school mascot, in appearance and mentality, add five points.

If your team’s head coach resembles a mob boss, in appearance and mentality, deduct five points.

Likability Index: Michigan State 33, Wisconsin 10, Duke -10, Kentucky -10.

If your team’s best player is an endearing giant with a lively personality, add five points.

If your team’s two best players are endearing giants with lively personalities, add 10 points.

Likability Index: Michigan State 33, Wisconsin 15, Kentucky 0, Duke -5.

Mike Krzyzewski does not appreciate Pat Forde's insolence. (USAT)
Mike Krzyzewski does not appreciate Pat Forde's insolence. (USAT)

If your team’s endearing giant with the lively personality is so unpretentious and comfortably dorky that he appeared in-studio on “SportsCenter” wearing sweatpant knickers, add five points.

If your team’s endearing giant with a lively personality once dyed his hair day-glo yellow and has a dazzling wardrobe of thrift-shop shirts, add five points.

Likability Index: Michigan State 33, Wisconsin 20, Kentucky 5, Duke -5.

If your school’s most famous basketball alum comes to games in school colors, claps along with the fight song and actually knows the words, add five points.

If your school’s most famous basketball alum was the subject of a documentary that includes the word “Hate” in the title, deduct five points.

If your school’s most famous basketball alum was on campus for roughly nine months, deduct five points.

If nobody is sure who is your school’s most famous basketball alum but you’ve commandeered the NFL MVP as a groupie, add five points.

Likability Index: Michigan State 38, Wisconsin 25, Kentucky 0, Duke -10.

If ESPN broadcast your summer games in the Bahamas, your postgame news conferences are on ESPN and Shannon Spake is as much a sideline fixture as the assistant coaches, deduct five points for Worldwide Leader overexposure.

If your team has three alums in analyst positions at ESPN (none with hair), deduct four points for Worldwide Leader favoritism and one point for follicle impairment.

If your team only gets the TV massage-and-hot-towel treatment from the Big Ten Network, add three points for keeping it regionally real.

Likability Index: Michigan State 41, Wisconsin 28, Kentucky -5, Duke -15.

If your coach has been to the Final Four, add two points for each appearance.

Likability Index: Michigan State 55, Wisconsin 32, Duke 9, Kentucky 7.

If your coach has had any of those Final Four appearances vacated, deduct two points for each.

Likability Index: Michigan State 55, Wisconsin 32, Duke 9, Kentucky 3.

If your coach took on the job of coaching the U.S. Olympic basketball team and has led it to multiple gold medals, add five points.

Likability Index: Michigan State 55, Wisconsin 32, Duke 14, Kentucky 3.

If your coach turned the job of coaching the U.S. Olympic basketball team into a recruiting advantage, deduct three points.

Likability Index: Michigan State 55, Wisconsin 32, Duke 11, Kentucky 3.

If your coach who already has a litany of recruiting advantages complained about the recruiting advantage of coaching the Olympic team – and signed a star player after coaching him on the Dominican Republic national team – deduct three points for hypocrisy.

Likability Index: Michigan State 55, Wisconsin 32, Duke 11, Kentucky 0.

If winning national titles has become a smug expectation, deduct five points for arrogance.

If your school’s last national title predates the bombing of Pearl Harbor, add five points for freshness.

Likability Index: Michigan State 55, Wisconsin 37, Duke 6, Kentucky -5.

Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin's perpetual goober, likes net. (USAT)
Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin's perpetual goober, likes net. (USAT)

If your school has Ashley Judd as a big-game regular, add five points.

Likability Index: Michigan State 55, Wisconsin 37, Duke 6, Kentucky 0.

If your school has Worldwide Wes as a big-game regular, deduct five points.

Likability Index: Michigan State 55, Wisconsin 37, Duke 6, Kentucky -5.

If your school’s fans will flock to the Final Four in potentially unprecedented hordes, add five points.

If your school’s fans will represent in the stands and party in the streets of Indy, add three points.

If your school’s fans will watch from their beach homes in The Hamptons, deduct five points.

Likability Index: Michigan State 58, Wisconsin 40, Duke 1, Kentucky 0.

If your coach uses Midnight Madness as a vehicle for dressing up and making a fool of himself, add five points.

If your coach uses Midnight Madness to say, “We are college basketball,” deduct five points.

Likability Index: Michigan State 63, Wisconsin 40, Duke 1, Kentucky -5.

If your coach can crank dat Soulja Boy, add five points.

Likability Index: Michigan State 63, Wisconsin 45, Duke 1, Kentucky -5.

If one of your starting forwards flirts with the NCAA tournament stenographer and showcases an impressive vocabulary in the process, add five points.

Likability Index: Michigan State 63, Wisconsin 50, Duke 1, Kentucky -5.

If your team going undefeated and winning the national title would seriously annoy Bob Knight, add five points.

Likability Index: Michigan State 63, Wisconsin 50, Duke 1, Kentucky 0.


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