No one should be rooting for Duke in NCAA Tournament

“Anybody but Duke” is fine with me

So the chaff has been sliced away from the wheat, and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament field is now a Sweet 16.

The committee obviously did its job. Who could argue with each of the top 12 teams moving on, a rare occurrence, and only 12th-seeded Oregon, and the SEC champ Auburn, a fifth seed, spoiling what could have been perfection?

The quandary now remains. Who is the team to root for over the next two weekends?

I can tell you now, beyond a shadow of a doubt no matter how ferocious Zion Williamson is, it will not be Duke.

Seriously, I bounced in and out of the NCAA coverage over the first weekend, but the funniest moment in that stretch was not the first time I saw the “Charles Brocc-ley” commercial.

It was when I tuned into the Duke-UCF game and heard the words that were absolutely inevitable: “And Tacko Fall goes to the bench early with foul trouble.”

Seriously, a Duke team getting help from an intimidated officiating crew? Shocker.

Every time Duke steps on the floor, it’s 8-on-5.

Nope, can’t root for Coach K, not gonna do it.

By seeds, it’s time to eliminate the others.

Virginia would be an interesting angle. Ousted in the first 16 vs. 1 upset of all time last year, the Cavs come back to win it all?

Nah. Wahoo vindication lasts one week as Oregon wears the Cinderella slippers for one more round.

UNC? Usually I bleed Carolina Blue, you know the anti-Duke thing, but in this case, my team (major spoiler for the end of this column here) is standing in their way. Carolina is the second No. 1 seed to crumble.

Gonzaga? Maybe in 2001. But not now. Miserable Mark Few is way too cocky for a coach whose claim to fame is making one Final Four.

As for the No. 2s, Michigan is headed for the Final Four, and so is my second choice, Michigan State. I love me some Tom Izzo and it’s going to be a pleasure to watch him send coach Krzyzewski packing in the Elite 8.

The news will not be good for the SEC’s Kentucky and Tennessee, each No. 2 seeds, who will tumble immediately.

Purdue is much tougher than I had ever dreamed, and so is Houston.

The only difference? Houston is headed to the Final Four, and Purdue isn’t.

The reason? Auburn.

The Tigers will make the folks in football country pay attention on a dramatic two-week run to the national title.

Book it here. Why do I like Auburn so much?

Very simple. Coaching … Bruce Pearl. And guard play … Bryce Brown and Jared Harper.

At some point, those two are “hangry” after being named just second-team All-SEC. They play with swagger and attitude.

And that wins in March/April, as we saw in a rugged SEC tourney.

Buckle in, the Madness begins for real on Thursday night. The opening weekend was nice, a pretty solid appetizer. But the main course, the real main course (yes, better than the Final Four) gets plated up over the next four days.

Time to enjoy. And remember, ABD!

Yes, “Anybody but Duke.”

Hector Longo can be reached at594-1253 or