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For the legions of Duke-haters out there, it was not a good weekend at all.

The Blue Devils, the only no. 1 seed remaining in the NCAA Tournament, wore down Baylor, 78-71, yesterday at Reliant Stadium in Houston in front of a fired-up crowd of 47,492, essentially a home crowd for the Bears.

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So Duke makes it past the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004 and its coach, Mike Krzyzewski, gets ready for his 11th Final Four appearance -- and Duke-haters are left wailing and gnashing their teeth once again.

(I'm not a Duke hater, but I'll tell you what I do hate now: those stupid Southwest Airlines commercials where the baggage handlers run out on the tarmac with "Bags Fly Free" painted in red letters on their big, hairy guts.

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(How many times have we seen this commercial during the tournament: 20,000? And who's the advertising genius who decided a bunch of growling fat guys with body paint was a good way to sell airline tickets?)

No matter what you think of the Blue Devils, though, you had to admit it was a gutsy performance -- especially in that venue. And maybe the Duke wins says something positive about both the Atlantic Coast Conference and Maryland basketball, too.

After all, if you're an ACC fan, Duke reaching the Final Four indicates the league wasn't quite as down this season as critics liked to point out.

And if you're a Maryland fan, you have to feel better knowing your team shared the regular season title with a team that reached the Final Four -- and beat that team at Comcast Center a few weeks ago after losing miserably to it in mid-February in Durham.

Now don't you feel better, Duke-haters?

No, I didn't think so.

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