I’m not one for conspiracy theories, especially when it comes to sports. The effort it would take to orchestrate a fix on an institutional level, combined with the cover-up afterwards to keep everybody quiet, would be monumental. All it takes is one person looking to cash in on a salacious story and the whole house of cards would come tumbling down. And for what? To advance one team one round in a tournament? You’re going to risk the integrity of your entire sport for that? It’s just not worth it.
BUT, I am one to point out a horribly blown call, especially when it prevents something potentially awesome from happening. Something, for example, like a 16-seed upsetting a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. That’s why I’ve helpfully screencapped this moment from yesterday’s Syracuse vs. UNC-Asheville game. With about 30 seconds left, and a 66-63 lead, Syracuse was inbounding the ball from under their own basket, and the ball clearly bounced off one of their player’s hands before going out of bounds. Despite this, they were awarded possession, and promptly locked the game up with free throws.
Now, you could certainly point out that there was a pretty obvious foul committed by the UNC-Asheville player on the play, but that is besides the point for our purposes. If the referee wasn’t going to call the foul, for whatever reason, then the play needed to be treated like the foul didn’t happen. The point is that, during a live play, the ball went out of bounds after touching a Syracuse player, and the referee blew the call. Saying “Yeah, but if the foul would have been called …” gets us nowhere because, to quote the lead singer of the band Crucial Taunt, if a frog had wings, it wouldn’t bump its ass when it hops.
The main reason I’m so upset about this is because it cost us something so potentially cool. A 16-seed has never upset a 1-seed, and it was *thisclose* to happening yesterday. There’s no guarantee that UNC-Asheville would have hit a tying three, or even cut the lead to one with a quick basket, but it would have been a blast to watch them try. Hell, maybe they would have just thrown the ball right to Syracuse, tripped over their shoelaces in unison, and flubbed the game away anyway, but at least then they would have done it on their own. It’s tough enough for David to take out Goliath as it is. Goliath doesn’t need a crowbar.
NOTE: There was also a lane violation call on UNC-Asheville at the end of the game that appeared to be questionable, but, as explained by the studio hosts and the NCAA’s director of officiating, it was the correct call.
via USA Today