After watching today's game in which No. 16 seed UNC Asheville lost a tightly contested game against the No. 1-seeded Syracuse, I was angry.
Normally when it's two teams I don't really care about I won't really become emotionally involved or invested in the outcome, but this game was, well, different. I usually am the last person to blame referees for influencing the outcomes of games.
However, with this game you'll have to bear with me briefly as I rant about what happened.
Asheville was blatantly affected by the officiating, and could have definitely pulled out the victory if it wasn't for the blown calls by the referees. They did an absolutely horrible job and should be nowhere near an NCAA tournament game for the rest of this season.
Imagine if this had been the national championship? You would never hear the end of it and ESPN would be running a round-the-clock smear campaign against the NCAA and their stupid rules regarding replay.
Let's start with the first blown call, one that WAS rectified by (limited) replay. Syracuse took a shot after the shot clock had expired near the end of the first half, but the officials ruled it was good, and recorded a foul. Luckily, this was nullified by instant replay and allowed Asheville to keep a four-point lead at the half.
Another blown call made by the officials here on a "lane violation" was even worse. The player's foot doesn't step in until the release, and on top of that the second attempt after the initial miss was made by Syracuse due to the official's call.
This allowed for a two-point swing late in the game and directly impacted the outcome. Had they been able to review it, the officials would have had to reverse the call.
And by the way, who calls a lane violation late in the second half of a national tournament game when the game is extremely close? There's a lot of things I'd like to call that ref, but I'll digress.
But the worst call of the game, and perhaps the most important, came late in the game at perhaps the most critical time. The title of the video describes it, it really was the worst call ever. I mean, how could you blow that? It hits right off of Syracuse! I read a report where a reporter tried to speak to the refs after the game, but he tripped over their seeing eye dogs.
The moral of the story is, that if instant replay were able to be used then all of these calls could've been properly reversed by the officiating crew. Instead, we're left to wonder what might've been, wonder if this No. 16 seed could've pulled off the upset of a lifetime. It's downright irresponsible for the NCAA to allow things like this to happen.
As I said earlier, what if this happened in the title game? The NCAA would've been absolutely, totally embarrassed and would immediately implement steps to add instant replay. Maybe that's what it will take to change the rules, but until then teams like UNC Asheville are just going to have to bear the brunt of what is a corrupt system.
The NCAA could avoid situations like this with a simple rule change allowing the broadening of their instant replay violations, and I hope they do. Syracuse should consider themselves lucky that they escaped. UNC Asheville played better and deserved the win, plain and simple.
It's a shame that this had to happen, especially under these circumstances when a monumental upset could have occurred.
But as they say, that's how the ball bounces,
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