Ranking the Biggest Blunders of the 2013-14 College Basketball Season

Brian PedersenFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2014

Ranking the Biggest Blunders of the 2013-14 College Basketball Season

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    Marcus Smart's shoving of a fan in the crowd at Texas Tech is one of many huge blunders to have occurred during the 2013-14 college basketball season.
    Marcus Smart's shoving of a fan in the crowd at Texas Tech is one of many huge blunders to have occurred during the 2013-14 college basketball season.Bruce Waterfield/Associated Press

    As part of the pregame buildup before the Feb. 11 meeting between rivals Michigan and Ohio State in Columbus, a video shown at Value City Arena featured several lowlights from Michigan basketball history.

    This included the infamous Chris Webber timeout call late in the 1993 NCAA title gamea timeout that wasn't allowed because the Wolverines didn't have any. The blunder contributed to Michigan's loss to North Carolina.

    This trip down miscue memory lane got us thinking: Have there been any gaffes of that level during the current college basketball season?

    The simple answer is: No, if only because we're still in the regular season and it would be hard for something to compare with a championship-costing mistake.

    There have been a decent share of moments, though, that would make you channel your inner Homer Simpson and yell "D'oh!" and smack your head. You know, the kind of oopsy-daisies that wouldn't happen if those involved had more time to think and act, but in a game of split-second decisions are almost unavoidable.

    Here's our look at the biggest blunders so far in the 2013-14 season, ranked from least to most head-scratching.

6. Get Your Tyler Ennis Jersey!

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    Rich Barnes/Getty Images

    Tyler Ennis is having the kind of breakout freshman season that makes it seem very likely he'll be out of the college game and in the NBA this time next year.

    Ennis is averaging 11.8 points and 5.6 assists per game, with a stellar 3.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He's been unflappable all season and has quickly become the guy the Orange go to in clutch situations.

    Just ask Pittsburgh, which saw the 6'2" point guard take an inbounds pass with 4.4 seconds left, drive the court and drain a 35-foot game-winning shot as if it were a charity pickup game.

    NBADraft.net has Ennis listed at No. 13 on its big board for the 2014 draft, making it seem like a foregone conclusion he's going pro as soon as this season is over.

    That's apparently what the folks running Syracuse athletics' Twitter account thought when they encouraged people to buy Ennis jerseys from the school's website "while they're still available."

    The tweet, which violated all sorts of NCAA rules related to social media—not to mention shed further light on the hypocrisy of school's profiting from players' likenesses, without sharing any of those ill-gotten gains—was deleted within 20 minutes, but the damage was done.

    Syracuse is generally regarded as having one of the best journalism schools in the country, which makes such a media-related blunder that much more shocking.

5. The Chin-Up Technical That Wasn't

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    Ralph Freso/Getty Images

    Arizona State led rival Arizona 67-66 in the final seconds of double-overtime on Feb. 14 at home, but the visiting Wildcats had the ball. Guard T.J. McConnell dribbled into the lane and put up a floater that could have given Arizona the lead, only to see ASU center Jordan Bachynski record his eighth block of the night.

    Then the insanity began.

    The ball was picked up by ASU guard Jahii Carson, who raced down the court as the final five seconds ticked off. He jammed home a seemingly meaningless basket with under one second remaining, and despite no allowable reason to do so, hung on the rim after the dunk.

    And kept hanging. Then did a chin-up. And hung some more.

    Meanwhile, ASU's bench raced onto the court in celebration, following by hundreds of students and fans. Even though time remained on the clock.

    Chaos ensued for a while, but eventually the fans got off the court and officials went to review how much time to put on the clock for Arizona to try to attempt a last-second three to force a third overtime. The officials also quickly ruled that, because the clock had stopped after the made basket, there was no justification for issuing a technical foul.

    And why no technical for Carson's rim antics?

    Crickets.

    The Pac-12 Conference announced two days later, though, that officials erred in not calling the technical. It wouldn't have changed much, because even had Arizona made both free throws (by no means a given for the Wildcats this season) it would have still needed to drive the length of the court for a score with what ended up being 0.8 seconds left.

    What mattered, though, was how obvious the call was, and how it somehow didn't get called.

4. Jamie Dixon's Timeout Call

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    Nick Lisi/Associated Press

    Pittsburgh's Talib Zanna had just given the host Panthers a 56-55 lead with 4.4 seconds left on a pair of free throws. Syracuse would need to drive the length of the court in that short time span to try to win the game.

    Not impossible, but also not easy. It's the kind of situation where a team would like to have a timeout so it could spend some time drawing up a play with the coach, who in this case is the legendary Jim Boeheim.

    Syracuse didn't have any timeouts left, though. So Pitt coach Jamie Dixon threw the Orange a bone and called one himself.

    Seemingly so he could set his players up defensively to stop a potential game-winning shot, Dixon's move to call the timeout also allowed the Orange to get their bearings, and what resulted was an epic 35-foot buzzer-beating score by Ennis to keep Syracuse unbeaten.

    Who said old Big East rivals Pittsburgh and Syracuse didn't have love for each other?

3. Kentucky Doesn't Block Out

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    It's one of the most fundamental pieces of coaching basketball, something that every person with a whistle and a jumpsuit roaming the sideline barks until they have no voice left:

    BOX OUT!

    It's something that each of Kentucky's stable of blue-chip players have heard through years of high-level AAU, high school and now college ball, so much so it's probably echoing in their heads as they go to bed at night.

    Yet, when push came to shove—or in this case, when shot came to rim—the concept of boxing out was completely lost on the Wildcats.

    The situation reared its ugly head on Jan. 14 in Fayetteville, Ark., in overtime of a game between host Arkansas and Kentucky. With the game tied at 85, Arkansas drove down for a game-winning shot in the final 10 seconds.

    Rashad Madden attempted a three, but it clanged off the rim...and right into the hands of teammate Michael Qualls, who jammed it home with 0.2 seconds left.

    While the dunk itself was amazing, so was the complete lack of any effort by Kentucky's defenders to try to rebound the miss. They just stood around, as the video above will show, allowing Qualls to streak in untouched and flush the winner.

2. Branden Dawson's Film Session Overreaction

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    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    Michigan State's Branden Dawson wasn't very happy with the way he played in a Jan. 11 game against Indiana, and he really didn't like the way it looked when watching film of that contest two days later.

    How upset was he? So much so he felt the need to slam his right hand down in frustration...and break the hand he shoots with.

    The freak injury has shelved the junior forward ever since and added to the growing list of injuries that has plagued the Spartans this season.

1. Marcus Smart's Crowd Visit

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    Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart had already showed signs of how his emotions can get the better of him even before he did something that might keep his team out of the NCAA tournament.

    Smart, the Cowboys' extremely talented sophomore guard, kicked a chair on the bench in frustration during a Jan. 25 game in which he fouled out, an act that already had critics questioning his maturity.

    Then came the final moments of a tough loss at Texas Tech on Feb. 8 when, after falling into the crowd following a failed attempt to block a transition dunk, he didn't immediately step back onto the court. Instead, he turned his head toward a Texas Tech fan, then confronted the fan and shoved him.

    Smart ended up getting suspended three games by the Big 12 Conference, with the already struggling Cowboys losing all three to extend their losing streak to seven games and put a team that was ranked No. 6 in the first week of January firmly onto the NCAA tourney bubble.