Tag Archives: march madness

Flawed officiating must be fixed on the biggest stage

By J.D. McKay

On Saturday night, Virginia and 2016 Indiana Mr. Basketball Kyle Guy beat this year’s Cinderella, Auburn. Guy sank three straight free throws after a foul with 1.5 seconds left. For some weird reason, I was feeling like a particularly passionate Auburn fan, so I was shocked by the outcome.

After I pulled myself together, CBS officiating analyst Gene Steratore said that the officials missed a double dribble on Virginia that would have given Auburn the ball with about 2.5 seconds left, up two. It is worth mentioning that both my dad and I noticed this missed call live. Had the double dribble been called, the Tigers would have inbounded a pass and been fouled, forcing a one-and-one. Now, Auburn may have missed the first, and Virginia may have hit the half-court buzzer beater to go to the National Championship, but they also might not have. Auburn also may have hit both going up four with about 1.5 seconds left, sending them to the National Championship.

So minutes after the Final Four game I wrote down my thoughts, and I realized, this is not the first of the Major Six (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball) championships to have a tainted pair of teams.

The Super Bowl featured the Rams, who probably should not have been in. After the two-minute warning, the Saints had a chance to score a touchdown that probably would have sent them to the Super Bowl. But after a missed pass interference call, the Saints kicked a field goal with enough time left for the Rams to kick a field goal of their own and send the game to OT, eventually winning. Once again, the outcome could have been the same had the Saints missed the field goal, still forcing overtime and eventually a loss, but we will never know because the call was missed.

There are missed calls in every game, so any call could have been missed and the outcome of the game been changed, but these are memorable because they are on the biggest stages at the biggest moments. It does not help the officials, either, that these missed calls can be replayed in super slow-mo.

There is not one easy fix to this problem. Humans will always make errors, but we have developed better technology, so why not use that to fix our errors? As I said above, these games are played in super slow-mo for fans, so why not have a group of officials either at the game or in a neutral place like New York? They could call in any missed call that is objectively wrong, like for instance, a double dribble. However, if that was instituted for the whole game, they might never end. To resolve this, the “New York Official” would only make calls within the last two minutes.

The NCAA could also resolve it the way the NFL did: challenges. However, this slows the game down significantly and would be weird for basketball. They would have to wait until after the play ended then asked the officials to look at the play. They could either have two for the whole game or just one at the end of each half.

Officiating may not be getting worse. It may be the same quality as always; however, with high def replays, we can always see when they are wrong. This technology cannot just be ignored for the improvement of the game. Several years ago, the MLB allowed for coaches’ challenges. This league that seemed like it would forever be stuck in the past came forward and made use of technology. That made some baseball fans mad, but all together was better for the game. Basketball and football have developed some strategies to make use of the technology and improve the game.

However, it seems to me that some small things can be done to get the correct calls, not lengthen the games, and, in the playoffs, give fans and players the champions as they probably should be.

 

Previewing March Madness

By J.D. McKay

We are finally into possibly the most exciting and wildest time of the year: March Madness. I will be previewing the tournament and giving you the answers to fill out the first perfect bracket ever

East: The East has the most hyped one-seed in the tournament in Duke. Led by Zion Williamson, who can only be described as a freak athlete, they have been one of the most interesting teams to watch this year. However, when their outside shots are not falling, they are very beatable. With that being said, I do not think we are going to see the first overall seed fall in the first round for the second year in a row. But I would not be surprised if they lost to the four-seed Virginia Tech in the Sweet 16 or the two- seed Michigan State in the Elite 8. In the South bracket I expect Michigan State, who is hot, to go to the Final Four.

West: The West seems to me to be the easiest bracket. The one-seed and two-seed are both good, but Gonzaga and Michigan finished the season with a loss in their conference championships. With that being said, there is not really any other team that separates themselves from the other 14 teams. Murray State has the most hyped non-Power Six player in Ja Morant. FSU is decent but not very consistent. But, I’m picking the Zags to get rolling and play Michigan State in the Final Four.

South: I get a sense of deja vu from this bracket, seeing Virginia, who lost to the 16-seed for the first time last year. I expect they do, too, and will come out prepared to beat the 16-seed Gardner-Webb University and play deep into the tournament. They also have Tennessee in their bracket, who has been solid this whole year. They lost to Kentucky once but have since beat them in their conference tournament. They have a lot of momentum and I expect them to ride that into the Final Four after beating Virginia in the Elite 8.

Midwest: This bracket has three of the most historic college basketball teams, Kansas, Kentucky, and North Carolina. I expect all three of these teams to make it to the Round of 32, but then I expect Kansas to fall to Auburn, who just beat Tennessee in the SEC Conference Championship and LSU earlier in the SEC Tournament. However, I expect North Carolina to beat UK in the Elite 8, in a rematch from the 2017 Elite 8. I distinctly remember that game because I watched in on ESPN in Guatemala with Spanish-speaking commentators. Plus, there was a huge shot made by then sophomore Luke Maye, who now leads the Tar Heels. I again expect UNC to beat UK and play Tennessee in the Final Four.

Potential Cinderella team: I do not expect any repeats of the Loyola Chicago run to the Final Four saw last year, but there are some teams that could bust some brackets this March. First off is Syracuse. The Orange are always good. They have one of the best head coaches in the country: Jim Boeheim. They are an eight-seed and could cause some problems. Another Cinderella team is Murray State. As I said above, they have Ja Morant, who is insanely athletic. He could prove to be problematic for some teams. The one other team I could see being a Cinderella team is St. Mary’s. They are coming off a conference championship against Gonzaga, where they upset the Zags.

Final Four: I picked Michigan State to play the Zags and Tennessee to play North Carolina, both of which are one vs two matchups. Michigan State will probably beat Gonzaga because they are very hot right now and are willing to be scrappy when needed as seen against Michigan in the Big Ten Championship game. North Carolina will beat Tennessee because they are experienced. In the championship game they will beat Michigan State. Two years ago, they were National Champions. Some of those players have gone pro or graduated, but other, like Maye have stuck around. Again, experience will be the factor that helps them bring the title to North Carolina.

While I was listening to this I listened to various versions of “One Shining Moment” on Youtube. It is fun to watch the best moments from the tournament on these videos, but more fun to watch the history and upsets live. Do not miss your chance to watch something you will one day tell your grandkids you saw live.

Four things to do or watch over Spring Break

By J.D. McKay

Typically I write my last or second-to-last column before break about five things to do or watch over the upcoming break. However, besides for March Madness, there just are not very many interesting upcoming events. Hopefully we sports fans will be able to survive the pre-March Madness lull and get into the tournament and then baseball season immediately after.

1- MLB Opening Day

There are a variety of options that sports fan can use to enjoy the March 28, the first day of the MLB season. The Cincinnati Reds are in town and play the Pirates. That will be the Reds’ first chance to show off their new toy, Yasiel Puig, in a meaningful game. It should also be a win because the Reds always win the first game of the season. A cheaper option is just to stay at home and watch the games on TV. Yankees fans such as myself will get to watch the pinstripes play the Orioles on ESPN. The Dodger play following the Yankees game and the Red Sox play following the Dodger game.

2- Sweet 16 and Elite 8 at KFC Yum Center

Usually, when I suggest sports events to go to, I try to suggest cheaper options to make games more affordable for my fellow broke students. For this, however, I do not really have an idea on price of tickets. Currently, the three game package is $250 dollars on Ticketmaster. After watching these games for several years and seeing low attendance because the teams are not playing close to home, I have wanted to go and expected them to be cheap. This year I am planning on going and unless U of L, UK, Duke, Purdue, or IU plays at the KFC Yum Center, I expect tickets will be affordable. Hopefully, a Cinderella team will make their way through the South Regional to add some excitement to the games.

3- Watch March Madness

If I really have to tell you this, you should start paying more attention to sports. It is the time of year when average basketball fans like myself pay lots of attention to games that I would not normally care about at all. It creates fans for the lower-seeded teams. Often, this fandom only lasts until the end of the game, but some Cinderella stories keep those fans deep into the tournament. Ultimately, the three-week period probably has the highest concentration of buzzer beaters and upsets of any time during the basketball season.

4- Fill out a bracket

The next part of this is potentially more fun, filling out a bracket. This might not sound fun to non-sports fans but will actually be worth your time. If you are an expert college basketball watcher, feel free to make educated guesses each game and have a terrible bracket. But if you are an ill-educated basketball fan, you can make some predictions based on other things. These uneducated brackets are often some of the best brackets. For example, one classic bracket idea is, if these teams mascots were to fight, who would win? Or, you could just pick the winning teams based on best mascot or best color scheme. Any bracket strategy is only crazy if it does not work.

Column: March Madness begins today

By JD McKay and Adam Hynes

After an eternity of NBA garbage and no football, we have finally made it to one of the best and most exciting months of sports. March. When any true sports fan hears that magical word, they think of madness and picture a bracket filled with Cinderella stories, basketball powerhouses like Duke or Kansas and on April 2, a champion.

This basketball season has been ridiculous. There were zero teams with an undefeated record in 2017, and two teams ranked in the Top 10 half way through the season, and both ended as bubble teams. So, we will do our best to describe to you how to fill out the perfect NCAA tournament bracket. We will predict the Final Four and National Championship, as well as one team we expect to advance deep into March that is worse than a six seed.

JD: In the South Bracket [top left], I’m picking Virginia. Picking against the number one overall seed is not easy, especially when they can play from behind and in close game. Ask any U of L fan. Plus, their defense is remarkable, holding teams to 53 points per game is incredible, especially in a conference that produced nine tournament teams.

Adam: I have Virginia coming out of the South, beating out Arizona in the Elite Eight. With Tony Bennett’s suffocating defense, I do not think there is a team in their section of the bracket who can beat out the Cavaliers.

JD: In the West [bottom left], I like Michigan. The reason, one word: momentum.

Adam: In the West, I think Michigan will make it through to the Final Four. They will beat out North Carolina in a thriller in the Sweet Sixteen and easily beat Ohio State to reach their eighth Final Four appearance.

JD: In the East [top right], I see Purdue advancing to the Final Four. Mainly because the East is pathetic. Aside from Villanova, there are no really teams I see in the Final Four.

Adam: In the East, Villanova will have an easy run to the Final Four, with their only real challenge being two-seed Purdue. There is not much talent in the East region, unless West Virginia is able to make some noise against Villanova in the Sweet Sixteen.

JD: The Midwest [bottom right], is by far the toughest bracket, but Michigan State could come out of that bracket and push to the Final Four. They performed well to start the season, but have died down since then. Maybe the break they got from losing the Big Ten Tournament early will get them back to how they played earlier this season.

Adam: The Midwest will be a tough call. With underrated Michigan State, top-seeded Kansas, and a hot duo in Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley at Duke, it is hard to predict who will make it out. I have Duke beating out Kansas to go to the Final Four, as long as they keep playing at the level they are.

JD: The Cinderella team I like is Missouri. They have one of the best players in the country in Michael Porter, Jr., but he was out the whole season until the SEC tournament, where you could see the lack of team chemistry. The week they will have between the SEC tournament and NCAA tournament should develop that chemistry and propel them deep into March.

Adam: My Cinderella team is nine seed Florida State. The Seminoles have stayed consistent all season, and got a win over North Carolina earlier in the season. They have no bad losses, and will end up making a run past Xavier to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to Ohio State.

JD: My Final Four consists of three Big Ten teams and Virginia. The National Championship will see Purdue playing Michigan, but once again I like the Wolverines over the Boilermakers, because of momentum.

Adam: Virginia will beat Michigan in the Final Four in a blowout, and stop the Wolverines from going to the championship game. Duke will beat Villanova in overtime and advance. The championship game will be close, but the Marvin Bagley factor will come into play, with Virginia not having any real big guys down low. Duke wins 62-56.

 

Fans weigh in on U of L and IU’s basketball seasons

By Michael Pepin

With the Big East and Big Ten conference tournaments next week, many people are beginning to formulate their own predictions and opinions of how this month of madness will turn out.

“There are six teams in the Top 25 right now [in the Big East], more than any other conference, just beating the Big Ten, which has five.  I think that while U of L is vulnerable at any given time, they have what it takes to make win the Big East Conference,” said biology teacher  Kirk Moldenhauer, who believes that U of L will also win the NCAA Basketball tournament, barely triumphing over IU.

However others have different predictions about the two local teams.

“I think that U of L will make it to the finals in the Big East Conference and then lose to Georgetown, since their team is really good this year.  IU will only make it to the Elite Eight, if not just the Sweet 16,” said sophomore Harrison Rice.

Many agreed that the teams this year are very talented, though flawed.

“If (point guard Peyton) Siva doesn’t play well, the rest of the team doesn’t play well.  Sometimes he rushes the shots, and that costs the team points.  However the team this year is easily capable of making it to the finals,” said Rice.

The opinion remains generally the same even with fans of different teams.

“IU has the best team in college basketball, but sometimes when we turn it over, we don’t get as many possessions as we should.  Yet, even with that there is no doubt that the team will make it to the final four.  We are still ranked number 2 in the country,” said freshman Landon Receveur.

However, triumphing over the other teams in the NCAA basketball tournament requires more than a prestigious name or a good team and skillful players.

“Anybody can beat anybody these days; 15 years ago there were only a few good teams that stood a chance of winning.  In order to win the NCAA, even the best teams need a lot of luck,” said Moldenhauer.