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Poor officiating puts a black-eye on a thrilling, memorable Final Four

Apr 9, 2013, 2:03 PM EDT

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ATLANTA — This year’s Final Four was as good of a Final Four as you will ever see.

All three games were thrilling, capped off by one of the most entertaining basketball games that I’ve watched in a long, long time. And frankly, it was a perfect way to end this season, one that reinvigorated many-a-jaded college hoops fans with great games, better finishes and a year where it seemed physically impossible to dislike the best players in the country.

The tournament needed this kind of a finish. After what was an overwhelmingly boring tournament — outside of Dunk City, of course — we closed it unforgettable fashion. I mean, seriously, Spike Albrecht scoring 17 points in a half, only to be outdone when Luke Hancock hit four threes in the span of two minutes? What in the freakin’ world?

The problem that will be overshadowed, however, is that breathtaking hoops wasn’t the only season-long trend that continued into the Final Four. Horrific officiating, particularly in the biggest moments of the game, managed to weasel it’s way into the Georgia Dome.

It started with the mythical jump ball that Hancock was somehow able to earn in the final seconds against Wichita State when it looked like Ron Baker had gained control and given the Shockers a chance to tie on the last possession. It continued later that night, as Jordan Morgan was given credit for taking a charge that was dangerously close to being a block.

And then on Monday night, it was the worst call of them all.

On arguably the best defensive play of the season, Trey Burke was called for a foul as he went up to block Peyton Siva’s breakaway dunk attempt.

Burke got it clean. Check it out for yourself:


That’s a block.

It was called a foul.

And the swing in momentum more-or-less ended any chance Michigan had to come back, because Peyton Siva hit both free throws to put Louisville up 71-64, a lead that they eventually extended to 76-66.

Now, Michigan may not have come back. They may not have won the game anyway. But they certainly didn’t have any favors done for them with yet another missed call.

It was a problem that we ran into far too often this season. It was a problem that showcased itself on the biggest stage in college hoops.

Can we please do something to fix this?

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. savoirlaire - Apr 9, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Crappy calls on both sides, certainly this one was questionable but, by way of example, so too was the no call at the end of the first half when Russ Smith got clubbed in the side of the head and neck driving the lane (by McGarry I think), or the two obvious over the backs on Horford.

    I think because there were bad calls on both sides, nothing to see here, move on, as usual. Let’s hope this is not some pretext for claiming that Louisville was not the better team…

    • skids003 - Apr 9, 2013 at 3:54 PM

      I agree. I bet Rob Dauster couldn’t referee a checker match. These so called “sportswriters” sure have 20/20 hindsight, don’t they? Give Rob a whistle and see how good he is.

    • llfreedman - Apr 9, 2013 at 7:30 PM

      Louisville plays extremely physical- borderline dirty. The way the Lousville guards were riding Burke and company up the court in the press was a bit much. Many more fouls could and should have been called on Louisville. Savoirlaire is wrong. Also, crucial missed calls- the 4th foul on Hancock missed, the block obviously, and the 2nd foul on burke. To be fair-Behanan probably could have gotten another call or two.

      But overall, the fouls against Michigan were complete momentum shifters and no doubt changed the fabric of the game unfairly for Louisville.

      • savoirlaire - Apr 9, 2013 at 11:08 PM

        Oh really? To be fair, you’re a whiny moron who has obviously never watched a Big East, let alone Louisville, game this year.. Like I said, both teams had crappy calls against them, take your sour grapes, blame the refs ten year old bs back to your Cub Scout pack. Oh, but the calls against Michigan were momentum shifters! Yeah, we’ve heard that crap before…your team got beat by a better team.

      • tkellen - Apr 9, 2013 at 11:15 PM

        If you cant play with the big boys, you dont deserve to be in the big dance. Many more fouls could and should have been called on Michigan also. Louisville didnt cry about fouls when they were down. They just kept to the job at hand.The sign of a great team. Savoirlaire is not wrong. His opinion and he is entitled. Try taking the mule blinders off and watching the whole game. Dont just hang on everything that doesnt go your way.

        You people listen to the announcers too much. These guys cant play, cant coach, and cant referee. Yes, that qualifies them to tell you what is what. The foul was never on Hancock. Only in the qualified announcers eyes. Move the replay a second earlier. Maybe the other player reached in and that is what the official called. We will never know. Again, officials do not lose games. Had UL lost, I could have picked 30 easy mistakes the players made that caused it. None of which had to do with referees. Game Over. Maybe you will get to referee the next one since you are so good at it.

      • kingghidora - Apr 10, 2013 at 8:26 AM

        You people are so blind it’s amazing. This wasn’t the only horrible call that went against Michigan. It happened time after time. I’m no fan of either team. I just know what I saw. It may reflect some light on this situation that SEC coordinator of officals, Gerald Boudreaux, was fired today. How many SEC officials were assigned to that game anyway? Too many.

      • llfreedman - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:26 PM

        @savoirlaire- Nice character attacks- very effective argument! I have absolutely no sour grapes because I had nothing invested in this game. I’m just an avid basketball fan who watches a lot of basketball and knows what a foul is.

        Yes there were bad calls for both sides- but that doesn’t mean the fouls were even…Go and watch the game tape again…While I agree with some other posters that the announcers don’t always provide good analysis, there is still a reason that the great consensus on this game is how poor the officiating is…

        I do not care about Michigan…I don’t have anything against Louisville either. Louisville just played super physical to the point where they are fouling and getting away with a lot of it. They won in the end so that’s all that matters- its just funny you assume I’m biased because I said something negative against Louisville.

    • bigmeechy74 - Apr 10, 2013 at 1:37 AM

      Wow you are pathetic. Have some objectivity. If my favorite team won I would say “wow we got some breaks with some awful calls but I’ll take it.” But instead you go on the attack. If it were the other way around and louisville lost because of that awful “double foul” call and jump ball against WSU or if siva would’ve blocked burke and they called a foul you would be SCREAMING “WE WUZ ROBBED!!!!” Hahaha this just goes to show that most fans are SUCH LOSERS. You should be happy but instead you are still a bitter troll LMAO

      • savoirlaire - Apr 10, 2013 at 9:32 AM

        No, objectivity means “both teams got some crappy calls against them, so let’s not blame the refereeing”…what you said above pre-supposes that Michigan got screwed by the refs and not nearly everyone sees it that way. Seems to me my original comment, which was the first on this thread, pretty much said “both teams got crappy calls so don’t blame the refs”. So what is bitter or trollish about that? Versus, say, the bonehead UM fans like you who can’t wait to blame their teams abject loss on the refs. Talk about pathetic, look in the mirror, you ass clown…

      • bigmeechy74 - Apr 10, 2013 at 10:04 PM

        I don’t give a crap about Michigan. I care about what’s right though.

      • llfreedman - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:28 PM

        bigmeechy74 summed it up well.

      • bigmeechy74 - Apr 12, 2013 at 8:06 PM


  2. zoellner25 - Apr 9, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    sure the Burke block was clean, but Michigan was in the bonus in the 2nd half Monday night for what seemed like an hour, and Louisville didn’t get to the bonus until the last minute of the game. Huge discrepancy in foul calls in favor of Michigan last night. UL had alot of reach in fouls trying to make steals, but they got no calls. Pitino should be pissed at that.

    • jaerba - Apr 9, 2013 at 6:41 PM

      Michigan is 314th in number fouls committed. Louisville is 4th is number of fouls committed.

      That’s why there’s a discrepancy. Don’t pretend like the two teams were equally aggressive in reach ins and grabbing.

  3. packhawk04 - Apr 9, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Im a michigan fan, lets get that out of the way. The foul on burke was laughable, at best. But, im not going to say it impacted the final score. Louisville got the lead, and slowly but surely it got bigger. They were the better team. There were calls both sides can complain about, (and in a game that physical, no chance of over the back ever being called, btw) but the better team won. Just watching the game, there were plenty of fouls on mcgary that werent called.

    Congrats to louisville. Tip your hat to them and move on with life.

    • polegojim - Apr 9, 2013 at 2:52 PM

      Amen and Amen… plenty to go around. Plenty of chances for Michigan to win it.

      Louisville earned it.

    • kingghidora - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:06 PM

      Sometimes I wonder if people ever pay attention to the things that have been discovered in recent years. Just last week a Pac 10 ref was fired for lobbying other refs to call games against AZ. And the chief of the SEC officals was fired for an unknown reason too. Then there was the huge scandal among the NBA refs a couple of years ago. You act like corruption doesn’t happen. How many times do they need to be caught before you understand that pie in the sky stuff about how refs don’t cheat is just bunk. They do cheat. You can’t tell me that one ref calling 6 Kentucky games in a year where they lost 5 of them is a coincidence. Kentucky doesn’t lose that often and to lose 5 times in one year in games that a single ref was involved in is obscene. UK fans have talked about that guy all season. Now he screws up the NCAA tournament too. I know bad calls when I see them. I know Michigan got hosed and trust me I am no fan of Michigan. Did you see that missed goal tending call? It was so obvious a blind man could have called it from the sound. There was probably a dozen calls that bad in that game. And there were bad calls in the Wichita St. game too. No way it wasn’t deliberate. You guys live in a dream world if you think all that money doesn’t corrupt people. How many examples do you need? Heck the NCAA is as corrupt as all get out. Tell me why North Carolina hasn’t had their championships vacated when it’s already been proven they created fake classes for their players to prop up their grades.

      I don’t live in Candy Land. How about you?

    • bigmeechy74 - Apr 12, 2013 at 8:13 PM

      I call BS on you being a michigan foul. You are just trolling for thumbs up and it worked. If you were a real michigan fan you would be screaming about that call. Come on dude. Give me a break.

  4. scoregasmic - Apr 9, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    You’re forgetting the missed call when behanen was getting murdelated under the rim and should have earned an and 1

  5. jkorf - Apr 9, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    The apparent discrepancy in the total number of fouls called for each team can be explained by simply looking at their games this year. UL averaged over twice as many fouls as UM for the season. And that’s a staple of Pitino-ball: Foul a ton and see what you can get away with.

    The non-goaltend on Dieng early in the first half. Hancock jumping backwards and sideways into a defender to get 3 shots. Burke not getting two shots when Siva hacked the ball away from him in the air. Hancock getting his 4th foul, but it somehow being given to Harrell (I think). And obviously the block referenced in the post. That’s too much to overcome for an inferior team. UL also got a couple of bad calls, but not in such high leverage spots. Inexcusable performance by the refs.

    That said, I’m not sure if everything had gone UM’s way that Beilein wouldn’t have found a way to screw it up.

    • savoirlaire - Apr 9, 2013 at 4:32 PM

      I’m not going to further dispute anything about the refs, but as I said on another post, what is it about a head fake on a 3 pointer that you don’t understand? If Hancock makes the head fake and the defender bites, so much so that he leaves his feet, then it’s simple…as the shooter, you go up into the now airborne defender and get three shots. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Watch some video footage of a fella named Larry Bird sometime…he used to do it a lot. If the defender leaves his feet in front of a shooter, a smart shooter will jump right into him, and it ain’t the shooters fault when contact is made, Einstein.

      • oruacat2 - Apr 9, 2013 at 4:58 PM

        True, but Burke (it was his 2nd PF) was past Hancock – Hancock had to jump TO HIS LEFT in order to initiate that contact because Burke had already sailed past him. Terrible call.

      • kingghidora - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:15 PM

        If the defender jumps across the front of the shooter and the shooter jumps into the defender then the shooter initiated the contact and he is guilty of a foul, not the defender. People leave their feet to defend jump shots all the time. The kind of excuse you’re making is exactly the excuse refs use to get the results they want in a game. They make that call against one team and for another team in the same situation. It’s called cheating.

    • oruacat2 - Apr 9, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      Yep. The refs,will only call so many fouls before they start thinking about what that final box score is gonna look like. Pitino knows this and takes advantage of it.

  6. tarr123 - Apr 9, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    Under the basket fouls amongst the bigs were not gonna be called PERIOD but in a six point game the 2 most blatant calls went Louisville’s way the goaltending call in the first minute of the game and the Trey Burke foul and LOL at dude saying it was questionable i haven’t run into a person yet who thought that was a foul.

  7. joneildu - Apr 9, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    Retrospect makes every bad call for the losing team seem like calls in leveraged moments.

    And people have to get off the refs for Trey Burkes 2nd foul. It was a textbook foul. As evidenced in this photo.

    Burke made a mistake that they teach you to avoid in middle school. It was a good call. The block was a bad call, but Behanan was absolutely mauled and deserved an and-1 30 seconds prior. No one looks at that because Louisville won. Calls that cost the losing tea, are the ones spotlighted.

    • kingghidora - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:09 PM

      When a team is getting hosed they will almost always start trying to play the way the refs are letting the other team play. The ONE game I ever played where my team really got hosed we did that. But the refs don’t call things the same for both teams. How many times do they have to get caught before you understand that?

  8. staff2cj - Apr 9, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    Apparently they have close ties with David Stern

  9. skids003 - Apr 9, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    Hey, this is what the game has evolved to. Announcers don’t want you to call anything, especially if the media darlings get into foul trouble. It has become physical because this is what announcers, coaches, and fans want. It’s not basketball any more, it borders on rugby.

  10. barkleyblows - Apr 9, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    Really?? Now we are going to cry about officiating?? Unreal. Another great article guys, keep it up!

  11. kiopta1 - Apr 9, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Was pulling for Mich but congrats Louisville. Really poor officiating all around. The champ game is supposed to have the 2 best BBall teams and the beat ref team. Only those taking shots fit that description.

  12. jrs45 - Apr 9, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    As much as I dislike michigan (lower case) I have to admit every single fan I know or have interacted with has been absolute class act! Those previous comments from michigan (lower case) fans are what every fan should work on trying to be. Wow lots of respect for you guys.


    A non hater Buckeye Alum.

  13. ifrinstructor - Apr 9, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    This same crew screwed Michigan State against Duke.

  14. tr5079 - Apr 9, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    They could have called a foul on Louisville every time down the court. I’ve never seen a team that grabs, reaches, slaps, etc more than they do.

  15. tkellen - Apr 9, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    If only people could get a clue about sports and officiating. They are human and are going to miss calls. However if it is called a foul, guess what it is. A foul! Officials do not win or lose games. For every bad call there are 100 wrong decisions or actions made by the player or team that affect the outcome of the game. The worst thing ever invented is the slow motion replay. It was a great game by both teams and the better team won. Congrats to the Cardinals. If anyone thinks they could do better and not be biased toward their favorite team, pick up a whistle or shut up.

    I love when people gripe about a home plate umpire. The batter strikes out watching a 3rd strike. Super slow motion replay shows it was 6″ off the plate. The umpire called this exact spot a strike all night long. It goes in the books as a strike. Swing the bat foul it off and get a better pitch next time.

    Make the decision what role you want to play and play it. Official? Player? Fan? Coach? Which one are you? You can only pick one!

    • kingghidora - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:24 PM

      Remember Pete Rose shoving that umpire? Do you know why he did it? He did it because that ump would call Reds players out at first when they were two steps ahead of the throw. There’s video evidence of this stuff. He made it clear time after time he hated the Reds. MLB quietly fired that ump after the season when Rose was suspended for shoving that cheating jerk. Rose did more for baseball with that one shove than most players do in a lifetime.

      Refs and umps do cheat. Anyone who thinks they don’t is living in Candy Land.

  16. tkellen - Apr 9, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    Watching the video above, how is the right shoulder of Burke going into Siva knocking him backwards not a foul? Keep in mind the ref making the call probably has the angle looking up between the two from the opposite side as the camera.

    • bigmeechy74 - Apr 12, 2013 at 8:11 PM

      I hope you are trolling. Because that was one of the most beautiful and perfect blocks I’ve ever seen in my life.

  17. cullimon - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    How would that have been the defensive play of the season? can you quit just falling over yourself to promote UofM

  18. cornbreadbbqred - Apr 10, 2013 at 2:17 AM

    Seeing it in slow-mo, it appears the officials got it right. Trey makes forceful contact forearm-to-forearm before sweeping through at the height of his reach to trap the ball against the glass. This contact on the arm down low did influence Siva being able to bring the ball through for a more forceful dunk attempt at the height of his leap. Even though Trey got good contact on the ball, he got to it by a contact foul on the lower part of Siva’s arm. The officials got it right, but don’t ask me how they could have seen it or have been sure what occurred at real-time speed.

    • kingghidora - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:25 PM

      Did you see the rest of the game? UL got away with contact time after time. Mich. didn’t. The key to a fairly called game is to call consistently for both teams. That didn’t happen.

  19. gopherz - Apr 10, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    no fan of either team; but the CARDS were the better TEAM.

  20. florida727 - Apr 10, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    I’ve never refereed a college basketball game but two of my friends called women’s Final Fours and one won the Naismith award as the top official in women’s basketball one year, so I’m biased, but in my opinion referees don’t determine outcomes. Players do. No level of officiating would have changed the result of this game. Louisville won. Period. Why diminish their accomplishment by bitching about the striped shirts?

    • kingghidora - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:18 PM

      At least you realize you’re biased. Why you don’t understand that colors your view of things is beyond me. Why worry about the refs? How many times do they have to be caught cheating before you get past your pie in the sky view of refs as some pristine, sent from heaven infallible beings that would never, ever try to make one team over another?

  21. manchestermiracle - Apr 11, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    Didn’t watch the game, but in the video above any foul call was pretty thin. I did see goaltending, or is trapping the ball against the glass legal in college?

  22. kingghidora - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    Better read my comments quick. NBC is apparently afraid of posting real opinions despite facts to back them up. How typical. They aren’t much better than the refs that ruined the Final 4.

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