2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament: Important Observations 45-46 UNC/Washington, Duke/Michigan

Two exciting games so far, let’s hope this keeps happening today.

45. North Carolina 86, Washington 83Officials in basketball make more subjective calls than those in other sports and they have a much bigger impact at the end of the game.
First off, I’m not trying to say that the extra time on the clock in this game would have changed the outcome. But I sure would have liked to see Washington have the proper amount of time to get off a shot to tie the game. This game, paired with the Pitt/Butler game yesterday show exactly how much of an impact basketball refs have over the outcome of a game. In football, a lot of the officiating is fairly obvious and the rulebook has recently been written to limit the number of subjective penalties. In baseball, the majority of officiating is setting the strike zone, and while it may be different for each official, it’s still pretty consistent. But in basketball, a lot of the fouls and even a majority of the remaining calls are extremely subjective. That’s just part of the game and everyone knows it. But yesterday’s Pitt/Butler game and the end of today’s UNC/Washington game show us just how much control the officials have in basketball. I’d say of the 13 people on the court, there are several cases where the three officials are the ones in the most control of the final seconds of the games.

46. Duke, Michigan — Kyrie Irving is going to be a big part of Duke’s tournament season.
The freshman guard led the team in scoring in the first round, and was pretty quiet today, although he still scored 9 points and had a couple of key assists late in the game. Nolan Smith did a big portion of the scoring late, but with just under a minute left and a one-point lead, Duke needed to score and they went to Irving, not Smith, or Singler, the seniors who were a part of last year’s championship team. Not only was Irving not a part last year’s team, he wasn’t a part of this year’s team for half the season. And it’s not like he was the the hot hand for the day, he hadn’t made a shot yet and until then, had made only free throws (and all of those were in the first half). But Coach K went to Irving, and he made the big shot when it needed to be made. If anyone was concerned about what Kyrie would be able to provide for the Dukies in this tournament, stop worrying. He’s ok. And he’ll be a big part of the Duke plan moving forward in this tournament.