The ending to the Syracuse Orange and UNC-Asheville Bulldogs second-round NCAA Tournament contest sure was an ugly one. The No. 1-seeded Orange survived with a 72-65 victory, however, March Madness fans will be talking about the lane violation, bad possession call on an inbound pass and the overall performance of the referees, who all missed calls during the game.
First, lets breakdown the lane violation call that came with 1:20 to go and Syracuse leading 62-58. After an on-the-floor foul call led to a 1-and-1 opportunity at the line for senior guard Scoop Jardine.
Initially, it looks as nothing went wrong and a lane-violation call was an awful one, especially when the call violation was on the guard (pictured left-corner) who was streaking in to snag the rebound. But if you take a look at this angle one can see a clear violation...
According to the NCAA Coordinator of Officials John Adams, who was an anaylist after the game ended on truTV, a guard is considered a free-throw shooter and must stay behind the free-throw line until the ball hits the rim. The GIF above shows UNC-Asheville junior guard J.P. Primm did just that and the call was correct. (Also, it needs to be mention senior forward Chris Stephenson's foot was inside the paint before Jardine released his shot.)
"It was a clear violation," said head referee Ed Corbett, "(the player) released early before the ball it the rim. We watched the replay 20 times and it was the right call."
Meanwhile, Jardine said this in the locker room:
Scoop on the lane violation: "First off, let me thank the refs for giving me an extra chance!"— John Garcia Jr. (@JohnGarcia_Jr) March 15, 2012
The second call came a few minutes later, after the Bulldogs trimmed the margin to 63-60 with two free throws from Primm with :35 remaining. Looking to inbound from the baseline, as UNC-Asheville was using the full-court press, a pass from sophomore forward C.J. Fair to junior guard Brandon Triche seemed go through Triche's hands and out of bounds, however, the call went in favor of Syracuse (Orange ball).
The GIF above does show the ball clearly not being caught by Triche, not touched by UNC-Asheville junior guard Jaron Lane (who did foul Triche, but, that doesn't matter with the call), and going out of bounds.
"It certainly looked like the player in white (Triche) knocks the ball out of bounds," said Adams. "I didn't say it was a good call, they gave it back to Syracuse and Syracuse knocked it out of bounds. It might be a case, trying as hard as they can, where the referees might not have gotten the call right."
In the post-game, Triche admitted the referees missed the call, while Corbett said, "No, its not reviewable and its not a play that we'd discuss with one another. I am not going to comment further because its a judgement call."
Overall, the referees were bad in this game and there's no way around it.
There was 42 foul calls, 22 on UNC-Asheville, which ranged from ticky-tack to "did that player just murder the other one?" There's was also a few goaltending calls missed, and they could have helped the Bulldogs too.
When asked about the game in general, UNC-Asheville head coach Eddie Biedenback said, "Syracuse is better than Asheville, but tonight Asheville was the better team."
Then, he said this about the referees:
Eddie Biedenbach, asked if they should keep ref crews together, said "they should keep the good ones together."— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) March 15, 2012
Syracuse's Jim Boeheim responded to Biedenback's comments saying, "that's why they make scoreboards".
All-in-all, the top-seeded Syracuse survive its first game of the NCAA Tournament without sophomore center Fab Melo, however, many will remember this game as the upset that never happened because of the referees.
- Quick note: At the end of the first half there was a foul call on a shooting attempt, which was made, by Triche, however, the call was overturned because of a shot-clock violation -- understand, the foul occurred before the violation -- which led to at least two points being taken off the scoreboard. In response to that call Corbett's response was: "We have the ability to look at the clock at the end of the game, that's what we did. The ball was clearly in the shooters hands which negated the shot."
My question is, if a foul occurs before the violation shouldn't there be some reward to the offensive team? I am not saying the refs made up rules, but there should, at least, be two free throws attempts or something.
For a breakdown of Syracuse vs. UNC-Asheville ending, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream.
For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket stick with SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for a complete printable NCAA Tournament bracket and tons of analysis on every March Madness game.