Can you imagine if Kendall Marshall had to endure the whistle-less beating that Matt Dickey endured on the court Thursday afternoon?
Yeah, me either. Because UNC gets those calls (Actually UNC gets every call, just ask NC State).
Kentucky gets those calls.
Syracuse gets those calls.
What does UNC Asheville get? Nuts and bolts.
You would think, perhaps, that it would go the other way. That the underdog would get away with murder as the officials attempt to facilitate a thrilling upset.
But, no the officiating crew refused to call fouls against the Orange assaulting, I mean, defending our star guard.
That was all day.
However, there were three distinct instances in which the officiating crew (whose names I am omitting purposefully, because I refuse to look up the names of officials, on the principle of March Madness being about the players, not the nim-witted zebras) took matters into its own hands to ensure UNC Asheville’s defeat.
In the first half, Asheville forward Jeremy Atkinson’s layup attempt was smacked away after the ball had contacted the backboard, a clear goaltending violation.
This was a call that could be dismissed as simply a missed call, and it was the least egregious of the controversial calls, but cost us two points nonetheless.
With 1:20 left in the second half, and the Bulldogs down by a surmountable four points, J.P. Primm was called for crossing the top of the arc before Syracuse’s Scoop Jardine shot and missed a 1 and 1 free throw opportunity.
First of all, that is a call that is never made unless the perpetrator is practically under the hoop when the shot is released.
But, secondly, and most importantly, that first argument is irrelevant. Primm did not even commit the violation he was called for.
And, oh yeah, Jardine sank the next two free throws gifted to him by the referees to make it a six-point game.
Finally, and most disturbingly, with 35 seconds left and the Orange up by 3, a Syracuse inbounds pass clearly; and I mean clearly, no doubt, unarguably, deflected off Syracuse’s Brandon Triche’s stone-like hands and went out of bounds, which should have given Asheville the ball.
Not tonight, though.
Tonight, it was called out of bounds off of a defending Jaron Lane, who was a good three or four feet from the point where the ball was contacted.
Syracuse got the ball back, and the Bulldogs were forced to foul in a last-ditch effort.
It is tempting, yet disingenuous, to say that the referees lost us the game, but in a match-up meant to be determined by the players, it is entirely accurate to say that the referees in Pittsburgh on Thursday afternoon were guilty of altering an otherwise thrilling and nerve-racking contest.