As the final Sunday of March is here, it’s only just that I comment on two of the top stories in college basketball today. Read on and enjoy.
Remember that movie voice-over guy who started ever movie trailer with “In a world…?” That’s kind of how I felt after the official in the Duke-Utah game called a foul with .07 seconds remaining. The call resulted in two free throws for Duke’s Quinn Cook who made one of them and that’s all that was needed to shift the money in Las Vegas sportsbooks.
Duke closed as a five-point favorite and led 62-57 at the time the foul was called. With that one free throw the money changed from the underdog to the favorite and some are claiming as much as one million dollars shifted. For a good deal of bettors who had a parlay with Michigan State over Oklahoma, it was a good night for the favorites.
If I go back to my opening line for a minute, what I mean is that does anything really surprise us anymore? There seemed to have been at least two or three other more likely fouls that were going to be called but weren’t in the final ten seconds. Utah players were already walking off the court at the time of the foul and knowing that one, two or zero makes meant absolutely nothing to the outcome of the game has people wondering.
There’s no doubt there have to be some questions asked about the official. My gut tells me he’s clean but I’m to the point where I just don’t buy coincidences like this anymore. With the amount of money wagered on these tournament games, whose to say an official couldn’t be bought? Again, I don’t think this is anymore than a random incident for us to discuss but the NCAA wouldn’t be wrong to look into a bit.
Izzo, Pitino Meet After Solid Tourney Runs
In of the Elite Eight games today we have a match-up between two legendary coaches who most probably didn’t think would get here this season. Tom Izzo and Rick Pitino have led their Michigan State and Louisville teams respectively into their match-up today and if you look at brackets around the country, I don’t think too many saw this coming.
Neither coach has lost his ability to coach or anything like that but both of their teams had significant question marks entering the tournament. Pitino cemented his legacy by winning a title with the Cardinals to match the one he had with Kentucky. His ability to get the most out of his players has always been one of his greatest strengths.
Izzo still has the one title he earned with the Spartans in 2000, but he just keeps on winning games in March that somehow don’t look so winnable. Regardless of what happens today, this has been easily one of Izzo’s best coaching jobs. After basically throwing the Big Ten Tournament title away, the team bounced back in the tournament and has won the last two games in the same aggressive, hard-charging attitude we’ve grown accustomed.
Neither of these teams has players that will go on to great things in the NBA, at least not that I can tell right now, and that’s what makes them special. One of these teams will cut down the nets today and will celebrate a trip to the Final Four in Indianapolis. The other will look at the season as unsuccessful and that’s to be expected these days but they still have no reason to hang their heads.