Monday night's National Championship game, like almost all college basketball games, featured its fair share of shoddy officiating. It's just the nature of the sport now, one that is dominated by whistles and replay and missed whistles that require more replay. It can be a brutal watch, and it's not entirely the fault of the referees, as Shane Ryan nicely pointed out on Monday. This was more apparent than ever at certain points during the Virginia-Texas Tech game in Minneapolis.
Two calls in particular had massive implications on the final outcome, though only one is getting all the attention on Tuesday morning. The call we're referring to occurred with 1:06 remaining left in overtime, with Virginia in possession of the basketball with a 75-73 lead. Cavaliers guard Ty Jerome put up a potential dagger shot to go up four, but missed and the ball was batted to half court. Texas Tech guard David Moretti raced after the ball and got to it before Virginia's Kyle Guy and De'Andre Hunter, but they were able to swarm Moretti enough to produce a loose ball. It looked as though Hunter had knocked the ball out, and refs originally ruled that he did and it was Texas Tech ball, but it was a close play, and any play under two minutes left can be reviewed.
Replay showed that the ball had just grazed off the pinky of Moretti, something that could only be seen on the third or fourth viewing in slow motion. That gave Virginia the ball, and the Red Raiders were never able to recover, eventually losing 85-77. The argument on Tuesday morning seems to be that this was not the original intention of replay in sports, but it's become the unfortunate reality. Bang-bang plays that can be impossible to call in real time are now being dissected inch-by-inch, producing championship-changing calls like this one. Whether you like it or not, it was the right call, which IS what replay is for—getting it right.
But there was another, actual blown call that will haunt the dreams of Red Raiders fans for years to come. This one also occurred in overtime almost two minutes earlier, when Texas Tech had taken control, leading 73-70 after guard Matt Mooney hit a momentum-shifting three-pointer. In need of a bucket, Virginia went to Kyle Guy, who drove right and tripped, fell and lost the ball. The official immediately called a foul on Moretti, which gave two free throws to Guy. He made both and Virginia ended the game on a 15-4 run after that. The problem? Moretti didn't trip Guy, his own teammate Mamadi Diakite did. Here's the video:
As you can see, Moretti and his teammates could not believe it. He did not even touch Guy, nor did big man Norense Odiase, who was also standing right there. Guy literally tripped over his own guy and lost the ball, which should have resulted in a turnover, giving Texas Tech the ball with a three-point lead and 2:45 remaining. Add in the fact that Virginia was in the midst of mini drought and you could argue that if Tech was able to get another bucket and go up four or five it would be a lot to overcome for the Cavaliers, though overcoming a lot had been their M.O. all tournament long. Instead, Guy hit his free throws on the phantom foul call and Virginia never looked back. That, plus PinkyGate with 1:06 left, will make this one an extremely tough one to swallow for Red Raider fans.