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Favorable Calls Tipped Baylor Game in Duke’s Favor

Pete Gillen famously mused that Duke is “on TV more than Leave it to Beaver reruns.” Perhaps his statement should be amended to say, “Certainly Duke is Duke, they get more favorable draws and favorable calls than anyone,” because that’s how I feel after seeing the Blue Devils advance to their latest Final Four. Give the Blue Devils credit for having an excellent regular season and winning four games in the tournament but I can’t get past a couple of issues.

The first issue is one about which I complained on Selection Sunday and many times before — Duke got a favorable seed and favorable draw. They were the third number one seed — ahead of Syracuse despite the Orange’s undisputed more impressive resume — and they somehow avoided the top two number two seeds in Ohio State and West Virginia. Not only did they receive a struggling Villanova team in their bracket (losers of five of seven entering the tourney), but they also got Purdue as their four seed — a team that struggled to score once they lost Robbie Hummel to a knee injury. The NCAA took care of their part, Duke did theirs.

The second issue is one that tipped the South Regional finals game in Duke’s favor — favoritism from the refs. Although I felt like the game was called evenly the first 35 minutes or so, three calls in the final five minutes helped take the ball out of Baylor’s hands and give Duke more opportunities for victory. Let’s go over each one.

The first controversial call that went Duke’s way was at the 4:37 mark of the second half. Baylor was up 59-57 and had the ball following a Udoh block. In transition, Quincy Acy passed up a jumper to drive baseline towards the hoop. Duke center Brian Zoubek slid to the baseline to try and draw a charge call which he did. The call could have gone either way. Had it gone Baylor’s way, they could have gone up by two possessions and Zoubek would have been fouled out. It went Duke’s way and the Blue Devils took the lead on a Nolan Smith three pointer. Duke went on a 15-3 run after this call.

The next controversial call happened two possessions later. Following a Udoh floater to give Baylor the lead 61-60, Tweety Carter was whistled for a foul — I’m not really sure why but I’m guessing because of a reach. I’m still trying to figure out the reason. Officials can call fouls on many plays if they really want to but they generally allow guys to play otherwise everyone would be fouling out. They chose to whistle Tweety and that put Nolan Smith at the line who went one of two. It also was Baylor’s 10th foul, putting Duke in the double bonus. Duke went on a 12-1 run after this call.

The last controversial call happened when the game was somewhat out of hand, but it nonetheless completes the picture. With 1:19 left, Jon Scheyer was trapped and called a timeout. Upset that LaceDarius Dunn was still close to him after the timeout, Scheyer swung his elbows at Dunn to create space. Quincy Acy saw Scheyer throw the elbow and raced over to get in the middle of things. After watching replays and debating, the officials called a technical giving Scheyer two free throws and Duke the ball with a 10 point lead. How Scheyer wound up with nothing called on him is inexplicable.

My last point has to do with the claim that Baylor’s failure to rebound allowed Duke to win. I don’t disagree; second chance opportunities plus Duke’s three point shooting keyed the win. But why was Duke so successful on the offensive glass? It probably helped that Baylor 7′ center Josh Lomers was called for five fouls in only nine minutes on the court. Three of his fouls were legitimate while two were sketchy. His first foul — they said he threw an elbow at Zoubek — was petty considering how physical Zoubek is and it should not have been called. His fifth foul occurred in a crowd of three and was wrongly attributed to him on a Kyle Singler drive. Heck, even on the dumb foul where he landed on Jon Scheyer, the contact did not occur in the act of shooting and therefore Scheyer should not have been awarded three shots as he was.

Yes Duke is a very good team and yes they played quite well but the exact same thing can be said about Baylor. The only thing Baylor didn’t have in their favor was the NCAA. Who can blame them for that?



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  • Baylorfan

    Great article. You expressed in basketball terms exactly what I saw yesterday in Houston. We were a better more athletic team and I thought we could have pulled it out in the end with that talent but for the refs. Duke guards were holding Tweety and Lace all day and we get called for touch fouls. At one point, it seemed like every point or at least the points that kept Duke close were all coming from the free throw line. It made me sick. I truly believe CBS and the NCAA are pleased with how this turned out and wouldn’t be surprised if this sentiment was widely known before the game started by all involved. Very upsetting.

  • In North Carollina

    You nailed this, I am disgusted with the charge call. The NCAA should impose sanctions on itself and apologize to Baylor fans and the university. This call is a momentum changer either way, and I felt like Zoubek was there way to late. Really should have been an easy call refs at this stage of the tourney. Then to top it off with a phantom touch foul told me right away the refs where in the bag for duke. What a load. NCAA needed a number one pretty bad with all the ratings being in the tank I guess. If this is how we are going to treat college athletics, the kids should be paid as well. Good Job on the article, I am sure all but the duke fans agree. (was that a 7 pt swing in the 35 seconds of play? Not to mention the pts baylor would have had if the call had been correct)

  • KRAZED

    Wow. Whine much, Larry, and his ass-kissing posse who commented? Go to a corner and cry like a baby. No, I am not Duke fan, but people whine about fouls too much. Kansas State sure wasn’t whining when they lost two key players against a Xavier team that was lighting it up from three all game long. Point blank: Fouls didn’t cost Baylor the game. Baylor cost Baylor the game. And Syracuse? Ohio State? Oh, you mean those overrated teams that were fortunate to be in the Sweet 16? What’s it matter if Syracuse was seeded higher than Duke? The result would have been the same. What a trashy article. Then again, it’s FoxSports, what do you expect. Nobody even watches their television networks lol.

  • Gene

    Wake up and smell the coffee, KRAZED. How do you explain the favorable draw Duke got? Why was Ohio State not put in their bracket? They were the #3 1 seed and Ohio State was the #2 two seed. How did Kansas wind up with them while Duke got Villanova, which was probably the lowest two seed and probably did not even deserve that? Duke also got a bracket filled with finesse teams like Cal. Gee, maybe they didn’t want the fragile flowers of the south to get bumps and bruises.

    The NCAA wants Duke to go as far as possible because they are like the Dallas Cowboys and the N. Y. Yankees. ESPN and Dickie V. slobber over them every year. The NCAA tournament is up for negotiation after this year and it seems probable that the NCAA wants the highest ratings possible for leverage in the negotiations, therefore it is easy to see why they were treated like the top seed overall.

  • SpinMax

    well done

  • sicembu

    I completely agree with everything you said, and actually had all of those same thoughts during the game. I went crazy after Lomers’ fourth foul on the three-pointer. Most definitely should have been a no call at best and a post-shot foul at worst. Having Lomers in the game would have significantly changed the rebounding margin (I’d be interested to see rebound margins well he was in the game). No comment is necessary for the Acy charge, as, yes, it could have gone either way, but even the commentators disagreed with it. Also not only was Tweety called for a touch foul that didn’t happen, but a little early Lace was called for the same sort of foul. And the Scheyer elbows and resulting fracas was just ridiculous that the only call out of that is a T on Acy. Another comment about Zoubek playing dirty and Lomers getting a questionable call for elbowing him. I believe in the first half, Duke got a defensive rebound (Zoubek) and initially threw elbows both left and right, and was clearly leading with the elbow, not just clearing space. Had he made contact, which he very nearly did, would have most definitely been a flagrant foul. Poor job refs. Great game though regardless Baylor. They have taken themselves to the national level, and should be better next year, if Udoh stays.

  • johnny jihadist

    great job of recapping the latest shenanigans by LB, but i’m amazed that people continue to be surprised by this stuff…where did CB$ sports president sean mcmanus go to college?…where did CB$ regional color commentator jay bilas go to college?…where did CB$ regional color commentator jim spanarkel go to college?…where did CB$ regional color commentator mike gminski go to college?…where did CB$ regional color commentator bob wenzel used to be an assistant coach?…where did CB$ studio analyst seth davis go to college?…what network that NEEDS television ratings like the desert needs the rain shells out all the dough for this tournament every year?…oh, and it just so happens to be time to hammer out a new television deal…IMAGINE THAT!…they hadn’t had their precious little dewkies advance past the second weekend in 5 years, so this year they decided to pull out all the stops and anyone who folows the sport could see it unfolding plain as day right there on selection sunday…but hey, it’s not like they were trying to hide it or anything…the most preposterous, or at least the least talked about, element was the d()()kies being spoonfed the winner of the play-in game which is supposed to be reserved for the overall #1 seed…again, they made it obvious right then and there…stop acting like this is shocking and/or new in any way, people!

  • Gene

    LB, I think you made one slight mistake when you said the first half was evenly called. I think you need to qualify that by saying that it was, except for the calls on Josh Lomers.

    Based upon your analysis of the game, the early fouls on Lomers had a profound effect on the outcome.