Poor officiating puts a black-eye on a thrilling, memorable Final Four

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ATLANTA — This year’s Final Four was as good of a Final Four as you will ever see.

All three games were thrilling, capped off by one of the most entertaining basketball games that I’ve watched in a long, long time. And frankly, it was a perfect way to end this season, one that reinvigorated many-a-jaded college hoops fans with great games, better finishes and a year where it seemed physically impossible to dislike the best players in the country.

The tournament needed this kind of a finish. After what was an overwhelmingly boring tournament — outside of Dunk City, of course — we closed it unforgettable fashion. I mean, seriously, Spike Albrecht scoring 17 points in a half, only to be outdone when Luke Hancock hit four threes in the span of two minutes? What in the freakin’ world?

The problem that will be overshadowed, however, is that breathtaking hoops wasn’t the only season-long trend that continued into the Final Four. Horrific officiating, particularly in the biggest moments of the game, managed to weasel it’s way into the Georgia Dome.

It started with the mythical jump ball that Hancock was somehow able to earn in the final seconds against Wichita State when it looked like Ron Baker had gained control and given the Shockers a chance to tie on the last possession. It continued later that night, as Jordan Morgan was given credit for taking a charge that was dangerously close to being a block.

And then on Monday night, it was the worst call of them all.

On arguably the best defensive play of the season, Trey Burke was called for a foul as he went up to block Peyton Siva’s breakaway dunk attempt.

Burke got it clean. Check it out for yourself:

source:

That’s a block.

It was called a foul.

And the swing in momentum more-or-less ended any chance Michigan had to come back, because Peyton Siva hit both free throws to put Louisville up 71-64, a lead that they eventually extended to 76-66.

Now, Michigan may not have come back. They may not have won the game anyway. But they certainly didn’t have any favors done for them with yet another missed call.

It was a problem that we ran into far too often this season. It was a problem that showcased itself on the biggest stage in college hoops.

Can we please do something to fix this?

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Mark Emmert: NCAA Board of Governors to meet ‘in the next few days’ to determine N.C.’s tournament standing

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Late on Wednesday night, the state of North Carolina reached an agreement to repeal the controversial and discriminatory House Bill 2 law, which is commonly known as the bathroom bill.

The NCAA had given the state a deadline of Thursday morning to make a change in this law or they would miss out on hosting NCAA tournament game until the 2022 season, so it’s not hard to connect the dots here. The pressure the NCAA asserted on the state helped create a change.

The question is just how much of a change, as many believe that the repeal does not do enough to change what is discriminatory about the law.

“What distinguished North Carolina,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said, “there were four distinct problems that the board had with that bill, and they removed some of them but not all of them. If you removed two or three of them, is that enough?”

The NCAA Board of Governors have stretched out the process of determining future tournament sites as far as possible, Emmert said, meaning that a decision on this new bill will be made soon.

“Because this happened on such short notice, we have to find a time to get together with the board, and that will probably happen in the next few days,” Emmert said, and in those meetings, the board “will determine if this [new] bill is sufficient change.”

“I’m personally very pleased they have a bill to debate and discuss. Hopefully we can be in a place where we can announce the board’s decision early next week.”

Gonzaga’s Mark Few named AP Coach of the Year

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Gonzaga head coach Mark Few has added to his program’s banner season with an individual award, being named AP Coach of the Year on Thursday afternoon.

Few led the Bulldogs to their first Final Four. The Zags enter the national semifinal with a 36-1 record. Up until Feb. 25, they were flirting with a perfect season. A loss to BYU is currently the only blemish on their season.

Few also won his 500th career game during the course of the 2016-17 season. Since 2014, two coaches from outside the major conferences have earned his honor. Gregg Marshall was named AP Coach of the Year in 2014 after leading the Shockers to a perfect regular season.

This was a very competitive race this season. Sean Miller lost two players expected to be key pieces this season — and had Allonzo Trier miss 19 games — but guided Arizona to the Pac-12 Tournament championship. Jay Wright led Villanova to another Big East title despite two cornerstone pieces — Ryan Arcidiancono and Daniel Ochefu — gone from last season’s national championship team. For a while, Baylor’s Scott Drew seemed to be the favorite. The Bears didn’t receive a single vote in the preseason top-25 poll but went on to earn a No. 1 ranking.

Few’s season continues on Saturday against South Carolina.

Frank Mason is named AP Player of the Year

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Kansas point guard Frank Mason III was named the AP Player of the Year on Thursday afternoon.

The senior floor general for the Jayhawks headlined the AP All-American team, which included UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, Villanova Swingman Josh Hart, Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan and North Carolina small forward Justin Jackson.

Mason averaged 20.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and shot 49 percent from behind the 3-point line during the 2016-17 season. He helped guide Kansas to its 13th consecutive Big 12 regular season title.

He becomes the fourth senior in a row to win the award, preceded by Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine, Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminksy and Creighton’s Doug McDermott.

He had previously been named player of the year by NBC Sports.

TJ Leaf declares for the 2017 NBA Draft

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UCLA freshman forward TJ Leaf announced he is declaring for the 2017 NBA Draft on Thursday afternoon.

The 6-foot-10 Leaf averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. His shooting numbers were also impressive, connecting on 62 percent of his field goals, including 27-of-58 from beyond the 3-point arc.

This news comes six days after Lonzo Ball officially announced he had played his last game at UCLA. Neither move is shocking, with Ball in the running for the No. 1 overall pick and Leaf also pegged as a first round selection.

The Bruins will have quite a bit of turnover next season with guards Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton exhausting their eligibility. UCLA head coach Steve Alford has a six-man recruiting class set to come in to help replenish the roster. It’s led by versatile forward Kris Wilkes, point guard Jaylen Hands, and big men Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.

CBT Fancast: Catching up with famous Final Four fans: Adam Morrison, Marcus Paige, Neil Everett

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For today’s episode, I spoke with the famous fans of the programs in the Final Four, from the greatest player in Gonzaga history to the almost-star of last year’s Final Four to the most famous dual Gonzaga and Oregon fan in the world.