Ref blows Syracuse over-and-back call [video]

It’s been a tough day to be a ref, but the officials blew another one, this time in the Syracuse/Marquette game.

The rule (4.3.8) states:

After a jump ball or during a throw-in, the player in his/her front court, who makes the initial touch on the ball while both feet are off the playing court, may be the first to secure control of the ball and land with one or both feet in the back court. It makes no difference if the first foot down was in the front court or back court.

Notice that both feet of Scoop Jardine are off the court, and as he catches the ball his foot lands on the line. This should have been a play on, but the ref called a backcourt violation.

The game was tied at 59-59 with 0:52 to play and Marquette hit a three-pointer on the next possession to take control of the game. Marquette won, 66-62.

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Friday morning reaction

Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati Enquirer: We’ll just say Kansas State 101, Xavier 96 in double overtime was among the best NCAA tournament games you’ll ever see. And that’s saying quite a lot. Xavier and Kansas State stole the Madness out from under this event. It’s all theirs now, no arguments. There are only so many threes to be made in the crucible, only so many times to come back from the bottom of the well. It should be enough to say this was among the finest games played in a very long time. Maybe everywhere but Xavier, that is so. It really is too bad one team is going home today. What was your favorite cardiac-arrest moment? Terrell Holloway, calmly draining three free throws to tie the game in regulation? Jordan Crawford’s three from the right wing, with four seconds left in OT No. 1, to tie it again? Or, if you can stand it, Jacob Pullen’s three from the top of the key in OT No. 2, to clinch the longest day? There was a more lonely place on earth than that free throw line at about midnight last night, we’re pretty sure of that. It just doesn’t leap to mind. Terrell Holloway made the free throws. All three of them. Net-net-net, five seconds left in regulation, to tie the game. That was as bloodless an exhibition of basketball as we’re likely to see. At least for the next day or so. The NCAA Tournament is, after all, in the business of topping itself. Regularly.

Jason Whitlock, Kansas City Star: Thursday night, with the Kansas State basketball program on the brink of greatness, fate, bad officiating and a gutsy Xavier squad brought back memories of 1998, Bill Snyder and a football meltdown with a spot in the BCS championship riding on the outcome. From the moment the refs ignored Denis Clemente’s intentional foul at midcourt in the final seconds of regulation, Xavier-K-State felt like K-State-Texas A&M. Your heart dropped, tears welled in your eyes, and anger consumed your body. Fortunately for us, Martin and his Wildcats never buckled, never complained and never wasted a moment feeling sorry for themselves. Kansas State is not a team of destiny. It’s a team of preparation and determination and concentration and resolve. K-State basketball is Frank Martin. It’s a perfect storm exploding at the right time of the year. It’s a team that has refused to make excuses, a team that Thursday night survived a devastating foul call at the end of regulation and found a way to win.

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Butler upsets #1-seed Syracuse

The Orange led 54-50 with about three minutes to play when Ronald Nored’s deep three and an inside bucket by Matt Howard gave the Bulldogs a one-point lead. Syracuse turned the ball over on the next possession, and Willie Veasley got a kind bounce on a corner three to push the lead to four. From there it was fouling and free throws and the Bulldogs held on to win, 63-59. Butler closed the game with a 13-5 run.

The difference in the game was Syracuse’s inability to hold onto the ball. The Orange committed 18 turnovers compared to Butler’s seven, and that gave the Bulldogs four more shot attempts and seven more free throws.

Two #1 seeds gone, two remaining.

Here are the highlights:

The race for the #1 seeds

Being a #1 seed isn’t crucial, but it is important. Seventeen of the last 29 national champions were #1 seeds, so being a top seed would seem to give a team inside track on a title. (However, these are the top teams in the country, so we expect them to perform well.)

SI’s Seth Davis, who by the way I’ll be interviewing next Tuesday, discusses the current projected #1 seeds and how things can change over the next two and a half days.

Are Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse all going to be No. 1 seeds even if they lose their first game in their conference tournaments?

Not necessarily. You’ll recall that back in 2007, UCLA entered the Pac-10 tournament as everybody’s overall No. 1 seed. The Bruins lost to California in the quarterfinals and ended up as a 2 seed. It obviously didn’t cause much of a problem for them as they still reached the national championship game (where they lost to Florida), but if any of the Big Three repeat that feat, I’d say there’s a better chance than not they would fall to the 2 line.

Does Duke have the inside track to a No. 1 seed if it wins the ACC tournament?

Not necessarily. Kansas State could ring a few bells if it upsets Kansas en route to the Big 12 title, but the real threat to Duke’s claim to a No. 1 is West Virginia. My colleague Andy Glockner is the only bracket expert I’ve seen to peg West Virginia as a 1 seed right now, but while I disagree with that assessment as things stand today, the Mountaineers would almost assuredly vault to a 1 seed if they win the Big East tournament, especially if it includes a victory over Syracuse. Heading into their respective conference tourneys, Duke is 7-4 against the top 50 of the RPI and 15-4 against the top 100, while West Virginia is 6-4 and 15-6. Duke’s worst loss is at No. 104 N.C. State while West Virginia’s is at home against No. 61 UConn. Throw in a win over Syracuse and the Mountaineers would — and should — come out on top.

Incidentally, the other candidate, Villanova, would probably not vault over Duke if the Wildcats win the Big East tournament. Villanova is 5-5 against the top 50 and 13-6 against the top 100.

Syracuse’s #1 seed is in some jeopardy after dropping its game to Georgetown. It’s not often that a team enters the tournament as a #1 seed after losing two straight (or three of its last seven). After losing to Louisville at home, the Orange did beat Villanova and Georgetown before losing to Louisivlle to end the regular season and dropping its first Big East tourney game against the Hoyas. It would be tough for the committee to give West Virginia a #1 seed (over the Orange) seeing as Syracuse beat the Mountaineers in Morgantown, 72-71.

Kansas and Kentucky look safe. We can cross Villanova off the list of potential #1s after the Wildcats lost to Marquette in the Big East Championship. That leaves Duke, West Virginia, Purdue and Kansas State. If any of those teams go on to with their respective conference tournaments, a case could be made that they should get the fourth #1 seed.

#22 G-Town upends #3 Syracuse; Onuaku injured

Georgetown beat Syracuse, 91-84, in the quarterfinals of the Big East Championship. The Hoyas shot almost 58% from the field by attacking Syracuse’s zone in the paint via penetration, the high post and lobs to the rim. The Orange didn’t help themselves by turning the ball over 17 times, either.

The game turned when Andy Rautins started to struggle. He scored or assisted on six straight buckets early in the second half, giving Syracuse a nine-point lead, but over the next ten minutes, he took two bad threes and turned the ball over twice, and the Orange trailed by five. He reminds me of Kirk Hinrich when he’s playing well, but I don’t remember Hinrich having long stretches of sketchy play when he was at Kansas.

Chris Wright posted 27-6-6, and Greg Monroe added 15-8-7, making several nice passes from the high post against Syracuse’s zone.

The Orange lost Arinze Onuaku to a knee injury and it’s not clear how much time he will miss. Syracuse is not deep — the Orange only play seven players — so if Onuaku is going to miss significant time, it’s going to be a big blow to Syracuse’s title hopes.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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