Airing of (College Basketball) Grievances

College basketball is my favorite sport and of course, this is my favorite time of year. But that’s not to say there are some things that drive me nuts….and “Now you’re going to hear about them!”


1. Ridiculous Reviews

Of course we all know that the replay system is insanely flawed and hoping the NCAA will do something about it is like waiting for pigs to fly. A challenge system (two per team) is the obvious way to go instead of looking at anything questionable, especially under two minutes. But what really gets me to fly off the handle are two things: The first is when a referee goes to the monitor to look at time when it has no impact on the game. Tie ballgame, WAIT, stop….we need to first look at see if it’s 20.5 seconds or 21.2 seconds left. A team down by two points, WAIT, stop…is it 41 seconds or 42 seconds. There is no common sense.

The other issue is reviewing out-of-bounds balls that are not 50/50. Of course you’ll hear broadcasters defend this non-stop (“You have to get it right”), but it’s like the referees can’t trust their own decision. If the offending team is walking the other way and not arguing, move on!

Yes, I know officiating is hard, but these guys are really slowing the game down and taking the fun out of it (also, have you ever noticed that refs LOVE putting their hand on another official during a discussion or review? Why?). That brings me to my next grievance:


2. Referees incessantly blowing the whistle after an obvious buzzer beater

A team wins the game at the buzzer…everyone goes crazy! Amazing, so much fun right! Wrong if you are a referee. The new fad (to “get it right”), is to constantly blow your whistle and try and wave teams back to their bench and stop this celebration nonsense to have another look at it. Of course, this is fine if it’s a close call. However, it’s happening so frequently even if it is completely obvious that the shot got off and there’s not time left after the ball went through the hoop. Just check out last night’s buzzer beater between Wofford and UNC-Greensboro (forward to 1:15, listen to the whistles and watch the ref at the bottom signal for the review):


3. Bid Thief

I would like a word with whoever thought this was clever. The concept is that an unexpected conference tournament winner in a multi-bid conference “stole” a bid to the NCAA Tournament from a bubble team. This is so wrong. How do you get into the Big Dance? You win your conference! You earn a bid by going through the grueling conference tournament. 32 teams deserve the right to move on based on this. I don’t want to hear that a 17-14 Syracuse team in a mediocre ACC had a bid stolen from them.

4. “Let’s take one more look”

On to the broadcasters….This is is a classic quote. After something big happens, you’ll hear this phrase, but the funny thing is…it’s often their first look again at the replay. Case in point, the venerable (and blah) Mike Gleason just did it after the USC-Upstate buzzer beater a few days ago (see ESPN+ for video)


5. “You think these guys don’t want it?”

Whoever said that? Does anybody watch and think, “eh, they don’t really care, they don’t want to win”. Surely, not in this sport or this time of year…but this is a stupid phrase anytime.


6. “This Fanbase really travels well”

OK, this is more of a Pro Sports broadcaster annoyance, but it applies to a much lesser degree in college basketball (like Michigan fans at the Big 10 Tournament in Chicago for example). Does it ever cross their mind, that maybe these fans or alumni live in the visiting city?


7. Showing the Coaches after a win

Your team just won an exciting game. The players are celebrating, fans are going crazy and where do the cameras go? The Coaches. This happens so frequently and it drives me insane as someone who loves to see the emotion of sport. I do not want to see the coaches go to the handshake line or crack a smile and fist pump. Show me the players celebrating a win!

8. Four Year Transition

Universally loathed is the rule that schools moving up to Division I from a lower division must wait four years to complete in an NCAA Championship. This is why Bellarmine won the Atlantic Sun last year and couldn’t go to the Big Dance. Same thing as to why FDU celebrated after winning the NEC Semifinal last night since ineligible Merrimack is waiting for them in the final. The supposed reason this rule is in place is to deter D2 or D3 schools from making the wrong decision in moving up. What? You think that’s going to be the reason? It is archaic and it hurts the players, school and league. Will the NCAA change it? Probably not, because what do they actually do other than make sure the phrase “Student-Athlete” is uttered.

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