Basketblog: March Madness & Asheville's sadness | Basketball | CBC Sports

NBABasketblog: March Madness & Asheville's sadness

Posted: Friday, March 16, 2012 | 11:54 AM

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Matt Dickey, centre, of the UNC Asheville Bulldogs reacts from the bench as he watches the final seconds of his team's defeat at the hands of Syracuse. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Matt Dickey, centre, of the UNC Asheville Bulldogs reacts from the bench as he watches the final seconds of his team's defeat at the hands of Syracuse. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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If you had Syracuse in your final four, you should be worried. You should be very worried. After their first round game, the Orange look like a definite bracket buster. On Thursday, No. 1 seeded Syracuse faced No. 16 seeded UNC Asheville and the end result was puzzling, and even maddening for some.

If you had Syracuse in your final four, you should be worried. You should be very worried. After their first round game, the Orange appear to have some serious bracket-busting potential.

On Thursday, No. 1 seeded Syracuse faced No. 16 seeded UNC Asheville and the end result was puzzling, and even maddening for some.

Asheville came out of the gate running, and they had the upper hand for the better part of the game. At halftime, the Bulldogs led 34-30 and they were in a good position to make history. They were 20 minutes away from being the first No. 16 seed to ever defeat a No. 1 seed.

Asheville entered the second half confident, continuing to play their game and forcing Syracuse to keep up. And Syracuse did keep up. With just over six minutes left in the game, the Orange took the lead for good.

To give credit where credit is due, Syracuse scrapped their way into a position where an upset seemed far less likely than it had 10 minutes earlier, but the last two minutes of what had been and remained a very close game were what made the final score so unsettling.

With 1:20 left to play, Syracuse's Scoop Jardine was at the line for 1-and-1 free-throws. He missed the first and Asheville retrieved the rebound, but the ref called a lane violation on the Bulldogs and Jardine got a do-over. This time, Jardine nailed both of them, widening Syracuse's lead to six points.

For those watching at home, the slow-motion review would suggest no violation on the part of Asheville. But the game went on.

With just over 30 seconds remaining, J.P. Primm made a three-pointer to cut Syracuse's lead to a manageable three points. Asheville put on a full-court press on the ensuing inbounds play, and it appeared to force an errant pass to Syracuse guard Brandon Triche. Triche dived out of bounds in an attempt to save the play, and the ball was inexplicably called out on Asheville, giving Syracuse possession.



This call even had the commentators scratching their heads. Did Asheville foul? Did Triche smack it off an Asheville player before flying out of bounds?

Syracuse went on to escape with a 72-65 win, and Asheville players - and their coach, Eddie Biedenbach - were ousted from the tournament feeling slighted and angry.

As a basketball coach, I preach that the uncontrollables are just that; out of our control. And the referees fall into this category. But in such an important, emotionally-charged tournament, perhaps more should be done to eliminate the possibility of human error.

Did the officials win this game for Syracuse? Or, in the game of basketball, it is impossible for the referees to have complete control of the outcome of any given game? At any rate, mistakes happen and the tournament does indeed go on.

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