Reform Refereeing to Prevent Bad Calls in the NCAA Basketball Tournament

I love the NCAA basketball tournaments and March Madness. I enjoy both the men’s and the women’s games. This year was especially exciting because my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, went to the men’s Final Four. After years of watching the Badgers lose in the early rounds of the tournament, I had the privilege of cheering for my team in April!

I have one concern about the NCAA Tournament: some of the referees’ calls were clearly wrong and changed the final outcome of games. For example, the refs missed the foul by Michigan State’s Keith Appling, who knocked over a Virginia player toward the end of a Sweet Sixteen match. If Virginia had made the free throws that the team should have had, it probably would have won the game. After replaying the videotape that clearly showed the foul, the television commentators noted that the referees could not see the foul due to all of the bodies of players in the area. Similarly, in both Wisconsin’s game against Arizona in the Elite Eight and in the game against Kentucky in the Final Four, the referees made incorrect possession and foul calls that took the ball away from Wisconsin. Kentucky would have lost to Wisconsin if some of these calls were reversed.

I feel strongly that we need a referee in the stands above the players to enable him or her to see plays more clearly. I also think that coaches should be able to challenge at least 5 incorrect calls by using modern technology, such as videotape replays. If these changes are made, the NCAA Tournament will be fairer to all teams.


Originally posted on April 13, 2014


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