The officials at the NCAA tournament’s national title game between North Carolina and Gonzaga have been under heavy criticism all Monday night. There have been more than 40 fouls called as of this moment late in the second half, and people are angry.
Foul trouble has marred the second half of the title game. In the final 10 minutes, Gonzaga had three big men playing with four fouls. (In the college game, five is a disqualification.) Przemek Karnowski, Zach Collins, and Johnathan Williams all had to tread carefully for a long time on the Gonzaga side. North Carolina center Kennedy Meeks picked up a dubious fourth foul with 9:42 left on the clock, too.
This cut pretty deeply into the quality of the game. Both the Heels and Zags are built from the inside out, and the heavy accumulation of fouls — several of which looked soft on replay — made their interior stars lethargic. If you’re worried about a foul-out with seven or eight minutes left, you can’t be as aggressive as you’d prefer. The quality of play can’t be as high as it otherwise could be. It made the game worse.
The fifth foul on Collins, who’d been Gonzaga’s most effective big man, came with 5:03 left to play. He was whistled as he jockeyed with Meeks. Collins probably should have been more careful, but this wasn’t a clear foul.
His fourth was dubious, too.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were among the many people on Twitter who grew upset with the liberal officiating.
Man I can’t watch this anymore man! I would like to see the kids decide who wins the game! I mean Bruh!! Smh
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 4, 2017
Let these kids play. Put the whistles away.
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) April 4, 2017
There have also been outright missed calls that aren’t really a matter of interpretation. After Gonzaga’s Jordan Mathews cleanly air-balled a three-pointer late in the second half, officials awarded the Zags possession. The ball had gone out of bounds, and the referees ruled the Heels had deflected it. But clearly, they didn’t.
Poor officiating is a part of sports sometimes. Human error can’t be entirely worked out of college basketball, but you don’t like to see it in the biggest moments of the year.