Is The Officiating Bad In The NCAA Tourney This Year?

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When Chris Collins ran out on the court during Northwestern’s attempted comeback bid against Gonzaga, we all knew what was coming. 

It’s a basketball coach’s least favorite letter of the alphabet: T. 

Collins was incensed after Gonzaga wasn’t called for goaltending. A Gonzaga player reached his hand through the hoop from under the basket to prevent a bucket. It was a missed call that should’ve resulted in two points followed by two freebies at the line the other way. 

Game over, buddy. 

You could tell by the referee’s reaction a few minutes later that he wanted to dig a hole in the court and hide. That didn’t stop the criticism, which is always as much a part of March Madness as the brackets. 

Is that Exhibit A the officiating has been bad through March Madness?  

Well, I think the biggest problem has been the inconsistency. That’s keeping in mind that officiating is a subjective craft. 

In one game, they seem to let the players play. In the next, invisible hand-checks leave you wondering why the whistle was blown. 

So let’s go to the numbers. 

Turns out, officials are calling fewer penalties during the NCAA tournament than they called during the regular season.  

Fouls In College Basketball
2016-17 regular season 37.8 per game
2016-17 NCAA tourney  34.9 per game

Where this concerns bettors is the OVER went a very profitable 33-18-1 (64 percent). Over the past three seasons, the combined OVER/UNDER is 100-99-2 – almost a perfect 50-50.  By that logic, it’s reasonable to think the UNDER has to start coming in. 

I also think we’ll start seeing more fouls called, like it or not. The NCAA wants its mandate met this season, which is to call things to allow more freedom of movement. If you’re not familiar, take a look at the new rules implemented this year. 

Here’s a look at how fouls went through the first two rounds of the tournament by team: 

UCLA
11.0

South Carolina
17.5

Baylor
15.5

North Carolina
11.5

Gonzaga
15.5

West Virginia
18.5

Wisconsin
20.5

West Virginia
18.5

Butler
15.5

Xavier
18.5

Arizona
15.0

Florida
11.0

Purdue
15.0

Kentucky
13.0

Michigan
14.5

Kansas
16.5

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