National Championship refs need to be held accountable for gross end of game

North Carolina won, the Zags lost, but the biggest losers of Sunday’s National Championship game were the refs, and in turn, made loyal watchers sink into their seats with disappointment.

The entire game featured 44 fouls, 22 on each side, and 27 in the second half. 44 fouls in 40 minutes… But hey, at least they were fair. And what makes all of these fouls worse, college rules disqualify players after 5 fouls.

What was the plan for the refs coming into the game? “Let’s call a bunch of fouls so we can stop the game and have fans really on the edge of their seat.” No. There was zero flow to the second half, and it ruined an interesting game.

Arguably the hottest player in the game, Zach Collins for Gonzaga, fouled out with 5 minutes to play. Other star players were playing with 4 fouls, which makes them play differently. There was an obvious hesitation to be aggressive and make plays. Soft basketball is bad basketball, and stars like Justin Jackson, Peter Karnowski, and others were limited in their play.

The main message to the refs: swallow your whistles. Let the kids play and decide the outcome. Call the necessary fouls, and don’t you dare change the outcome of the game.

Twitter was furious with the refs too. LeBron James (maybe he shouldn’t be talking about bad refs) and Dwayne Wade tweeted about watching the second half.

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See @NCAA!! Normal fans aren’t the only ones who care about how the game is being played. We deserve better.

This call had me going bananas.

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These calls, man. Unless the kid is on the ground from an intentional elbow, there is no reason to call this. Let the kids battle for position. Teams weight lift during the season for this reason. The stronger player will get better position.

The overall game was great. A close game all the way until the end, and that’s all a fan can ask for in a championship game. It’s just too bad the players did more standing around than trying to win.

Gonzaga, Baylor, Duke fall, where do they stand?

As we inch closer towards March, we’re bound to see some wacky weekends full of upsets, and this was one of those weekends.

BYU defeats Gonzaga on Saturday // AP

First, Gonzaga received their first loss thanks to BYU, who have defeated the Bulldogs while they were ranked in each of the last three years. But with wins over #4 Arizona, #13 Florida, Iowa State, and two wins over conference rival #20 Saint Mary’s, the Zags shouldn’t be worried about losing their #1 seed come tournament time.

Baylor now has lost 5 out of their last 8 games, and their inconsistent play around likely Wooden Award finalist Johnathan Motley has crippled their chances of being taken seriously in March. Their schedule doesn’t get much easier either. The Bears will be heading to Morgantown to face #10 West Virginia. Adding to the challenge, Baylor will be without point guard Manu Lecomte, so good luck trying to beat Coach Huggin’s press in that environment.

I’m still waiting for Coach K to kick his team into gear. They have to, right? They better, or my bracket will be destroyed. They have so much talent on this team, but from what I’ve seen, they don’t feed off of each other well, and the stunt in Harry Gile’s development isn’t working in The Blue Devil’s favor. In recent years, Coach K has done well when he has elite big men at his disposal (Jahlil Okafor), and has had early exits in March when he’s forced to play small ball (Jabari Parker vs. Mercer). I’m praying Duke gets it together and makes a deep tournament run, because college basketball is better when everyone hated Duke for being too good. And really, who wants to see this?

Frank Mason, Lonzo Ball Highlight Men’s College Basketball National Player of the Year Rankings

Lonzo Ball // AP
Lonzo Ball // AP

The 2016-21017 college basketball season has loads of talent. Even more than past years. Last year, it was Buddy Hield running away with the award towards the end of the season, then a two horse race in 2015 with Frank Kaminski and Jahlil Okafor.

This year? There are 5 or 6 players who could easily have a hot February and March and steal the title.

Here’s my front-runner list and why you should be watching them as March Madness creeps up on the calendar.

1. Frank Mason III – PG, Kansas

Remember how vital Perry Ellis was to last years’ Kansas team? And the year before that… And the year before that… (Yes he finally graduated) He was the rock to those teams. When Andrew Wiggins struggled in big games in 2014, or if the Jayhawks needed a bucket during a tough stretch, Perry was there. Mason has taken this role and has elevated this Kansas team to new heights, scoring more points per game than any other Kansas player under coach Bill Self.

Mason has made the game easier for his teammates, especially down the stretch of games. In a game vs. Texas Tech this year, Mason drew attention to the ball in the second half, giving super talented freshman and future top-5 pick Josh Jackson easier looks.

Take a look at his highlights and expect to watch him lead Kansas deep into the bracket.

2. Josh Hart – Villanova, G

Hart was Villanova’s most consistent player last year during their championship run and was overshadowed by the play of point guard Ryan Arcidiacono and “the shot” by Kris Jenkins.

In the most Villanova way to describe a player, he’s a prototypical two-way playmaker who finds his way to the basket and like Mason, is consistent and will push his team to a win. Villanova hasn’t seen much competition this year, so we’ll get to see exactly how good Hart is when tournament time comes around, and that’s why I give the edge to Mason, who plays in a deep Big 12.

3. Caleb Swanigan – Purdue, F

In his sophomore campaign, Swanigan may be the most improved player on this list. After watching former teammate AJ Hammonds make it to the NBA, Swanigan got in shape and improved his game, boasting 22 double doubles.

Swanigan may be the most dominant player in college basketball this year, being elite in rebounding and scoring with his back to the basket (Duke Jahlil Okafor anyone?), but…he plays for Purdue. Let’s see what he can do on the big stage.

4. Lonzo Ball – UCLA, PG

Lonzo has lived up to the hype. Despite seeing his little brother LaMelo cherrypick his way to 92 points and his outrageous dad claiming he is the second coming of MJ, Ball has BALLED in his one-and-done year. His 6’6″ lanky frame allows him to see the court like CP3 and shoot over defenders like KD (One of the few comparisons I will make).

Ball has the chance to be special and will be a top-3 pick this upcoming draft. His confidence and IQ puts him ahead of other talented guards and will translate well into late March. Don’t be surprised if his stock skyrockets after a few dominant games in the Pac-12 tourney.

(Recommendation: Don’t pay attention to his horrendous shooting form)

5. Nigel Williams-Goss – Gonzaga, G

The classic best player on the best team. Gonzaga being the best team may be a stretch, but they’re undefeated and have a bunch of talent, so hey, Williams-Goss deserves hit. Not the flashiest player on the court, but he really does everything.

Transferring from Washington to get away from the Markelle Fultz hype, he leads his team in points, assists, and rebounds for the undefeated Zags. Shooting a smooth 50.5% from the field, he has a chance to climb up the rankings.

Truthfully, this happens every year. Gonzaga has some great player that everyone falls in love with, then loses when a team other than BYU can lock up defensively. Speaking of BYU, if Williams-Goss is calling out Michael Wilbon in a postgame interview after a win vs. BYU to “shut up the haters”, you deserve to lose in the first week in March.

Honorable Mentions:

Markelle Fultz – Washington, PG, Johnathan Motley – Baylor, F, Sindarius Thornwell – South Carolina, G, Malik Monk – Kentuck