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Bet on NCAABDid you see the end of the Rutgers-St. John's game last night? It was an instructive game, showing how referees can unbelievably screw up a game in the last few seconds of a game. While innumerable teams have complained about calls or lack of calls in the final seconds of games, last night's incompetently officiated games was especially egregious.

With the game at 65-63 and St. John's winning, Rutgers had possession of the ball in the back court. A wild pass was made past half court, which resulted in a turnover. But then, thinking the game was over, St. John's player Justin Brownlee committed two distinct violations that should have resulted in a turnover and Rutgers possession.

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First, after grabbing the ball in an interception, Brownlee traveled on his way to stepping out of bounds. He traveled with about 2.0 seconds left on the clock, then stepped out of bounds no later than 1.7 seconds left. So where were the officials to blow the whistle and stop the game? They were nowhere to be found, letting the last couple seconds expire and then stomping off the court as quickly as possible.

There were at least four different calls that could have been made. First, a foul on the inbound pass could have been called. Next, the travel with time left on the clock certainly should have been called. And walking with the ball out of bounds warrants a whistle, right? Finally, Brownlee threw the game ball 15 rows into the crowd, which could have been a technical.

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Although the foul and the technical were questionable, the traveling violation and the out-of-bounds call were easy and obvious violations. Calling either of them would have resulted in one final Rutgers possession, which would have given them another second and a half to tie or win the game. But the refs handed the game over to St. John's, giving the win a big asterisk for “with an assist from the refs.”

NCAA Commissioner John Marinatto released a statement from the Big East which acknowledged the two missed calls, and the three officials have withdrawn from officiating any other games during this tournament. Three three refs were Jim Burr, Tim Higgins, and Earl Walton. NCAA National Coordinator of Men's Basketball Officiating stated, “Not officiating to the end of a game is unacceptable.”


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