NCAA men’s basketball has come to a close. Now fans and media will have time to reflect on the way that March Madness played out.
Not surprisingly, officiating could be a topic of debate about March Madness. It is natural. Fans are bound to disagree when a call does not go their way.
One call in particular might have angered fans, especially if they were rooting for the tournament’s Cinderella team, ninth-seeded Wichita State Shockers, to shock the world and upset Louisville in their matchup in the Final Four.
Despite dominating most of the game, Wichita State had a turnover-riddled end to the second half, turning the ball over to Louisville multiple times in the game’s final minutes, which was certainly a contributing factor in its heartbreaking 72-68 loss to Louisville.
Though the turnovers didn’t help Wichita State’s cause, it was a scramble for a missed foul shot by Louisville with less than 10 seconds remaining in a one-possession game when a questionable jump-ball foul was called. The possession arrow was in favor of Louisville at the time the foul was called. As a result, Louisville was given the ball, essentially putting the nail in the Shockers’ coffin, ending their chances at a national championship berth.
While a questionable jump-ball foul probably should not have been called in this situation, what I am truly angry about here is the way a jump-ball foul is called. The name alone is contradictory. It is referred to as a jump-ball foul, but there is no actual jumping for the ball. When the foul is called, the ball goes to the team with the possession arrow in its favor.
The question I have is: Why is there even a possession arrow in the first place? At the start of every game, two centers jump for the ball to see who gets the first possession of the game, but after that first jump ball, all other possession-related disputes are decided by the possession arrow, which alternates back and forth between the teams for the rest of the game.
If there is a jump ball to start the game, why is there not an actual jump ball for all change of jump-ball fouls? Why do they defer the decision to the possession arrow instead of jumping for the ball like they do in the NBA?
The Wichita State vs. Louisville game is just one of numerous prime examples when we see a single jump-ball foul as a deciding factor in the outcome of a game. If the NCAA used the rules of the NBA and that foul actually resulted in a true jump ball, Wichita State would have had a chance to win the jump ball, and maybe even tie the game. Instead, the possession arrow awarded Louisville the ball and essentially the game as well.
There is no guarantee that having a jump ball in that situation would have changed the outcome for Wichita State, but it certainly would have given the team a chance.
The solution is simple: Just do as the NBA does. Eliminate the possession arrow completely, and have all jump-ball fouls have a jump ball for possession. It is a fair, yet easy solution to give both teams an equal chance to earn possession.
Christopher Miller is a freshman studying broadcast journalism and sport management and a columnist for The Post. Should the NCAA get rid of the possession arrow? Email Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org.