I've been thinking off and on the last couple of days about the ending of the Colorado game. The foul at the end was a bad call. The Colorado announcers said it was a bad call. The replays showed it was a bad call. Ultimately, the official guessed, and anticipated contact. He guessed wrong, and it was the difference in what was a great back and forth game.
Oregon has twice in the last several years won games in very similar fashion. In 2006, at Washington State, Maarty Leunen was sent to the line with no time left and Oregon down two, and hit both to send the game to overtime. While I think in that case the replay showed Leunen was fouled, it wasn't obvious enough that anyone would have complained if the official had swallowed the whitstle. Then there was two years ago, where Washington State apparently hit the game winning shot at the overtime buzzer, but was called for a technical foul with 0.3 seconds remaining for storming the court, and the Ducks hit both free throws and eventually won in double overtime. If the Leunen call was questionable, the technical with 0.3 to go was flat out criminal, a gross bit of negligence by the official that turned a game that for all intents was over. Those examples being set, at least Washington State had a chance in overtime of both of those games to overcome the bad call.
In the Oregon/Colorado game on Sunday, the call wasn't just bad official judgment in applying a technicality, it was a flat out wrong call. A phantom foul where an official guessed wrong in the one time in the game where you absolutely don't have that luxury.
On one hand, it never should have gotten to that situation. If Oregon had made a couple more free throws, another field goal, made one more stop. If Oregon had taken care of business, the game never would have gotten to that point.
On the other hand, the Ducks did what they needed to do to get the game into overtime against a good opponent on the road in a hostile environment, and that chance was taken away from them. Further, it certainly takes Oregon out of the running for the conference title, and could have big ramifications for whether Oregon gets to the NIT.
I'm not one that thinks that officials automatically need to swallow their whitstle at the end of a game. If its a foul, call a foul, but it had better be a damn obvious foul. It would be one thing if this was a one time incident, but we have here just with one team at least three instances of the referees dramatically impacting the game in the final seconds. And its not as if these were isolated incidents. Both teams were in double bonus both halves of this game despite it not being terribly physical. There were two identical offensive foul calls on Tony Woods where replay showed no contact was made, and a couple of equally bad calls went against the Buffaloes.
Despite insane rhetoric that came from some fans after the game, the officials aren't biased. That's just a dumb thing to say. But they have a long track record of not being very good at their jobs. The Pac-12 is the land of the ticky-tack foul, and it not only hampers the quality of the games in the league, but it has a direct impact on outcomes. Those of you who have been around ATQ for awhile have heard me say that the basketball officiating in this conference is far worse that the football officiating. We've seen Larry Scott take dramatic steps to fix this on the football side. Here's hoping that the basketball side will be soon to follow.