Officials have always been a part of NCAA tournament banter because of bad or controversial calls, but during Thursday's first round game between Louisville and Morehead State, the officials deserved credit for keeping their whistles in their pockets.
With a second left and a chance to win the game, Louisville's Mike Marra pulled up from 3-point range and tried to shoot over the outstretched arms of Morehead State forward Kenneth Faried. Faried didn't move. His arms were straight up in the air. Marra's shot hit Faried's hands. Marra fell to the court as Faried backpedaled. There was a second of hesitation and anticipation as Marra, Faried and everyone else looked at the officials for a call.
The officials jogged off the court, Morehead State celebrated and those watching on TV and in studio were left to question whether Faried had in fact fouled Marra to end the game.
Of course the immediate thinking was yes. Bill Raftery, who was calling the game, even yelled out, "Foul, wow," when Marra hit the court.
However, while those whose brackets busted because of the no call were no doubt screaming and cursing, a second look of the play revealed that Faried had position and that no call was the right call.
"How about the presence of mind not to crash into Marra on that play, but to actually stop and get his arms into the air where his height advantage could take over," CBS analyst Seth Davis said of Faried's play. "Then the agility with his hands to get his hands on the basketball. He did everything but foul the kid. Bill Rafferty and the four of us sitting here watching the play in real time thought it was a foul. But you look at those replays, give those referees credit. We get on them when they get it wrong, but they got it right. That was a great no-call."
Obviously, with everything happening so quickly, it's easy to see why many would have thought it was a foul, especially with Marra on the ground and Faried backpedaling. And in this day and age where we see many officials predict fouls before they actually happen, those officials made the right call to watch the entire play unfold.
"So oftentimes, an official is going to anticipate that call," Davis said. "And the fact that they waited to see what the play actually was and they got it right, that was one of the best no-calls I've seen in a long time."
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