No, a loose floorboard didn't cause Armando Bacot's pivotal injury in title game
North Carolina's title hopes slipped from its grasp with 50 seconds remaining in Monday night's national championship game, when star center Armando Bacot drove, injured his right ankle, and crumpled to the floor.
In the aftermath of the play and the game, which Bacot left and Carolina lost to Kansas, 72-69, fans and media circulated replays that appeared to show the court buckling as Bacot planted his right foot.
The slight movement of the floor, though, is natural, according to sports flooring experts, and "the court's absorption characteristics are by design," according to Jeff Krejsa, a vice president at Connor Sports, the company responsible for the making and installation of Final Four courts.
"There were no loose floorboards or panels within the court, as confirmed by an expert technician who was present at every game of the Men’s Final Four to ensure the quality and safety of the floor," Krejsa told Yahoo Sports in an email Tuesday.
Armando Bacot injured his ankle on a loose floorboard.
A LOOSE FLOORBOARD AT THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. pic.twitter.com/Ion0BCqly6
— Troy Machir (@TroyMachir) April 5, 2022
The replay prompted speculation that a loose floorboard caused Bacot's injury, and criticism of the NCAA for hosting the Final Four at a football stadium, the Superdome in New Orleans. Millions of fans have since watched the video. By Tuesday morning, it had made its way to North Carolina staffers.
But it did not show anything abnormal or definitive, experts told Yahoo Sports. John Puening, a product manager at Robbins Sports Surfaces, another company that provides courts to NBA and college teams, said that "many floors are designed to have some cushion to provide force reduction and deflection properties."
"I would expect this floor to have some kind of resilient rubber pad underneath," Puening said.
The floor at the Superdome was installed by Connor Sports and local workers in late March. Its 394 panels were manufactured in Michigan, then — after sanding, sealing, painting and finishing — shipped to New Orleans for the men's Final Four.
Connor Sports also supplied the women's Final Four and NCAA tournament regionals. It says it works with over 145 Division I basketball programs, and has been the official court supplier for March Madness since 2006.
Its courts, Krejsa said, use "a panel system engineered for athlete safety and comfort, achieved by its ability to absorb impact forces as an athlete jumps or pivots abruptly, while also ensuring that other players nearby are not negatively affected."
The video essentially shows one panel absorbing the impact of a 6-foot-10, 240-pound player. Other replays showed the court flexing, albeit not as noticeably, earlier in the play.
The video does not, Puening said, give clues as to what caused Bacot's injury. Bacot had sprained the same ankle 48 hours earlier in North Carolina's semifinal victory over Duke.