Illini fans complained A LOT about the officiating of the center match-up between UNC big man Sean May and Illinois post James Augustine in the 2005 national title game, but a critical call going against their favor with 40 seconds left tonight was probably much worse. In a one possession game with under a minute left, Miami was awarded an out of bounds call. However, the replay clearly showed it should have been Illini basketball. But the NCAA doesn’t review out of bounds calls.
Even a Miami player admitted it, after his team advanced, beating Illinois 63-59.
It is tough when the outcome of the game is out of the player's hands and in the refs hands. Not even college basketball experts pick the right winner in these games. The Illini will have to come back stronger next year to hopefully win it all.
Illini fans were LIVID about this on Twitter, and even Miami fans were tweeting that Illinois got jobbed on the call. It turned the tide in crunch time. It was a simple black-or-white missed call at a crucial moment, while the ’05 title game had a series of questionable calls that favored Carolina and went against Illinois. These calls started in the early minutes. Augustine fouled out of that game after just nine minutes played while May looked like Shaquille O’Neal for a night (slightly aided by the referees, some in Illini Nation might say) May and Augustine were both college star; both were drafted but neither amounted to anything in the NBA.
Maybe it’s comparing apples to oranges, but both are still tough breaks eliminating the Illini from the NCAA Tournament.
Check out this tweet from Tribune Illini beat reporter Shannon Ryan:
Was told Miami's Julian Gamble said in the locker room that the ball went off teammate Kenny Kadji on the blown call.Looked like it.
— Shannon Ryan (@sryantribune) March 25, 2013
Gloria Estefan isn't the only "Miami sound machine." Groce took the high road in responding to a question about the critical in-bounds call when the Illini were down 57-55:
"You saw the same video that I did. Those guys did a good job though. They did. It's a hard game to officiate, it's both teams physical, both teams desiring the same thing. 50/50 calls are hard sometimes. That's how he saw the play in life speed, and certainly respect him and respect the call that he made," Groce said.
The Illini are 29-14 in the NCAA Tournament when seeded higher than their opponent. However, the Illini are 2-10 in the Tournament when seeded lower than their opponent. D.J. Richardson ended his career rather poorly, going 1-11 from the field and finishing with five points. Brandon Paul led the Illini with 19 points. He was very effective in taking it to the hole, but he also struggled from the perimeter, going 2-9 from three. As a team the Illini really struggled behind the arc as they made only 25% of their threes.
And now Illini and DePaul fans have this in common: being severely hurt by Shane Larkin. The Miami guard hit a “dagger” three down the stretch to give the ‘Canes the lead for good. He finished with 17 points and 5 assists to help eliminate the Illini. Larkin originally committed to and even enrolled at DePaul, but had to transfer closer to home due to a medical condition.
Illinois basketball has beaten a higher seed only twice in school history. And both of those wins, were "mild upsets." Their opponent was just one seed higher. The Illini have still never really pulled off a "real big upset" or "bracket buster" since NCAA seeding began in 1978.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an author and regular contributor to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker. Banks has appeared on Comcast SportsNet and the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@PaulMBanks)
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