Does the difference between B1G and NCAA tournament officiating help Michigan in March?

Submitted by stephenrjking on February 9th, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Another game, another series of questionable calls, another torrent of frustration on the MgoBoard. 

The B1G is the best conference in basketball this year, but one thing appears to be the same this year as every year: B1G officials let a lot of physical play go, and the games are tough as a result.

In past seasons the question has been asked, "Does this hurt Big Ten teams in the tournament?" The logic being that the NCAA tournament is not called the same way the B1G regular season is. I don't think the contrast in officiating has changed much, but there is one thing that has:

I wonder if Michigan, as it is built this year, is better-suited to winning in the NCAA tournament than in its own conference. As we've progressed into the meat of the conference season, Michigan continues to be good at shooting 3s and moving the ball in transition, but as B1G teams bog games down into half-court grindfests and officials allow muggings underneath the basket, Michigan's penetration offense has become significantly less substantial. 

In the tournament, Michigan's ability to stay out of foul trouble will be a big plus, and defenders won't get away with handchecking Burke and mauling our frontcourt. All of the adjustments other B1G teams have to make are ones that come naturally to this club. Won't this play to Michigan's strengths when the games really matter?



February 9th, 2013 at 3:00 PM ^

I have thought this for months.  I think if we can avoid Big Ten style officiating (though frankly, it's catching on, particularly in the Big East) we're in the Final Four.  If we can get a nice streak of ACC refs, we can win the title.


February 9th, 2013 at 3:02 PM ^

What frustates me is that even at home we are not getting a great whistle. Two of three egregious calls/no-calls by the zebras on Tuesday went against us (the not called flagrant and Craft's 3 which was way after the shot clock buzzer and never overturned). Not being a conspiracy nut, I just want everything at Crisler if we are going to get the typical road nonsense from these guys which we have so far.

And to answer the original question - yes, it helps. Neutral games will be a great thing for Michigan.



February 9th, 2013 at 3:38 PM ^

If we want home cooking, it's up to our fans to create a loud enough environment to sway the officials.  Even in the OSU game, I felt that the crowd was not that into it for long stretches.  It was fairly quiet when OSU opened up that eight-point lead.  The crowd did become very noisy down the stretch, and we got the two no-calls on their last two possessions.

It seems like the Maize Rage isn't as well-organized as some other student sections.  When the other team has the ball, only some of the students jump up and down and make noise.  It's like some of our students are too bashful to be vocal.  (Are they afraid of being gif'd on this website?)



February 9th, 2013 at 3:04 PM ^

on neutral court it usually benefits the more talented teams. I still think this UM team had just as much talent as anybody, so it should work to their advantage.

I will say they need to tighten up their defense, rebounding, and shot selection before March if they want to make a Final Four run.


February 9th, 2013 at 3:05 PM ^

That the NCAA Tournament officiating is a horrific wake-up call to Big Ten teams that thrive on the Big Ten officiating. How many Final Fours has Wisconsin been to under Ryan? How many times have they finished near the top of the standings?


February 9th, 2013 at 3:38 PM ^

They went to the Sweet 16 last year before losing to the Number 1 seed by one point. 


The year before that they lost to Butler in the Sweet 16.  MSU routinely does better in the tournament because they manhandle people in the tournament. The Big Ten is tough, we lost because of a halfcourt shot and missed layups, not because of the refs.


February 9th, 2013 at 3:06 PM ^

A few reasons:
1. MSU and OSU have reached final four multiple times over the last decade
2. Kansas has been finalist 2x in last 5 years and Self's teams play B1G style
3. Big East has similar style with full muggings and they are fine in March
4. Most importantly, the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games can get very rough between 2 good, determined teams

We need toughness and the ability to grind out tough wins.


February 9th, 2013 at 6:54 PM ^

More than anyone. And nobody is more physical than MSU.i don't know where this idea that they call the Tournament tighter came from. If anything, it's an advantage to the Big Ten. It's easier to adjust to a tightly called game; you just play basketball. If you're not used to getting jostled around and they're letting people play, it's tougher. And they're never going to call everything, so it always favors the more aggressive team.


February 9th, 2013 at 3:09 PM ^

Our team is as tough as others.  I just want to see a mesh of ticky tack to shoving in the big ten.  They either call call way too many fouls or let people mug each other to the point where they can't get the ball in the rim.


February 9th, 2013 at 3:35 PM ^

young and built for finesse. Burke, Stauskas and GRob are lean guys and not able to muscle when the game gets rough, yet.

Our style is more Big 12 or ACC than B1G meat grinder and no one ever describes our play as "rough and ugly", but we better buckle up if we want to win the B1G.


February 9th, 2013 at 3:38 PM ^

He was one player as is McGary/Morgan.

How often has JB had McGary/Morgan on the floor at the same time.

Look at Izzo and how he approaches  the game.

How many "physical" players does JB recruit and/or play at the same time.

In regards to Novak:  He was tough.  He was always giving up 30 lbs and 5 inches which means he was beaten up but stuck to it.  If he was guarding a 2/3 position player instead of primarily a 4 it would be different.




February 9th, 2013 at 4:16 PM ^

There is more than one way to coach a basketball team.  Izzo will play two posts come hell or high water.  Beilein will play four guys with the ability to stretch the defense.  They're different philosophies, but both coaches have been very successful using them.  We might note as well that Beilein has won three of the last four meetings between the two.

Speaking of Morgan, I think people are seriously underrating his absence.  He's our best interior defender (and certainly our best at hedging screens) and also has the best low-post moves on the team.  We've been playing the meat of our schedule without our starting center. That's a significant handicap.  McGary is coming on, but he can't play 40 minutes a night.  Morgan/McGary is a much better center duo than McGary/Horford.  With Morgan, we'd have probably won today, and possibly against IU.







February 9th, 2013 at 3:33 PM ^

For everyone freaking out, Michigan is still the odds on favorite to WIN the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!!

History tells us those Vegas guys know what they're doing. Remember where the basketball program was 2 years ago, 3 years ago, last year?

This is what Wisconsin does. They were a 2 point underdog today - the Kohl Center is full of whimsical basketball shot making fairies. Relax.


February 9th, 2013 at 3:33 PM ^

I was thinking that it would help us during OT, but then I watched the beginning of UNC and The U and I felt the officials let them play through 3 early fouls. HS Bball in Ohio is trending the way of " let them play" as well. I hate it, as it uglies up the game and penalizes aestetichally pleasing bball so that less talented or more poorly coached teams can compete.


February 9th, 2013 at 3:34 PM ^

There actually aren't any conference officials in basketball.  There are just NCAA officials.  These same referees work games in other conferences.  

I think the issue is more that college basketball officials aren't as good at tuning out the home crowd as NBA officials are, and that our conference happens to have a lot of raucous venues. In the tournament, in front of neutral crowds, the games aren't going to be called as one-sided.



February 9th, 2013 at 3:53 PM ^

B1G has a fairly consistent set of guys who officiate. Kitts, Valentine, Boroski, Eades - they're already at double digit games this year.

These guys do more than just B1G, but they are influenced by the feedback and the games they get assigned. Conferences "encourage" a style of play in various direct and indirect actions.

The NCAA does less to "encourage" a specific style as you describe above.

We just need to be ready if the style turns physical, like a tourney game against Louisville or Kansas.


February 9th, 2013 at 3:40 PM ^

The one thing I would question is how much our ability to avoid foul trouble is related to the B1G refs. It's conceivable that some of the reason why we pick up so few fouls has to do with the refereeing. I don't think this will be too much of an issue because 1. Our generally less physical style of play means we'll have less of a dropoff than other Big Ten teams and 2. Going down a bit from having the 4th fewest (or whatever the rank is) fouls won't hurt us that much.

So I would agree that the switch will benefit us but, beyond opening up the offense, it might force us into some tactical changes on the defensive end.


February 9th, 2013 at 3:41 PM ^

There may not be strictly BIG 10 officials, but the officials that ref BIG games don't generally travel out of the region. Terry Wymer did both OSU-UM games and almost every Buckeye game according to their fans. From same area as Aaron Craft and they refer to him as their 6th man.


February 9th, 2013 at 3:54 PM ^

Michigan's defensive style is to stay in front and not foul.  This works against us in Big Ten play because teams are not penalized properly for all the clutching, grabbing and bumping.  Since we don't do this as much as other Big Ten teams, we don't benefit at home, and are at a big disadvantage on the road.

In the tourney, one would hope our style will be an advantage.  It will do two things for us - one, it will open our offense back up so we can get guys like Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III major involvement again.  Two, we won't have to adjust our defenses for the style of officiating we're facing.  Foulfest teams like Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State will have to figure out how to play *real* defense, and to get *real* position on rebounds.  A much more difficult task than we will face (I think this has been hurting the Big Ten for a while now, actually).

My problem is that we've dropped at least two games where I think style of officiating might have mattered, and are likely to drop another at MSU this coming week.  We *probably* win these if we are able to play our game and they are penalized properly for playing theirs.  These losses could keep us from getting the number one seed we would easily get if we were in, say, the ACC.  That number one seed gives us a much easier path to a final four.  Unlike others, I'm not so sure the BIG is going to get more than one top seed.


February 9th, 2013 at 4:18 PM ^

Will the different set of officials help our bigs make 2 ft shots & layups in the March?  If so then yes, they'll help a lot.

You know I bitch as loudly as anybody about the B1G officiating bias - especially at Assembly Hall - but the facts are we left a shit-ton of points out there by repeatidly missing bunnies at point blank range.  The handful of calls that admidtidly all went against don't mean squat if our bigs can knock down short range shots and Stauskas gets his stroke back.  


February 9th, 2013 at 4:23 PM ^

Everyone here hates Jay Bilas (rightfully so) but he has pointed out that the officials are part of the reason to blame for some of the play in college basketball. They let way too much go and don't allow the game to be played as it was meant to. Not only are they not following the rules, no one wants to watch Wisconsin play thug ball and make the game as boring as possible. It's sad and pathetic.


February 9th, 2013 at 4:26 PM ^

There are a lot less ticky tack calls in March. Whether that helps or hurts Michigan, i don't know, but it makes the game a lot more fun to watch. 


Sidenote: there are no such things as "big ten refs". Hightower, Valentine, etc ref for other conferences too, and you will see them in March as well. 


February 9th, 2013 at 4:49 PM ^

tack calls not being made though, the missed calls on Wisconson were flat out hacks near the rim. Letting ticky tack hand checks and whatnot on the perimeter go is one thing, but hacks near the basket not being called is a different story. That is what was so frustrating about this game, Michigan was attacking the basket for much of the game, and was promptly rewarded with two free throws the entire game. Wisky jacked up three pointers for the most part, but still got  to the line 10 times. In the NCAA tournament hacks near the basket seem to be called a little more consistently, regardless of whether the ticky tac fouls are being called.

Anytime you take out the home court advantage element of the officiating, and call a more fair game, that should favor the more talented teams 


February 9th, 2013 at 5:46 PM ^

complaints about the Stauskas hacking won't get answered in the NCAA - they let the guys play a little more away from the rim.

The more pertinent complaints regard the fouls at the rim, which should go in our favor in March.

Still, our rebounding and ball handling have to be ready for the "play on" no calls.  We have the talent to win it all if we play smart and tough.


February 9th, 2013 at 4:54 PM ^

I'd like to think so but remember that #1 seeds are always rooted against by every other fan in attendance so while the game will be played on a neutral court the cheering will be anything be neutral.  And I've learned anything watching basketall for the past 45 years or so it's that officials LOVE TO BE CHEERED as much as any of the players on the court.  So 50-50 calls always, always, always go to the side that generates the most applause.

So dont be so sure the officiating is going to be any big help come March.


February 9th, 2013 at 5:39 PM ^

...then watched us get abused by Blake Griffin. (And no I am not complaining about the just wasn't what I expected.)


February 9th, 2013 at 5:42 PM ^

I think the issue is not that they let a lot of fouls caused by physical play go uncalled, it's their inconsistent officiating. And it's not just inconsistent during a single game, but from crew to crew. What's called a foul one time, isn't necessarily called the same way if it occurs again. I can only hope this will help Big Ten schools come tourney time, because no team will have had a chance to get set in their ways on how they adjust their play to a certain reffing style. We shall see. Regardless, I hate Big Ten refs.