Will B1G teams be at a disadvantage in the tournament with non-B1G officials?

Submitted by Roy G. Biv on March 3rd, 2013 at 10:15 PM
It's a concern, I don't have any facts to back it up. So many muggings go uncalled in B1G play and officiating seems so inconsistent. The two teams I would guess most affected are MSU and OSU. Sparty plays physical D my rugby club would be proud of, and so does OSU. Plus I don't think refs from other conferences will allow Craft to saddle up opposing PGs like they do in the B1G.


814 East U

March 3rd, 2013 at 10:20 PM ^

I honestly believe fouls/officiating even out for the most part during the course of a game. It seemed like we got every call to start the 2nd half but yet State was in the double bonus before us.


March 3rd, 2013 at 10:21 PM ^

I think this all evens out.  If there was any truth to your hunch, it'd benefit offensive-minded teams with free-flowing offenses (IU, UM) as much as it would hurt other B1G teams, I would think.


March 3rd, 2013 at 10:21 PM ^

I tend to think that what teams/players get away with is like 40% reputation, 15% crowd influence, 10% game situation influence, and 35% actual rules of basketball.

MSU and OSU have a reputation as defensive squads so I think will get away with some of the same stuff.

Roy G. Biv

March 3rd, 2013 at 10:36 PM ^

That is an interesting point. Maybe it is because I don't watch other conferences as much that I don't see it there. I wonder, though, if for example the B1G and P12 and ACC are geographically separated enough that there is no overlap in officials working the games that distinct styles/patterns emerge. Just speculating.


March 3rd, 2013 at 10:29 PM ^

But there aren't really B1G officials. They do games all over the country.

So no, I think it's overblown. And it's easier to adjust to not playing physical than a game where they're letting people play.


March 3rd, 2013 at 10:30 PM ^

Sparty thugs it up every year and Craft and Sulligener got away with a lot as well. Wisconsin has gone on a couple streaks in the tourny too.

The refs won't be the problem. Turnovers, lack of D, rebounding and or cold shooting will kill any team regardless of the officials.


March 3rd, 2013 at 10:33 PM ^

Somebody can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that NCAA basketball refs are not exclusive to any conference.  Thus, there would not be a difference between "B1G refs" and refs that call games in the tournament. 

If anything will impact the B1G it could be the less physical style of play in other conferences.  When both teams do it, some of it has to get through or else everybody will foul out.  When only one team does it, you'd think the refs will see one team as committing more fouls.


March 3rd, 2013 at 10:42 PM ^

I know you are wrong.  While all refs are NCAA sanctioned refs, the Big Ten has a select group of refs that officiate every Big Ten game during the Big Ten season and Tournament.  These refs also officiate various Big Ten games during the nonconference season.  During the NCAA tournament, these refs will be assigned to various NCAA tourney games, although never involving a Big Ten team.  This is true for all conferences and all NCAA sports.


March 3rd, 2013 at 11:09 PM ^

This is simply not true. Let's take a look at Ted Valentine's season:


He's worked 16 B10 games, 10 SEC games, 5 SoCon, 3 SWAC, 2 A10, 2 Sunbelt, 2 ACC, and 1 MAC game.

The Big Ten has an assigner or officials coordinator who assigns his referees to B10 games, but those referees are independent contractors. They can, and do, work for other assigners in other conferences when they have open dates.

Valentine's career:


As for the tournament:

The 98 officials selected for the N.C.A.A. tournament are randomly assigned

The author leaves out that he's referring to the first round. There's too much logistically to sort out to avoid conflicts. It's not like football where you have a small number of crews and an even smaller number of games to deal with.


March 3rd, 2013 at 11:10 PM ^

Tom from AA beat me to the point, but to summarize:  (1) basketball officials are independent contractors.  They do not "belong" to a conference, but will accept assignments from many different conferences throughout the year.  They take assignments that they want, and turn down assignments that they don't want.  This is the opposite of football officials, who belong to conference officiating staffs and are mostly not permitted to work in other conferences.  (2) The NCAA makes an effort to avoid "familiar" officials in the tournament, but with this setup they obviously can't always do it.  The 2007 South Regional final between Georgetown and Ohio State was officiated by Ted Valentine, for example.




March 3rd, 2013 at 10:42 PM ^

imagine how well we can play when all the hand checking, holding, and other defensive bullshit are called?

I'm of the belief that Michigan will benefit from having fought through the big ten. I 'd imagine the shooters will feel much more free in the tournament



March 3rd, 2013 at 10:46 PM ^

They get away with a ton of staff with regards to physicality. They always do well in B1G because the ref let them get away with it. Come NCAA tourney, they get high seed and get upset by lower seed teams like Cornell, Bucknell, etc. When they get whistled for things they get away, they don't play as physical and they don't do well. There is a reason why they struggled in non-conference games.


March 4th, 2013 at 1:40 AM ^

Eh, hpyothetically this all seems it would make sense.  However, this isn't the first year that the Big Ten has been a physical conference, it's been this way for years, and Wisconsin was 1 point away from going to the Elite 8 last year (which would have been against Ohio St. and guaranteed a Big Ten team in the Final Four, which OSU made anyway).


March 3rd, 2013 at 10:49 PM ^

Home court advantage is a huge deal to teams strengths from what I have watched.  So when you play at msu or osu it's going to be a physically played game and refs let more things go.  Msu and osu were riding our offensive players and that is something that gets called in a tourney game......

Michigan, Indiana tend to be more offensive and the calles tend to favor that style for these teams when at home.  I think it's why pennst got a win, they played our boys tough in a2 physically to nock our boys off their shooting....in happy valley they got away with even more they wouldnt in a2 or in a tourney..

Biggest thing is play aggressive no matter what the refs are calling.  Be aggressive offensively since they are an offensive team, and keep the defense active bigtime....The most aggressive team under control gets the calls.........That is why duke seeming owns officials but they play under control but ultra aggresive...  


March 3rd, 2013 at 10:51 PM ^

I've been saying this with my friends for a while. It should help us though, as long as we keep getting wins so we are there mentally come tourney time.


March 3rd, 2013 at 10:53 PM ^

I mean were not exactly getting good officiating right now...I hear what you're saying, but at this point I would love some non big ten officials for a game. Or just anyone other than valentine. He's a terrible official


March 3rd, 2013 at 10:56 PM ^

Big Ten teams have done well in the tourney over the past decade, even if we haven't managed to win it all.  There's been a Big Ten team in the Final Four practically every year, so officiating doesn't seem to be a handicap.  Anyhow, some of our "favorite" officials (Hightower, Valentine) work the tourney, often all the way to the Final Four.




March 3rd, 2013 at 11:14 PM ^

MSU folk saying Burke wouldn't be capable of half his offensive prowess if it weren't for B10 refs. I guess they didnt watch any preseason games. Then again, they also think Albrecht is our only PG ft next year.


March 3rd, 2013 at 11:22 PM ^

Wisconsin is the most affected, like every year under Bo Ryan.  Craft's reputation is national, so he'll still get calls and Izzo is Izzo.  If anything, I figure Indiana and us will be helped.

God knows how Illinois or Minnesota feel like playing on any given day, so with them it's impossible to say.


March 4th, 2013 at 1:06 PM ^

Because of the lack of athletes.  It's not playing rough or fast, it's being able to play both. Schools like OSU and MSU play physical, but if it's a tightly called game have the talent to play a track meet too. And the think is in the Tourney, you're not going to get only one style of game called. So you have to be able to do both. And normally I think that favors the physical, because it's easier to pull off and not bump so much and let the game flow than it is to adjust to being clutched and grabbed and bumped on shots when you're not used to it.  MSU and and Ohio have the horses to deal with it, Wisconsin doesn't unless they're letting them play. So after a certain amount of games you're due for a crew that's going to call everything tight. 

At least for Michigan, while they can't really bang and play that way, coming out of the Big Ten they're used to it so they won't be surprised by some other team they run into that gets overly physical.


March 4th, 2013 at 9:45 AM ^

A lot of people are posting the "There are no B1G referees, only NCAA [Division 1] referees" comment. On its face this is true, but it partly misses the point. While it is true that the guys who do B1G games do other conference games as well, it's not like there is a random massive pool of nationwide refs from which the B1G game assigments are drawn and all of the individual differences cancel out. Most refs work primarily within just a few conferences and usually that is based on either the top conferences (B1G, ACC, Big East) or it is based on geography (B1G, MAC, Horizon). The B1G scheduling coordinator seeks out certain refs who they perceive to be good. Secondly, many refs actually have a primary conference that they declare. The way that works is that refs pick a primary conference who gets to schedule them as much as the league wants and in exchange they get more $ for being responsive to the league's scheduling needs and the convenience of already getting a chunk of games scheduled in one geograpic region.


There are 18 games/team *12 teams * 3 referees divided by 2 teams per game = 324 referee assignments per season (ignoring BTT). Last year there were 9 men who did 168 of those 324 assignments or 52% of all ref assignments. See: http://statsheet.com/mcb/conferences/big-ten/referees?season=2011-2012.  All sorts of great data on refs on that site by the way. When people talk about B1G refs they are talking about the style of those particular refs who are popping up at a lot of B1G games. TV Ted is just one guy but he was in about 22% of the conference's games last year. See that link above but Mike Kitts, TV Ted, Terry Wymer, Mike Sanzere and Ed Hightower did 1/3 of the refs assignments in the regular season. Just five guys. So yeah, there are not B1G exclusive officials but there are a fairly small group of officials who do B1G games a lot and make up a good % of the refereeing.  Now, whether those particular guys who do the B1G currently are more prone to allowing physical play is I guess is up for debate. Dunno what the data says. Certainly there are individual differences that are clearly visible over time


The conference office's direction and tradition of play in the league and other stuff may also play a role. For sure reputation matters. No way that the Iowa guy, McCaffrey, gets away with the physical play against us that Izzo does. But Izzo has been to 6 Final Fours and has a reputation for teams w/ physical play and reputation matters so he'll get more calls or more importantly more non-calls. Refs are human.


March 4th, 2013 at 12:27 AM ^


It was totally inconsistent and at times just plain bad. We got a lot of calls early in the second half but then it was as if they were trying to not see the MSU mayhem.  This type of inconsistency is the hardest to deal with as a player.

With about 11 minutes left in the game Michigan gets into the bonus.  There would be only one additional foul called on MSU over the next eleven minutes while there were six called on us until McGary was fouled intentionally with 8 seconds left.  After the game I spent ½ an hour and reviewed the period right after the 11 minute mark going in slow motion at times and trying to be as fair as possible.  The refs were just awful to us. 

10:46 Hardaway drives to the hoop between two defenders both of them grab him and rip the ball away.  No foul. We get the ball out of bounds

9:15 Burke drives the lane and is grabbed and pushed and has to dish the ball to Albrecht who misses an open three.

8:44 Both teams scramble for a missed shot rebound. An MSU player grabs Hardaway by the shoulder and pulls him backward as he positions for the rebound.  The ball hits both of them and goes out. MSU gets the ball.

8:08  Burke drives and is fouled once before he get to a massive pick set by GRIII. He gets pushed in the back as he makes the layup.  No call.

8:02  GRIII is backing up as Appling jumps into him and attempts a shot which McGary cleanly blocks.  I think this is a fair call until during the time out they show highlights from a first half play where MSU did the exact same thing to us and did not get called for a foul (i.e. first defender on the ball bodies up on the drive and the second defender cleanly blocks the shot as it goes up.)

7:08  Burke get fouled on the drive with no call and dishes to Lavert who lays it in awkwardly as Nix throws him to the floor.  No call.

6:45  Morgan pulls in a rebound with two player on his back. The as he turn to throw an outlet pass he is fouled again a couple of times by an MSU player trying to steal the ball.  No call on either.

6:39  Burke drives and is grabbed and pushed and has to dish the ball. No call.

5:35  Burke is fouled at least three times on a drive to the hoop and makes the bucket anyway.  He shouts something at the refs in displeasure which is something I do not remember him doing very often if ever.  I guess he was fed up also.

4:36  Burke is fouled at least three times as he tries to bring the ball up the court.  Only on the third shove that sends him to the floor does the whistle come.  He makes both ends of the one and one.  This is the first foul called on MSU in over 6 minutes and the last foul shot we get until McGary is fouled intentionally with only 8 seconds left.  I could go on with a description of additional missed calls but we won so now I will just have some cheese with this whine.

3:53  Payne gets a rebound and then walks at least 4 steps after getting a rebound off a missed FT. No call.  This was the worst miss of the entire game and almost unbelievable that it did not get called. Enough already!

TL;DR summary- The lack of consistency of calls in this game was shameful.  However, this is not happening just in our games but across the board in B1G games this season. (I have watched quite a few non-Michigan games on BTN this year).  I have been playing the game myself and watching B1G b-ball since Cazzie and I have never felt the refs were this piss poor.  I have also ref’ed b-ball myself so I know how hard it is to be fair and balanced but SHEEESH it’s bad this year.  


March 4th, 2013 at 1:50 AM ^

Nice work.  Sorry it was there to have to do, though, but it seems as if it was a real thing going on and not just "us being homer fans".  I was keeping a bit of a tally myself and (not near what you came up with) also recognized we got to the Bonus relatively quick, especially for us.  I was worried a bit and those worries seemed to come true.  Nothing called for us for the next 8 or so minutes and next I know, they're in the Double Bonus with a couple minutes left and we're still sitting at 8 fouls toward us; something psychologically seemd to happen in the minds of the officials and it affected the game.  Yadda yadda, yes we did some stupid thing ourselves that almost cost us but that shouldn't ignore what was strangely being called/not called by the unbiased officials.


March 4th, 2013 at 12:50 AM ^

I think M's platform favors neutral court and close called games. Allows Burke and Hardaway more freedom to move.

MSU can potentially play that game too.


March 4th, 2013 at 7:09 AM ^

As long as the games are called down the middle, non-Big Ten officiating should help.  In the tournament, the only team allowed to play Big Ten defense is Duke.  This would be OK if their opponents were, but they get called for touch fouls.  

Otherwise, though, getting mugged every conference game should help Michigan withstand any standard defense they see in the tournament.


March 4th, 2013 at 11:32 AM ^

What about the fact that the B1G teams have already played a stretch of their schedule as hard as anything in the NCAA tournament?  @IU, OSU, @Wis, @MSU has got to be as hard or harder than any 4 game stretch in the NCAA tournament this year.  Granted Michigan lost 3 of those, but it's great practice for when it comes to tournament time.  The B1G should do fine, as every team in the conference has played a 4 game stretch as brutal as that one.  I don't think any other conference has the same difficulty of conference schedule.