Marner: Basketball review rules need reviewing

Two officials review a play during the game against Kansas on Jan. 13. The Cyclones fell to the Jayhawks 77-70.

Aaron Marner

College basketball, for the most part, is an entertaining product. But it’s not without its flaws.

Monday’s national championship game between Virginia and Texas Tech shined a light on the game’s biggest, most glaring flaw and unfairly took the spotlight away from an otherwise spectacular game.

In case you missed it, there was a play with 1:06 remaining in overtime, with Virginia leading by two points, in which college basketball’s instant replay rules overtook Kyle Guy as the biggest star of the game.

Texas Tech guard Davide Moretti dribbled past half-court while Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter took a swipe at the ball. Hunter poked it loose, sending the ball out of bounds.

The referees awarded Texas Tech possession, but Virginia players and coaches signaled to officials that they wanted the play to be looked at one more time.

After a lengthy review, officials overturned the call and gave the ball to Virginia. The decision all but ended the game as it took away Texas Tech’s chance to tie or take the lead in the final minute.

Here’s the problem: college basketball’s broken review system is the only reason this was allowed.

Replay reviews are only allowed in the final two minutes of regulation and each overtime period. Why is it only allowed in the final two minutes? Who knows. If the play happened 60 seconds earlier, Texas Tech would have retained possession. Maybe the game goes into another overtime if that happens, or maybe Texas Tech takes the lead with a 3-pointer and wins its first-ever national title.

Instead, an incredibly exciting game was reduced to a frame-by-frame breakdown and national debate about whether the ball grazed Moretti’s pinky finger on its way out of bounds.

This isn’t the fault of the on-court officials from Monday’s game. They followed protocol and enforced the rules appropriately.

But that’s not what basketball is about. That same play occurs frequently without review, simply because it doesn’t happen within the final two minutes of the game.

The other issue is that, upon review, it was crystal clear Moretti had been fouled just seconds before the ball went out of bounds. Guy, a Virginia guard, wrapped his arms around Moretti in an attempt to poke the ball loose. Moretti maintained possession amid contact from Guy.

Officials are not going to get every call correct. Human error plays a part in every game. The officials missed the foul Guy committed, just as they missed the out-of-bounds call seconds later.

Fouls, however, are not reviewable per the NCAA unless it’s with the intent of reviewing whether a foul should be considered flagrant.

Fouls are far more subjective than most other violations. It’s about the severity and degree of contact most of the time, and on instant replay it can be nearly impossible to judge that fairly. It makes sense for fouls to be exempt from review rules.

It just doesn’t make sense for out-of-bounds calls to be subject to minutes of slow motion to see if the ball did or didn’t graze a player’s pinky finger.

Fans, media and players (such as former Cyclone forward Georges Niang) took to Twitter to voice their frustrations.

Niang called for replay to be taken out of the college game.

“Man how are you going to review a call like that!! And then reverse it this is too much now!”

If review is going to be part of the college basketball game, it needs to be changed. Broken review rules already changed the national championship game; the rules need to be improved before that happens again.