One of the first instances of referees screwing a team at the NCAA Tournament this year involved New Jersey's Seton Hall University men's basketball team in their first round match-up Friday afternoon versus Arkansas.
Seton Hall the no. 9 seed in the tournament played no. 8 Arkansas tight all game, taking an 8-point lead at one point and mostly dominating the rebounding battle.
Arkansas's defense on the other hand was outstanding. The Razorbacks' perimeter forced the Pirates into several turnovers, while their big men contested nearly every shot at the rim.
With the Pirates down 71-72 with 18 seconds to play, Seton Hall's Desi Rodriguez attempted to give an intentional foul to Arkansas' Jaylen Bradford, who tripped.
After initially calling a common foul the referees changed their minds and determined it was a flagrant 1, torpedoing Seton Hall's chance to even the score.
Was this a flagrant foul or not? Could have cost Seton Hall the game. pic.twitter.com/Ep0tIAFaBe— David Espinoza (@AuthorDavidEspi) March 17, 2017
The controversial call enraged basketball fans, who pointed out that while Rodriguez was not making a play on the ball, the intentional fouling strategy has been used in basketball at the end of close games for decades and has never required a 'basketball play.'
Meanwhile, tripping, at any other point in the game would have been considered incidental contact and a common foul.
The Pirates may not have won anyway, but this isn't the way any team wants to go out in the Big Dance.
Not the way we wanted to end but thank you to everyone who supported us this season. We already can't wait for next season. #HALLin— Seton Hall MBB (@SetonHallMBB) March 17, 2017
Seton Hall handled the situation with dignity while Twitter screamed "BULLS**T!" on the team's behalf.
Horrendous flagrant foul call in Arkansas-Seton Hall. It would be like calling that last foul in NU-Vandy a flagrant 1.— J.A. Adande (@jadande) March 17, 2017
That flagrant foul call on Seton Hall is one of the worst end of game calls I have ever seen in my entire life. I am not underselling this.— John Schmeelk (@Schmeelk) March 17, 2017
That's a terrible call against Seton Hall. Let the players decide the game. #marchmadness— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) March 17, 2017
What an awful call to end that Seton Hall game, total garbage— Adam Reckamp (@AdamReckamp) March 17, 2017
That's just a brutal call for Seton Hall. Wow.— SI College Hoops (@si_ncaabb) March 17, 2017
Photo: Getty Images