Update: Video of the last moments of Butler-Xavier after the jump.
At this point, I should probably expect anything I write about about college basketball to be proven incorrect quickly and spectacularly. (Thanks, Mississippi State!) Omitting Butler-Xavier from the roundup of today's games fits, because it now looks like a brutal oversight.
In the ending of the day, following a frenetic 25 seconds including two missed threes and a ball flying back to the backcourt, Butler's Gordon Hayward recovered a loose ball and laid in the go-ahead basket with 1.2 seconds left and Xavier needing to go the length of the court to win. Then referees conferred, noting that the clock stopped briefly while the ball crossed midcourt. And conferred. And conferred. And after 12 minutes, they ruled that time had expired, making Butler's 69-68 victory final and Hayward's lay-up the winning shot.
The ruling befuddled Bob Knight, announcing the game, who was actually arguing for putting time back on the clock, and infuriated the visiting Xavier fans; Kyle Whelliston, at the game, collected some choice atmosphere. And if the 1.2 seconds had run off the clock before the shot, well, that would have changed everything, no? Expect to hear plenty about this finish for some time to come.
Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Cleveland State nearly smeared West Virginia's perfect record, in a game few would have pegged for late excitement. The Vikings tied the game at 78 on a lay-up with twelve seconds left, and trapped a Mountaineer near the sideline at midcourt on the inbounds play. But two quick passes got the ball to Da'Sean Butler for a wide open lay-up with one second left, the Vikings' halfcourt prayer missed, and West Virginia survived a scare, 80-78.
In Arlington, Texas built a double-digit lead in the first half and never led by less than two possessions in the second, winning 103-90 over North Carolina; in Lawrence, Kansas built a double-digit lead in the first half and never relinquished it in the second, winning 75-64 over Michigan. And neither of those marquee games could live up to the mayhem at Hinkle and in Cleveland.
At least I was right about one thing: College basketball announced itself as the dominant sport of the next few months of Saturdays today.â†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.