Allow me to rant, so that you can know why I’m starting this post out like this.
It’s the Notre Dame-Kentucky game from last night. It’s bothering me. It’s still bothering me. A lot. And I do not root for either team. But man, it is burning me up.
First things first. Some credit to Kentucky. The Wildcats didn’t miss a shot down the stretch of a close game, a huge game, the hugest game of the season thus far. I think 9-for-9 including two swished three-pointers was the tally. Basically, with their backs against the wall and their perfect season about to be bashed up, UK rose up and got it done against an incredible Notre Dame Fighting Irish team.
With that said, let’s rewind back to the first half. Notre Dame was clearly the better team playing better basketball. The Irish were running their top-ranked offense beyond perfection. Side pick-and-rolls, cuts to the rim—-it was the college version of the San Antonio Spurs. The way Mike Brey’s team executed in that first half, it should have been about a seven-point lead at intermission.
But it was tied, 31 all.
And here comes the rant…
It was tied at half, f***ing TIED at half, because Kentucky and their mule shit offense were rewarded with many, many unwarranted trips to the free throw line. We counted at least four highly questionable foul calls on Notre Dame in that first half. TBS showed a replay of only one of them, of course, because everyone in the galaxy knew the calls were phantom but The Powers That Be didn’t want confirmation of the favoritism.
We’ve seen this all tournament with Kentucky and Duke, which is the way it’s been for decades—and that’s why 95% of America hates those blue blood schools. In the Utah-Duke game, an official called the 3rd foul on Delon Wright creating a jump ball/alternate possession with a Duke player for heaven’s sake!
Back to last night’s game. Putting aside the terrible brick thrown up by Devin Booker that banked in from 3-point land to tie the game at 6…….actually, wait, I’m not putting that aside. How the motherF*CK does THAT team, packed with 7-footers and lottery picks and already getting every call…how does THAT team deserve a BANKED THREE from the Basketball Gods???!!!
Okay, now back to that first half. The Irish should have been leading roughly by the score of 31-24 at the break. And if that’s the case, we’ve got a totally different ballgame. Every play matters, every horseshit foul call matters, EVERYTHING matters over the course of the 40 minutes. And Kentucky repeatedly—and when I say Kentucky I mean those daggum Harrisons—just recklessly drove into traffic with no notion of doing anything but hoping for a foul call and were rewarded over and over again. In addition to those dogshit free throw attempts, the officials were bailing out Kentucky’s gigantic post players against much smaller, lighter Notre Dame defenders, even when those smaller, lighter defenders played PERFECT fundamental defense (i.e. Zach August).
It was a total bail out. Kentucky had absolutely zero business being tied at the half in that game. And yet, they were. (I should also add that John Calipari was whining his face off to the officials during that first half in which his team was receiving that enormous benefit of the doubt. And that’s why most fans can’t stand him.)
And this is what burns my tush. I’m sick and tired of having to say/write things like, “Team B needs to play well enough to win the game by 10-15 just to win it by a bucket.” I wrote that before Cincinnati went to play UConn in the first round of the American Conference tournament in Hartford. I knew it would be the case in the Notre Dame-Kentucky game as well.
Here’s the deal. Anyone who watched that game last night has to say that Notre Dame was the better team that played better basketball. All things considered, especially UK’s piping hot shooting down the stretch, I’d estimate that the Irish played well enough to earn about a 4-6 point victory. BUT, since the usual, typical, obvious horseshit went UK’s way in that first half, the Irish lost the game by two points.
And sure, you could point to Notre Dame not having an answer for Karl-Anthony Towns, or the two missed free throws late by seniors Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton, or the botched opportunity for a 2-for-1 in a tie game with just under a minute to go. And you could say what all the rest of the media is saying about Kentucky coming up big late and “finding a way to win” etc etc etc.
But that’s not the point. The point is this: Notre Dame had that game. The Irish were better basketball players and the better team. Yet, Kentucky and their banked three-pointer and their crude, entitled, racist fan base won the game.
That is not how this shit is supposed to go. This is one of those times that I really envy people who never allowed themselves to get sucked into sports.