Degree of difficulty, style, significance, unlikelihood — Ben Brust’s halfcourt heroics had a touch of every fundamental ingredient in a legendary shot.
Tim Hardaway Jr. thought his pull-up triple moments earlier had the makings of legend too. The sleek shooting guard, who never in fact played with five fouls like the ESPN commentators suspected, popped a go-ahead 3 with 2.4 seconds to play, sending a momentary hush over the Kohl Center crowd. It didn’t last. One timeout and a long in-bounds pass later, he was royally upstaged.
So much for Marist’s short-lived run, two days in all, as author of college basketball’s shot of the year. It was a fine bid nonetheless.
Should Michigan have fouled? In hindsight, the answer is obvious. But with two fouls to give, fouling Brust as soon as he caught the ball at midcourt wouldn’t have taken the 3-point shot out of the equation by putting Brust at the line. Instead, it adversely would have moved up Wisconsin’s in-bounding position to half court.
When a team is ahead by three with less than 10 seconds to play, almost all conceivable situations call for an immediate foul to eliminate the possibility of a game-tying trey. Michigan was caught up in one of the rare exceptions, executed accordingly and still got burned. Such is the life of a top-ranked college hoops team in this current climate.
If you’re going to get beat in backbreaking fashion, at least go down without self-destructing. There’s no shame in losing on the shot of the year, in perhaps the toughest venue for a road team to win in all the land.