Busting Brackets

Eric Dixon leads Villanova to OT-Victory in Omaha over 12th-Ranked Creighton Bluejays

Creighton v Villanova
Creighton v Villanova / Porter Binks/GettyImages

Defense, defense, defense. Despite draining just 7 of its 22 three-pointers and 27 of its 66 field-goal attempts (/41 % from the field) for the entire-game, the Villanova Wildcats found a way to-upset Greg McDermott’s Bluejays by a deuce in-front of about-18,000 uncharacteristically passive Jays’-fans. Facing a 10-point deficit at halftime that ultimately inflated to a 14-point disadvantage early in the second-half (24-34 & 27-41) , the visiting team was forced to chip-away over the final 17 minutes of regulation; and chip-away they did.

While the Cats had their fair share of issues (w/) finishing thru-contact and sinking open-shots, any offensive-struggles they had wilted in comparison to the home team’s; as the Bluejays managed to knockdown just 5 of its 24 three-pointers, 23 of its 58 shots, and sprinkled in 16 turnovers for good measure. For the away team, its catalyst arrived in the (human-) form of Eric Dixon. The former Galloping Ghost of Abington (-high) was terrific all evening and finished the overtime-thriller with a game-high (of) 32 points including 12 made shots on 21 attempts.

With about 30 seconds left in overtime, Dixon drilled the biggest shot of the evening; a catch-&-shoot corner-3 off-the inbounds-pass that put the visitors up-2 (68-66) and proved to be the game’s decisive blow. Although the 6-foot 8-inch senior forward (of Nova) nailed his go-ahead three-pointer squarely in front of Creighton’s 7-foot 1-inch center, Ryan Kalkbrenner, (who is) the two-time defending Big East Defensive Player of the Year (award-winner) made his presence felt on that end of the floor all night long by altering/discouraging shots, rejecting 3 of them, recording a steal, and grabbing 8 rebounds (including 5 DRBS).

One could argue (that) the difference in the game was turnovers; as the home-team coughed-up the rock 16 times and had difficulty (w/) handling Nova’s ball-pressure while the Cats returned the favor just half-the-time (/8). After Dixon, the Cats had just one other-player reach double-digits in the scoring department; thanks to Hakim Hart’s 10-points on 50 percent shooting from the field (/5-10). In addition to Hart’s-&-Dixon’s offensive contributions, the Cats’ attack was (also) led by Germantown Academy’s Jordan Longino (8 points), sophomore Mark Armstrong (7), and Richmond-transfer Tyler Burton (6).

Without the services of Justin Moore, the Cats were undermanned; and the underdogs responded by handing over most of its ball-handling responsibilities to Armstrong and Longino. Using its 6-foot 2-inch speedster (in), Mark Armstrong , Nova was able to push the pace while providing the Creighton-defense with a look that it wasn’t exactly expecting; given (how) the deliberate, methodical approach of Jordan Longino (was) existing in stark contrast to the former’s style-of-play.

Aside from what’s typically perceived as any game’s (more-) seductive numbers (/scoring), the Wildcats were able to turn the tide by playing exceptional defense; highlighted by 10 steals including 4 from Longino and 2 from both Burton-&-Hart (and 1 from Dixon-&-Bamba). Meanwhile, the home-team managed to steal-it from the Cats on just 5 occasions. However, it wasn’t as if the 9.5-point favorites were getting pushed around from start-to-finish; given the fact that Creighton thoroughly outmuscled Nova on the offensive-&-defensive glass and finished the affair with 16 more boards than Nova did (46 to 30).

As Eric Dixon’s heroics were being complemented (just enough) by the timely dribble-drives of Hart, Longino, Burton, and Armstrong, the Cats almost saw their hopes dashed when the refs made a deeply disturbing call with a shade over 3 seconds left (to-play) in-regulation; an egregious error in-judgment that somehow put the ball in Creighton’s hands. I still can’t believe (that) Nova was denied the chance to win the ball game in regulation; for two reasons as a result of one play.

After Creighton’s 6-foot 7-inch fifth-year sharpshooter (in) Baylor Scheierman released his (well-) contested, end-of-shot-clock shot towards the basket and (then) the ball missed and proceeded to go out of bounds via a (or multiple) deflection(-s), the refs signaled Nova-basketball and then decided to go to the monitor (to be sure; and) for an official-review; to presumably determine which team touched the ball last.

Upon further review of the entire-play, however, and it became apparent that the Creighton shooter (/Baylor) failed to release the ball in the allowable time-frame (or) ; before the shot-clock expired. In other words, whatever happened (and/or whoever touched the ball) after the shot-clock reached zero and once (/after) Scheierman shot the ball was (or should’ve been) entirely inconsequential. Frankly, it’s difficult to summarize the vast extent of the referee’s mishaps in this specific case; but I’ll try.

Not only did the officials end up making the wrong-call, but (during the review) they looked at the wrong piece of information that occurred within the play in-question, and, thirdly, their eyes failed them as they were reviewing the wrong info. In short, the referees were trying to pinpoint who was responsible for touching the ball (last or); immediately before the ball bounced/rolled out of bounds. When you watch the review, it’s overwhelmingly obvious that the ball was last-touched by Creighton; meaning the refs original instincts (in just this regard; to give the ball to Nova) were solid. BUT, none of what they were looking at means anything (or should’ve meant anything); because the shooter released the ball after (or as) the back-board lit-up red.

Sure, the Jays were gifted the ball and couldn’t win the game (w/ 3.1 ticks left in-regulation) right then and there. Had Creighton won the game (there or) in OT, Neptune and his staff/players would’ve had every right to be absolutely incensed by the officials’ incompetence during the final-possession in-regulation. In fact, I’m willing to bet (that) Nova’s still not happy about that call, and part of me hopes the Cats don’t end up watching the review; because I don’t want them dwelling on the kind of stuff that’s not going to help them moving forward.

Just so we’re all on the same page, Nova should’ve had the ball in its possession with about 6 seconds left in-regulation; and a very real-chance to win the game in that moment. Instead, Creighton was given-possession with 3 seconds remaining; after being bailed out by a bogus call that could’ve been the game’s defining moment. Had Creighton escaped with the win (whether it was) in 40-or-45 minutes, you bet the refs would’ve had to answer for their mistakes. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that. Perhaps the refs errors were so horrendous that they ended up having a superstitious effect on how the rest of the game played out (over the final 3-tics of regulation and OT); in the sense that Nova ultimately prevailed.

What is it (again) we oughta say in these moments? Ah, I remember:

God Sees All (?)

Well, sometimes that’s the case.

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Ask Lee Trevino what he thinks about karma. The 6-time major-champion’s been struck by lightning not once, not twice, but three times. Tell him “God Sees All”, and he may tell you to (go pound-sand; or) hold-up any one of your clubs except for your 1-iron the next-time you’re braving the elements in a thunderstorm. Why?

Because “not even God can hit a 1-iron”.