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Tar Heels Claim Controversial Championship

St. Louis, MO – North Carolina defeated Illinois last night, 75-70, to claim the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball championship, their first since 1993.

For UNC coach Roy Williams, the Tar Heels’ stirring 75-70 victory over Illinois on Monday night was the culmination of the two-year revival of his alma mater and his first national title.

The victory gave North Carolina (33-4) its fourth N.C.A.A. championship, and denied Illinois its first.  It also ended a string of four empty trips to the Final Four for Williams, who had lost in two national semifinals and two championship games while coaching at Kansas.

The victory did not come, however, without a measure of controversy.  Within hours of the conclusion of the title game, USCountShots.org, a Utah non-profit organization of statisticians and researchers, published a mathematical analysis of the game’s final minutes which seemed to show that the Fighting Illini had actually scored more points than the Tar Heels.

“There’s no way the Illini wound up with 70 points,” agreed Clint Curtis, an independent researcher.  “Look again at the final two minutes.  Deron Williams misses an open three with the score tied at 70?  And then Luther Head misses an open three with the Illini down 72-70, then Williams misses a two, then Head misses a three with twenty seconds left and the score 73-70?  That’s not even remotely plausible.  All of these were open shots with good looks at the basket.  But you’ve got an electronic scoreboard with no paper trail, and that’s open to all kinds of abuse.”

A spokesman for USCountShots.org noted, more tentatively, that it was possible the Tar Heels had outscored Illinois, but that the odds of Head and Williams missing all four shots down the stretch were “nearly a million to one.”

According to the group’s press release, USCountShots’ analysis of the game suggests that after the Illini had erased a 15-point deficit in the second half, the Tar Heels began to play tentatively, getting only one tip-in field goal over the final five minutes.  “Once you factor in the game’s final exit polls, which were taken during those crucial five minutes,” said the group’s spokesman, “you wind up with the Illini outscoring the Tar Heels by 3%, or roughly 77-75.”

Illini coach Bruce Weber declined to comment on the controversy, and most fans seemed to shrug off the discrepancy between the exit polls and the final outcome.  A handful of Illinois faithful, however, did question whether any championship in N.C.A.A. history had involved one team shooting only six free throws over the course of an entire game, and some asked N.C.A.A. officials whether Tar Heel standout Sean May had filed the appropriate pre-game paperwork that would entitle him to the “Shaq Exemption” under which big men are permitted to back into hapless defenders down low.

Posted by on 04/05 at 07:19 AM
  1. LMAO!  Very nice indeed.  Non-sequitur alert!  Horowitz came to Bowling Green and got heckled.  Lots of merriment, protesting, and Front Page revulsion ensued (I didn’t go--but wrote up a “Guest Editorial” nevertheless.  College Republicans write paper to admit they invited Ho to “piss liberals off” and feign surprise when Ho’s talk turns into an incoherent circus.  Ah well, perhaps Chairman Dave is responsible for the Illini loss, no?

    Does this mean you owe Cultural Studies tomes to a certain individual?  Did you take Illinois for the win, or is it a push with your burgoo/crow sundae?

    Posted by DocMara  on  04/05  at  09:32 AM
  2. Hey, Michael, I ignored the Scott May connection and pulled for the Big Ten, but if I’d seen one more clip of Weber consulting his notes to deliver pregame homilies ("create memories that will last a lifetime") I was going over to the Dark Side.  Or Law & Order.

    Posted by Doghouse Riley  on  04/05  at  09:33 AM
  3. Nice try, Bérubé.  Nice try.  And I take offense at even a snarky analogy between UNC’s glorious victory and...what happened in November.  Raggin’ on Sean? C’mon, it was his birthday yesterday, too! Sheesh.

    I’m looking forward to Idelber’s post today.

    Posted by  on  04/05  at  10:17 AM
  4. Very very funny, Michael. smile

    Can we laugh at the tragedies (and the November tragedy was one of the lesser of the many many tragedies that occur daily, though it meant that we would have four more years of certain tragedy instead of four years of probably tragedy with some frustration and disappointment thrown in) that occur in our lives? I think so. I hope so.

    Irony isn’t dead. It may be being kept alive only by a feeding tube, but the living will clearly states that Irony wanted to be kept alive at all costs.

    I don’t want to remain alive in a phony “culture of life”. Consider that *my* living will.

    Love,

    Hanna

    Posted by Hanna  on  04/05  at  10:31 AM
  5. DocMara, I am indeed out a couple of signed books, even though Idelber actually predicated his bet on a double-digit Tar Heels victory.  I do have a sense of honor, after all.  Doghouse, I didn’t see those clips—I came in (after putting Jamie to bed) with Illinois up 12-9, which I believe was their last lead of the game.  And SneakySnu, what’s wrong with calling attention to the last-minute arrival of a wheelbarrow full of Illini bricks in such a way as to call attention to a legitimate statistical analysis of alleged election fraud? That link is to the real USCountVotes site, y’know, and I don’t see why we don’t pay the same attention to allegations of election fraud in the US that we pay to allegations of election fraud in . . . oh, say, the Ukraine. . . .

    And was it Sean May’s birthday yesterday?  I didn’t catch that the first thirty times CBS mentioned it.  OK, then he’s allowed to back in down low without a waiver. 

    Posted by Michael  on  04/05  at  10:36 AM
  6. Then I said to myself, “Why stop there?”

    Perhaps those of you in the reality-based community would like to read accurate analysis of the game?

    And I quote:

    “May held the Illini at bay, responding with 10 points and an assist on a Jawad Williams trey as UNC opened up a 65-55 lead.

    ‘From the beginning, we knew it was tough for them to stop Sean,’ Manuel said of May, who scored 18 second-half points. “Their big guys were getting in foul trouble, so it would be dumb not to go into Sean.’

    On the ensuing possession, Felton silenced the crowd with a spot-up 3 from the left wing. Still, Illinois wouldn’t fade and retied the score at 70 on a 3-pointer by Head, who along with Deron Williams was named to the all-tournament team.

    [...]

    But that would be the last shot Illinois would hit, as the 3s the Illini relied on so heavily to make the comeback stopped falling again. Illinois misfired on 28 of 40 3-point attempts, including its final five.

    ‘We fought back and tied it up, but they made the plays and we didn’t,’ Deron Williams said. ‘They made the plays down the stretch, and we didn’t.’” [My emphasis]

    I’m going to let Deron Williams have the last word on this one.

    Posted by  on  04/05  at  10:37 AM
  7. Pardonnez-moi? Since when does one go to the Daily Frigging Tarheel for an “accurate analysis” of a game involving North Carolina?  You might as well ask Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell for his opinion on Diebold machines.  That Williams quote, for instance, is severely truncated.  My sources tell me that Deron actually said, “We fought back and tied it up, but according to the electronic scoreboard that leaves no paper trail, the final score suggests that they made the plays and we didn’t” (my emphasis—and I note that the Daily Tarheel, published by Talon News, didn’t even provide an ellipsis).

    Posted by  on  04/05  at  10:46 AM
  8. while i agree with the need for keen attention to shooting discrepancies, it seems to me the game’s best read as political allegory. while a commitment to democratic egalitarianism and the relatively equitable distribution of goods is appealing and competitive, it’s always going to lose in the end to a strong man who forces his way into the middle.

    speaking of equitable, shouldn’t may’s obvious but uncalled charge against powell in the first half be worth at least two ticky-tack fouls called against (st.) augustine in the second? i mean backing in without a waiver’s one thing, and maybe a birthday present, but shouldering a defender to the ground in front of the ref?

    Posted by  on  04/05  at  10:50 AM
  9. You call Clint Curtis an “independent researcher”?
    Please. The guy lives free in a 7500 sq ft mansion in Duke Forest, two miles away from Coach K. Along with most of the NCAA refs.

    Whatdaya think Weber’s going to do with that fetching safety-orange blazer? Clearly not his lucky jacket anymore. Maybe he should dye it. Powder blue would look nice. Or donate it to the Illinois D.O.T.

    Hysterical write-up, MB! So, how ‘bout them Yankees?

    Posted by  on  04/05  at  11:05 AM
  10. Mere expletives cannot adequately express the level of frustration and sadness I’m feeling this morning.

    I feel compelled to point out that a few posts back, yours truly predicted a 70-68 Illinois victory. I believe that seven point discrepancy can be attritubted to Sean May’s big ass, which I clearly hadn’t taken into consideration.

    Oh well. I think the Cubbies are gonna win it all this year.

    Posted by Paul  on  04/05  at  11:05 AM
  11. What matters most the morning after, Michael, is that you beat the spread:

    Ah, Dr. Bérubé, how about a 6 CD-R, 120-song homemade compilation of Brazilian music against signed copies of The Aesthetics of Cultural Studies and Life as We Know it (I’ve read and love the latter but don’t own it) the Heels will slaughter the Illini by a double-digit lead on Monday night?

    … Let me pick a score as well: Carolina 83, Illinois 72.

    Posted by Dan  on  04/05  at  11:37 AM
  12. I’m just mad that Jay Leno’s Headlines was interrupted with a SPECIAL NEWS REPORT:

    Franklin Street Burning!

    Nothing like the sight of thousands of drunken undergraduates jumping through bonfires...of course, the newsreporter noted, “The fire chief has already been through here and wet down the street to prevent the fires from burning very long.” This comment accompanied a tight shot on several students jumping through a bonfire.

    I did mention I was moving to Ohio, land of the Redhawks, correct?

    Posted by  on  04/05  at  12:02 PM
  13. Just another example of the Bible Belt fixing results! I think I’m going to have to move to Canada and become a hockey fan....

    ....Doh!

    Posted by Dave Munger  on  04/05  at  12:25 PM
  14. >>>A handful of Illinois faithful, however, did question whether any championship in N.C.A.A. history had involved one team shooting only six free throws over the course of an entire game…

    Good point, but:
    If I’m not mistaken, Illinois’ *40* 3-pt attempts was a finals record.  If you shoot 3s, you don’t draw many fouls.  (And the foul discrepancy was only 18-13, and that was with Illinois intentionally fouling in the last minute.) If Illinois had shot the same 3pt FG % as UNC, the score would have been 100-75, Illini.

    Posted by  on  04/05  at  01:36 PM
  15. Good point, Isotope, but who ever heard of a team shooting .5625 from three-point land in the first place?  (UNC was 9 of 16, for those of you not keeping track at home.) Illinois’ 3-pt FGP for the year was .392, which would have given them (if we round off to .4) 16 of 40 last night instead of 12, and a 82-75 victory.  But allowing for standard deviation from the team average, USCountShots.org has determined that it was plausible for the Illini to make only 14 last night.  It’s those last four misses—and five consecutive missed threes to end the game—that defy rational explanation.

    Posted by Michael  on  04/05  at  01:46 PM
  16. Yeah, well, maybe you, your “sources” and the whole freaking Illini team should read What’s The Matter with Kansas? So where is Kansas this year?  Did they make it to the Final Four?  Nooooo, knocked out in the first round by Wisconsin! Perhaps you have not read Franks’s revised second edition explicating the phenomenal inroads progressives are making against the wingers by strategically humiliating state basketball teams?

    NC may be a red state but the Dems had significant local success in the last election.  And don’t forget what Tar Heel hatin’ Jesse Helms once said about my alma mater: when asked about the construction of a new zoo (now in Asheboro), he replied, “What do we need to build a zoo for?  Just put a big fence around Chapel Hill.” Chapel Hill, a bastion of progressive politics.

    Instead of making empty allegations of a possible relationship between the DTH and Talon News, or sniveling over “miscounted” hoops (I believe your own term was ”a wheelbarrow full of Illini brickswink I suggest you reconsider your strategy.  Your “You Tar Heels escaped with your lives, having proved yourselves unable to cope with our screens” meme isn’t working.

    Posted by  on  04/05  at  01:49 PM
  17. What? Has this blog gone completely insane?

    Lemme tell a story: in the 1970 World Cup, after being trounced by Brazil 4-1, the Italian coach comes up with this linguistic gem: “if Riva had hit that 30-yarder when the game was tied, if we had not committed that penalty when the game was 2-1, and if Pelé hadn’t dribled our entire team on his way to scoring the third goal, we would have had chance to tie at the end of regulation with a shot by Riva. That’s if they hadn’t scored the fourth, that is.” End of Italian coach’s interview, cancelled due to a true abuse of past perfect/conditional perfect if-clauses.

    Did Dr. Bérubé watch a hockey game last night? Is he complaining about Sean May backing into haplass defenders? You’re a hockey player, a punk drummer, and you’re complaining about our very modest (for our standands) inside game last night? Oh, Dr. Bérubé, I’ve seen my Heels win a few nail-biters over the years, but last night was not one of them. That baby was never in question.

    Beginning of game: I tell my friend, ‘anyone who wears an orange jacket like that is bound to lose’. What did Weber think? That no one would notice? That we’re still in the age of black and white television? Mid-way thru the 1st half, my second comment: ‘anyone who fires threes like that against the Heels is bound to lose, even if a few start going in.’ I never looked back, and please don’t call those bricks open shots with good looks at the basquet. In basketball we call them hail maries. So please be honorable in defeat, Michael, or people will start making fun of you in Portuguese.

    Posted by Idelber  on  04/05  at  01:53 PM
  18. Well, it sounds to me like that Italian coach had a point, Idelber.  I didn’t even mention Quentin Thomas’s foul on Ingram with 11:14 left in the first half and the score 18-17 UNC, when Ingram broke down the lane, took a pass, went up, got hacked, and hit the shot.  The call?  No basket, no and-one, because the foul wasn’t in the act.  Not in the act?  He was in the air, for crying out loud! 

    So that’s three points gone right there, and of course Illinois didn’t want to chance going down low and getting robbed again, and that’s why they shot forty threes, and if Augustine hadn’t picked up those tiny, nitpicking, barely-perceptible fouls. . . .

    No, no, even I can’t keep it up.  Sigh.  The Tar Heels were indeed the better team last night, and actually for the first four minutes of the second half there was the chance that it might get ugly and people across the country would have to send the children to bed.  But “that baby was never in question”?  It certainly was in question when Deron Williams put up that three with two minutes left and the score 70-70; let’s not forget that the Illini defense allowed NC two FGs over the last 10:29 (you can look it up).  Williams’ shot was a good one, as was Head’s with 1:13 left.  Luther’s hairball with 20 seconds remaining, however, was indeed a prayer to the Virgin, and Illinois’ failure to get off a shot on their final possession of the first half was a rank embarrassment.

    As for the orange blazer:  Good Lord.  The entire team should have worn white to begin with, and Weber should have saved the jacket for Illinois’ annual Halloween “Celebration of Hideousness.” (Always a fun event for the alumni.)

    Posted by Michael  on  04/05  at  02:13 PM
  19. Let me second Idelber on the orange jacket fiasco.  The last time I saw such a monstrosity, it was marching up Nassau Street with 70 of its brethren at the annual retina bleaching called the Princeton Reunion Parade, circa 1983.  You cannot tempt the basketball gods, fashion-challenged as most of them were (think Al McGuire) with such a sartorial nightmare and expect to succeed.  And just because the Flopping Illini seem to have watched the Shane Battier epic I’m Not Falling, He’s Charging before the game doesn’t mean Sean May needed the Shaq Exemption.  They just needed Krzyzewski, not Weber Julius, on the bench to work his ref-mojo.

    Posted by corndog  on  04/05  at  02:16 PM
  20. Michael, I think you should reveal your conflicts of interest here.

    You are the *Paterno* Family Professor of Liberal Arts, are you not?

    I think there’s little more to be said.

    Try to stay away from those 10-year-old Thomas Hardy’s at Zeno’s, mmm-kay?

    Posted by  on  04/05  at  02:32 PM
  21. Oh, and Sneaky...Kansas lost to BUCKNELL, not Wisconsin.  There’s not even a decent C-14 facility at Bucknell.

    Posted by  on  04/05  at  02:35 PM
  22. Well, Michael, you’re granting the point that the Heels were the better team, I’ll grant you the point that “that baby was never in question” was a bit of an exaggeration. I meant that, in all honesty, I never feared for one second, even with that Williams ball in the air and the score 70-70. I don’t know, maybe it’s just that feeling of being used to winning (known to me because of the Heels and the Brazil soccer team) that sets you aside from people used to losing (feeling also known to me ‘cause of the damn Hornets and Panthers). It’s funny how those things go, isn’t it?

    As for the foul shots, you don’t have a point: anyone knows that if you fire 3s like that, you don’t get to the foul line. Florida State had a great team in the mid-90s (Bob Sura et al) but they would get blown out by the Heels almost every time, because of their abusive number of 3-point attempts. If you launch 40 3-pointers against a team like Carolina, you need some serious combination of God, Allah, Buddha, and Jehovah on your side, or you lose.

    Posted by Idelber  on  04/05  at  02:53 PM
  23. For the record, the quotes from the Annie libretto ran on Saturday.  Last night’s snippet, about how five fingers working together make a fist, is from The Tao of Jerry Quarry, unless I’m mistaken.

    Posted by Doghouse Riley  on  04/05  at  03:45 PM
  24. Oh yeah, that baby was most definitely in question! (Though I am still laughing at Idelber’s cautionary tale of conditionals.) When Head and Williams started draining those exquisitely accurate distance jumpers midway through the second half, why, you’ve never seen a gaggle of Tar Heel fans empty out a liquor closet faster.

    I think the worst thing about last night’s fouls was the inconsistency with which the refs called them--on both ends of the court. Made my head spin; I can’t imagine playing or coaching through that morass.

    Posted by  on  04/05  at  04:02 PM
  25. Here in Charlottesville, where we’re so very far from the Ralph Sampson era it might as well have featured whips ‘n’ buggies, I have it on good authority that the local flags were at full-staff yesterday, in spite of the Pope’s death and the national period of morning declared by Karl Rove and Frank Luntz. The ensigns rapidly descended to at least half-staff at game’s end, last night, though. In fact, a few American flags may have been burned. While wrapped around an obnoxious--but, really, which one of them isn’t?--UNC alumnus.

    I can’t believe that my Clemson Tigers had the ‘heels down by 13 with 8 minutes left in a second-round game of the ACC tournament, and lost. There was no God, then, but now, there is a Satan.

    Posted by  on  04/05  at  06:58 PM
  26. I believe Weber wore the orange jacket as an homage to the old Illinois coach.

    Posted by  on  04/05  at  07:23 PM
  27. I’m neutral about the UNC v. Illini thing--well, OK, I was until read Michael’s stinging condemnation of the Chief, at which point I tilted slightly to the UNC side of things--but the person I’m happiest for is Roy Williams.  He seems like a genuine class act, hasn’t been embroiled in any scandals that I can recall and seems to have the utmost respect from his players, current and past. 

    Of course, sportwriters must be furious because what will they write about him during next year’s tourney, now that he’s not the “best coach never to win a title” anymore?  See: Phil Mickelson at last year’s Masters.

    Posted by  on  04/05  at  09:38 PM
  28. I wasn’t ticked off when Williams lost the finals the last go-around—it was against my alma mater, Syracuse—but it was nice seeing him come this year’s rendition of “One Shining Moment"…

    Posted by  on  04/06  at  07:52 PM
  29. I’ll tell you why they missed five threes in the dying seconds, because their deal with the devil for a ridiculous number of last second threes to beat a better team was a one off, and they had already used it on us.

    Congrats, Heels, and count yourself lucky that there is a devil, and that he was willing to put his hand in against ‘Zona. We’d a beaten the tar right outta ya.

    Where’s my whiskey?

    Posted by  on  04/07  at  02:00 PM

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