Florida State’s 75-70 win over No. 1-seeded Xavier Sunday was one of many upsets in the opening weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
After they blew a 12-point lead with just under 11 minutes remaining in the game, any hope the Musketeers had of winning the game disappeared when Paul Scruggs turned the ball over with a little more than five seconds remaining.
Some fans, however, believe Xavier was robbed of a chance to tie the game because of a premature celebration by players on the Florida State bench.
Two players came off the Seminoles bench and onto the court to celebrate with teammates before time expired.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 19, 2018
Some fans thought that should have resulted in a technical foul against the Seminoles, which would have given Xavier two free throws and possession of the ball.
With a five-point deficit, that scenario would have given the Musketeers a chance to tie the game.
Florida state just had 4 bench guys on the floor before the clock expires… no technical foul… can someone explain?@NCAA
— Nick Honcoop (@nickhoncoop) March 19, 2018
So @NCAA do we allow 6 players on the floor now??? With 2.6 seconds left a Florida State player clearly runs off the bench onto the floor. @FSUHoops @XavierMBB #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/gsbYJxStKa
— Kyle Bollers (@kbbollers) March 19, 2018
So why didn’t the officials blow the whistle for what was clearly too many men on the court?
Kevin Skiver of CBS Sports broke the bad news for Xavier fans — yes, the Seminoles were guilty of having too many players on the floor, but they wouldn’t have been charged with a technical.
As Skiver points out, if the officials were to blow the whistle at that point, the correct call for players leaving the bench early would have been a delay-of-game warning against the Seminoles bench.
If a team receives two delay-of-game warnings in a game, a technical foul is assessed.
But FSU had not received a prior warning during the game.
Had the officials stopped the game with roughly two seconds remaining because of the additional players on the court, Florida State would have received a delay-of-game warning but would have maintained possession of the ball.
Skiver notes that according to the NCAA rule book, even the early celebration would not necessarily qualify as a delay-of-game penalty.
The section he cites reads, “Delaying the game by preventing the ball from being promptly made live or by preventing continuous play, such as but not limited to, followers or bench personnel entering the playing court before player activity has been terminated. When the delay does not interfere with play, it shall be ignored, and play shall be continued or be resumed at the point of interruption (See Rule 10-2.8.d and Rule 10-4.2.h).”
Since FSU’s early celebration did not interfere with play, the officials were correct to simply ignore it and allow the final two seconds to expire.
It’s probably of little comfort for Xavier fans to know their team let this game get away all on their own, and not because of a missed call late in the game.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.