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Couch Slouch

College Basketball Games End on a Slow Note

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By Norman Chad
Monday, March 16, 2009

College basketball is a lie. It's a lie because it has nothing to do with college, but it's also a lie because, at game's end, it has nothing to do with basketball.

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When it comes to March Madness, many think of Christian Laettner's 1992 buzzer beater for Duke against Kentucky. But most of the time, the only thing beating the buzzer is a series of stoppages, with intermittent play.

No other sport changes its nature in the waning minutes more drastically. For 36 minutes of clock time, each team tries to score; for the final four minutes, the team that's behind just tries to foul. It's not basketball anymore, it's a game of tag.

The final 1 minute 54 seconds of the Southeastern Conference tournament title game between Mississippi State and Tennessee took 21 minutes. The final 12.4 seconds took 12 minutes.

The final 1:01 of the MAAC tournament title game between Siena and Niagara took 12 minutes.

The final 28.2 seconds of the Big East semifinal between Syracuse and West Virginia took nine minutes.

(To soccer's credit, the final 3 1/2 minutes of a soccer match takes exactly 3 1/2 minutes, well, plus injury time. Of course, nothing happens, but that is consistent with the rest of the game.)

Here is how many college basketball games play out:

Foul, foul, timeout, commercial, foul, timeout, commercial, foul, foul, timeout, commercial, timeout, commercial, foul.

If it's an ACC or Big East game, rinse and repeat.

They'll run out of boosters before they'll run out of timeouts.

At a Leisure World somewhere, Lou Carnesecca has two timeouts left and is still trying to win a 1984 game against Georgetown.


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