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3.28.2011

Dear Reggie Miller: Gus Johnson > you 

In Florida's overtime win over BYU in the round of 16 in the NCAA basketball tournament, Florida had the ball in the frontcourt with about 15 seconds remaining and the score tied. Gus Johnson asked if BYU should commit an intentional foul to try to get the ball back, and Reggie Miller reacted as if Gus asked him if the moon was made of green cheese. At the time Vernon Macklin, Florida's starting center (11.5 PPG in 24.5 minutes, 59.3% FG but 45.1% FT over 100 free throws or so) was on the floor, and Florida was in the double bonus (two free throws for every non-shooting foul).

I won't bore you with the math here, but suffice it to say that one can construct plausible percentages such that fouling Macklin quickly if given the chance is marginally the correct play. If Florida is in the one-and-one, it becomes a much better play. The better the offenses are, the worse the free throw shooter for Florida is, and the worse BYU's chances in overtime are (they looked pretty gassed down the stretch to this non-professional observer), the more the decision swings in favor of fouling.

What I find really interesting is that in Florida's next game, an overtime loss to Butler, nearly the same situation transpired. Florida had the ball with :30 left in a tie game. However, Florida coach Billy Donovan kept Macklin on the bench for the final possession. The only reason I can think of for this is that Donovan feared that Macklin might get fouled with significant time left on the clock, and it's quite possible that Donovan didn't think of this possibility until news of Gus Johnson's allegedly ridiculous question hit the interwebs.

I don't think it's correct to keep Macklin on the bench in the above scenario; I think it's better to have him on the line than to run a final possession without him. But it is very interesting that Donovan thought of this possibility and that he thought that Butler coach Brad Stevens would have thought of it also.

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Props to Jay Bilas for not being results-oriented 

He stands by his claim that VCU didn't deserve to make the NCAA tournament.

Of course UAB, another team he panned, got blown out in the play-in round, but he correctly refuses to use that as post-hoc justification as well.

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