A funny thing happened during Friday night’s Michigan State Sweet 16 victory over Kansas, the one game of four that wasn’t an absolute stinker. After a made free throw by a teammate, Spartans forward Idong Ibok went to go inbound the ball. The problem, of course, was that the ball wasn’t Michigan State’s to inbounds … it was Kansas’.
Clearly, the gaffe — which was first discovered by Yahoo!’s THE DAGGER blog — goes down in recent NCAA legend as one of the stupider plays in memory. No, it’s not Chris Webber for cross-state rival Michigan, or Georgetown’s Fred Brown flipping the ball to James Worthy … but it might have been if any kind of a technical could have been called against him, as opposed to a traditional “delay of game.” And you know what? Maybe they should have called a tech.
Think about it: In the middle of the second half of a tight, back-and-forth game, Michigan State completely co-opted the flow of the game at a key moment by throwing Kansas off its game. Did it make a huge difference? Statistically, no. But it did slow Kansas’ ability to to strike back immediately.
In a game that was only decided by five points, and played out even closer than that, each free throw was pivotal. Who’s to say that the free throw Kansas might have hit from an out of left field Ibok technical wouldn’t have put Kansas over the top.
Instead, Kansas is headed back to Lawrence, and Michigan State is a step closer to the nearest thing to a home-court Final Four that we’ve ever seen. If the Spartans get there, this moment will probably be swept under the rug like, but if there were an alternate, comedy cut of “One Shining Moment”, we’re convinced it would be in the closing scene.