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Why the sky won't look blue over Carolina today.

Monday - 3/24/2014, 8:44pm  ET

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams emotes on the sideline against Iowa State during the second half of a third-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Sunday, March 23, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

AP Sports Writer

Welcome back to a Tar Heel-stained edition of BracketRacket, the one-stop shopping place for all your offbeat NCAA tournament needs. Today, we blow the whistle on the NCAA, examine the relative merits of aging, check the odometer on DeAngelo Williams' car, and close out the first weekend of games with a salute to the greatest closer ever. So without further ado:



"Snafu" is an acronym that originated in the military during World War II, and if you don't know it, BracketRacket suggests looking it up when no children are present. It also captures what happened during the final 1.6 seconds of Iowa State's 85-83 upset win over North Carolina.

We don't have the time or space for a proper recap, so watch for yourself here:

All you need to know is that while the game-clock operator -- and everybody on the floor for North Carolina, from coach Roy Williams to freshman guard Nate Britt, who grabbed the inbounds pass and dribbled twice before crossing half court -- got it wrong, the referees ultimately got it right.

OK, they needed a review. But even being generous, North Carolina used up 2 seconds-plus trying to get a timeout, when their best chance to win was letting Britt chuck up a shot from 50 feet or so while he had the chance.

To Williams' credit, after the refs called both coaches to midcourt to explain, he immediately extended a hand to Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg and took his lumps.

"You can't lay that on the officials," Williams acknowledged. "It's our mistake."

But that doesn't let the NCAA off the hook.

Right after the game, the sports information director from a Big Ten school told Associated Press sports writer Luke Meredith that during regular-season conference games, the referees have their whistles synched to the game clock, "so you blow it and the clock stops dead."

Think about how much time and confusion that device would have saved, then think about the roughly $700 million the NCAA pockets in rights fees from CBS and Turner Broadcasting each year to televise the tournament and finally, ask yourself why it wasn't being used.

We asked the NCAA instead.

"Several conferences do utilize this technology," Dan Gavitt, vice president of the men's basketball championship confirmed in an-email. He said the NCAA tournament does not because the "multitude of camera angles in high definition by CBS & Turner have provided sufficient coverage to correct timing errors with the replay equipment."

Gavitt also noted the championship committee "reviews all officiating matters annually, and available technology is a topic that will be considered again."

All righty, then.



Talent vs. experience is college basketball's version of the nature vs. nurture debate.

Ever since one-and-done became the law of the NCAA landscape, coaches and fans have anguished over whether it's better to recruit supremely skilled kids who will flee campus the second the NBA comes calling, or patiently build second-tier talent and late-bloomers into a cohesive unit.

Many of the game's traditional powers -- Kentucky and North Carolina, quickly, and with relish; Duke and Kansas, gradually, and more grudgingly -- went down the first road, in part because blue-chippers still beat the doors of their programs down. The next-level powers -- Michigan State, Louisville, UConn, and Florida, to name a few -- have learned to mostly make do with the latter option. The mid-majors whose occasional tournament runs catch us by surprise rarely have a choice; when it comes to recruiting, they're already picking through leftovers.

The talent vs. experience debate heated up again this weekend, when star freshmen Jabari Parker of Duke and Andrew Wiggins of Kansas -- both projected NBA lottery picks -- exited stage left with their teams, sent packing by experienced squads from Mercer and Iowa State.

This year, that wasn't just a coincidence, either. Research by STATS shows that Duke and Kansas relied heavily on those spectacular freshmen and underclassmen, in general; giving them 66 percent and 76 percent of the minutes doled out during the tournament. In North Carolina's case, the figure was 65 percent.

This year, that was practically a recipe for an early departure. STATS' research also showed that 10 of the 16 teams that advanced to next weekend handed over more -- and usually much more -- than 50 percent of their minutes to upperclassmen. Stanford was the leader at 96 percent, followed by Tennessee (82), UConn (78), Louisville and Baylor (71) and San Diego State (68).

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