Sunday, November 15, 2009

Game 3: Tony Greene works East Carolina-Wake Forest - Sunday, Nov. 15

GAME: East Carolina vs. Wake Forest at Greensboro, NC; Sunday, November 15, 2009

LINE: Wake Forest -16 1/2

RESULT: Wake Forest covers, winning by 31

Tony Greene worked his third game of the 2009-2010 college basketball season today in a match-up of East Carolina and Wake Forest from the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC.

Although technically a home game for East Carolina, there were very few fans of either team in the venue, which is much closer to Wake Forest's campus in Winston-Salem, NC, than it is to East Carolina's campus in Greenville, NC. Those are the things "mid-majors" must do to get big-time teams to play them; the mid-major has to agree to play it's "home" game in a "neutral" location that favors the big-time team.

It is important to note the betting line for today's game. Wake Forest opened as a 9 1/2 point favorite, yet at game time, the Demon Deacons were 16 point favorites. In other words, so much money came in on Wake Forest that casinos had to adjust their line by a whopping 6 1/2 points, trying to entice bettors to bet on East Carolina. For a point of reference, there was no other line in today's college basketball games that moved as much - apparently, there was a disproportionate amount of money on Wake Forest.

During the game, it was obvious that Wake Forest was the better team. 16 points better? Maybe, maybe not. But it seemed to ITGOTT that the officials, including Tony Greene, were intent on allowing Wake Forest, clearly a bigger and stronger team, to be must more physical on the defensive end than they were allowing East Carolina. (Note: the other officials were Mike Stuart and Les Jones).

This was so egregious to East Carolina coach Mack McCarthy that he actually received a technical foul during halftime. His protests of some no-calls on Wake Forest's defense earned him the ire of the officiating crew, and thus a technical foul call. ITGOTT always notes technical fouls on coaches for protesting calls, because we believe an official "on the take" could easily use a technical foul as a TRIPLE whammy, favoring the team he needs to cover.

The technical foul triple whammy:

First, the technical foul silences the coach of the team being cheated. Fearing getting a second technical foul and being ejected, the coach is likely to protest LESS after the technical foul, thus drawing less attention to the official on the take.

Second, it gives "free" points to the team being helped. In a game where the outcome is not in doubt but the point spread is, a couple of free points here and there can go totally unnoticed by everyone other than bettors.

Third, officials are most likely to assess technical fouls when their integrity is questioned. All officials know they will miss calls here and there, and usually are OK with coaches yelling at them about that. But question their integrity? Officials are much more likely to be offended by this if they really ARE on the take, don't you think?

During the early portion of the second half, Wake Forest extended its lead to 28 points, but a spurt by East Carolina, aided by several three pointers, pulled the lead back to 20 points. The point spread was threatened, and on two of the next three East Carolina offensive possessions, obvious fouls on Wake Forest were ignored by Tony Greene. As the TV commentators pointed out that Wake Forest was pulling away, a shot of an incredulous East Carolina coach Mack McCarthy lingered on the TV screen. Apparently afraid to questions the officials, perhaps due to the technical he received at halftime, Coach McCarthy stood silently bemused, appearing to be defeated by not only the superior talent of the Demon Deacons but also the officiating crew.

(Note: Mike Stuart also contributed to the Wake Forest run, calling a three-second call on an East Carolina offensive possession.)

It should be noted that, with 13:17 left in the game, a shot by East Carolina that was "clearly tipped", according to the commentators, out of bounds by Wake Forest was ruled to be Wake Forest's ball. "All three officials clearly missed that one," the commentators said, "Mack McCarthy can't even get the officials to meet to talk about it." Wake Forest scored on the ensuing possession to increase its lead to nearly 30, safely above the 16 1/2 point spread. It should be noted that refusing to work as an officiating team could be an easy tactic for an official on the take, preferring to stick to what HE claims he saw rather than asking his fellow officials for help in case he missed something.

An official on the take dealing with a large spread needs to be careful to get the spread "covered" before the end of the game. As in many games with large spreads, Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio was unconcerned with the spread and spent the last 10 minutes of the game getting playing time for his reserves. As such, the 30 point deficit Wake Forest obtained with about 10 minutes to go was steady until the end of the game, which Wake Forest won by 31, easily covering the 16 1/2 point spread.

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