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Men’s Basketball Tournament: STOP TAKING LATE THREES!

Can someone explain to me why no one in the NCAA has a clue what to do with the ball in the game’s final seconds?  STOP TAKING THREES!  YOU’RE KILLING MY BRACKET! @JoeBianchino

I believe it was funk master Herbie Hancock who sang about that naive optimism we call having stars in your eyes.  Well cue up the 45′s folks, cause it ran wild all over the opening weekend of the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament.  Now admittedly, with my bracket in shambles, my suffocating anger may be blinding me from rational thought, but an infuriating rash of bad play colored the last minutes of many second and third round games this weekend – turnovers, poor shots, 5 second violations ect.  Yet, as egregious as it is to throw a pass nine rows deep with thirty seconds to go, a one point lead, and a fresh shot clock – looking at you Notre Dame – I find myself vehemently at odds with another trend in college ball.  The three.

Streeter Lecka, Getty Images

I don’t believe there exists a more deflating a play in sports, than watching your basketball team lose its mind in the game’s final possession – jacking up a long-shot three when they need only a two.  I also don’t believe there exists a more idiotic play.  And yet?  Over the last four days, I watched scholarship athlete after scholarship athlete ignore the one point deficit, ignore the hand in their face, ignore the five to ten seconds left on the clock, ignore the fact that they have yet to hit a three this month and throw up the prayer – no doubt chasing the glory of the “Onions” moment.

Though many examples exist, the one that best fits the utter stupidity of these moments is brought to us by the Notre Dame – Xavier game.  Notre Dame’s implosion was something of a spectacle when, after having already lost a comfortable lead, they literally threw away the game – it was the Fighting Irish whom I spoke of earlier, unloading a pass thunder deep into the crowd when bringing the ball up the court with a one point lead.  The Irish would be given one final chance, however, inbounding the ball in the half court, with eight seconds left, and trailing by only one. With that much time you’d expect Mike Brey’s team to take some time, drive to the bucket and get a good look from close to the rim.  Those of you who pinned bracket hopes to Notre Dame had to feel confident.  I know I did…Until the first player to touch the ball hoisted up the tre without the slightest hesitation.  Brick City.  Rebound Xavier.  Game.  Bracket Devastation.

Are you kidding me?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  That shot hits at 45% when you’re on fire! When was the last time anyone from Notre Dame was on fire?!  I don’t care how good the look is, you could be the only one in the gym and still hit for less than 50%!  You think your chances are worse at the rim?!  I know I’m rambling like a crazy person – it’s March, I am a crazy person – but come on!  In the words of Jimmy Dugan from A League of Their Own, “You start using your head.  That’s that lump, that’s three feet above your ass!” (clip below).

If only this had been some isolated incident, if Notre Dame had been the only one.  But more than one team suffered this most depressing fate.  I watched more than one bracket selection fall to this ridiculousness.  So let’s make a new rule:  If you’re down three, than by all means, take the three.  But if you’re down one, or if you’re down two, and you don’t have Ray Allen’s stroke and Reggie Miller’s clutch ability, then for God’s sake.  Drive the lane.  Take the shot you actually make more often than not.  Please?

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