Do Media Refs Do This Too? It Would Explain a Lot

24 11 2009

If “winning” and not good governance is all the most vicious partisans care about, their political game plan would look just like the Illini’s foul play and it would work out for them, especially on tv. A theory with excellent predictive value!

ESPN dot com
November 23, 2009
Associated Press

They don’t all need glasses. But if you always suspected basketball referees are biased — well, you’re right, according to a couple of professors who’ve studied the matter.

Refs favor the home team, the academics say. They’re big on “make-up” calls. They make more calls against teams in the lead, and the discrepancy grows if the game is on national TV.

The professors studied 365 college games during the 2004-05 season and found that refs had a terrific knack for keeping the foul count even, regardless of which team was more aggressive.

Exhibit A: The 2005 Final Four meeting between Illinois and Louisville. The Illini, known for being more aggressive defensively, got whistled for the first seven fouls. By the end of the game, the foul count was Louisville 13, Illinois 12. The Illini won 72-57.

Results like this were the norm across all the games the professors studied from that season — from the Big East to the ACC to the Big Ten and all 63 NCAA tournament games.

The take-home message for coaches: The more aggressive your teams the better because, in the end, the foul count is going to be about even no matter what.

It helps explain, the professors say, why college basketball has gotten increasingly physical over the past 25 years.

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