Playing without two starters in its lineup, Minnesota still managed to secure a 58-55 victory over Virginia Tech Wednesday in Minneapolis, part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
But according to the Big Ten, an official’s crucial backcourt violation call in the closing seconds was the wrong ruling and the referee who made the call will be disciplined because Robert Brown, who tried to catch the inbounds pass, never established possession.
“The Big Ten Conference announced (Friday) that it has disciplined a men's basketball official for misapplying a rule in the final seconds of the Virginia Tech-Minnesota game played on Wednesday evening,” the statement read. “The misapplication of Rule 4 Section 3, back court/front court, occurred with 9.9 seconds remaining in regulation.”
Down 56-55 with 9.9 seconds on the clock, Virginia Tech’s Dorian Finney-Smith tossed the ball to Brown on the inbounds. Brown bobbled the pass and the ball crossed halfcourt. An official blew the whistle, signaling a backcourt violation.
But Rule 4, Section 3, Article 6 of the NCAA rulebook says, “After the throw-in ends, an inbounds player in the front court, who is not in control of the ball, may cause the ball to go into the back court.”
The Gophers regained possession after that call and Julian Welch knocked down a pair of free throws to seal the victory.
It was a crucial game for the Hokies, who’ve fallen into the “snubbed” category for the NCAA tournament multiple times in recent years. A road loss to a Minnesota squad that played without starters Ralph Sampson III and Trevor Mbakwe could hurt their resume in March.
So the frustration that the call spurred among Hokies fans is certainly understandable.