March Madness lived up to its name, at least on Twitter, with plenty of unhappy customers lamenting the outcome of Thursday night’s Sweet 16 matchup between Gonzaga and Arkansas. With Warriors All-Star Steph Curry in attendance, the top-seeded Bulldogs lost a heartbreaker in San Francisco, falling to the Razorbacks in a game marred by questionable officiating.
Arkansas benefited from a number of close calls, including an instance where senior guard Au’Diese Toney appeared to step out of bounds but wasn’t whistled for it, leading to a Razorbacks three-pointer moments later.
Spectators were also scratching their heads at a second-half foul charged to Gonzaga seven-footer Chet Holmgren, a projected lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.
Without their best player (that was Holmgren’s fifth foul), the Zags’ comeback hopes were dead on arrival with Arkansas handing Gonzaga only its fourth loss of the season.
The Razorbacks are headed to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1995, but many in the social media-sphere aren’t convinced they deserve to be there, citing gifts like a late non-call that led to a missed layup by Drew Timme (though others would argue Timme initiated the contact). Fans took similar umbrage with a foul called on the floor instead of in the act of shooting, denying Andrew Nembhard the opportunity for a three-point play with 1:27 remaining.
With betting interests involved (fewer than eight percent of brackets had Arkansas moving on), these criticisms can all be taken with a major grain of salt. Still, with the stakes this high, the refs picked an awfully bad night to have an off game, with some wondering if this was all an elaborate scheme to help Coach K reach the Final Four in his final NCAA Tournament.
The Razorbacks will face either Duke or Texas Tech in Saturday’s Elite Eight, with the winner advancing to New Orleans, site of this year’s Final Four.