Bizarre call allows Duke to cover spread against Utah

Something was very bizarre about the way the Duke-Utah game ended.
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By Larry Brown

The referees in charge of the Duke-Utah NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game on Friday pulled nothing short of a shady move that also happened to help the Blue Devils cover the spread.

Duke won the game by six points 63-57 to cover the spread that ranged from 4.5 to 5.5 points at most books. The Blue Devils were up 62-57 when time expired and it looked like they would walk away with a five-point win, which would have resulted in a push or lost bet in many cases for Duke bettors. However, after Utah players had already left the floor, the referees decided that they committed a foul in the final second of the game. The refs called the Utes players back onto the floor from the locker room and forced them to finish out the game with 0.7 seconds left.

The foul they determined was committed by Utah put Quinn Cook at the free throw line for Duke. He made one of two free throws and gave Duke a 63-57 lead which covered the spread. 

The game was already over with Duke having won 62-57. Putting Duke at the free throw line and adding 0.7 seconds left was not going to change which team won. The only thing it would change was the point spread. 

People can close their eyes to this sort of thing, but we all know that referees have been involved in gambling scandals (remember this guy?). I cannot think of any reason why they would have decided so long after the fact to call a foul, add time to the clock, and put Duke at the free throw line. Someone involved in officiating that game was motivated by having Duke cover the spread. It was too obvious.

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