Duke basketball: Three reasons officiating often favors Blue Devils

Duke basketball (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball forward Matthew Hurt (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Conspiracy theories concerning alleged Duke basketball insider agreements with officials are cute, but three simple explanations exist for the perceived favoritism.

In hopes of preventing further moaning about Duke basketball teams “getting all the calls” — a pipe dream, I know — I’ve decided to shed some light on the subject by bringing to light what I’ve observed.

First, I’ll admit, in general over the years, Duke has been on the desired end of whistles more times than not. After all, numbers support the notion. Zebras have indeed charged the Blue Devils with 807 fewer fouls than their opponents since the start of the 2009-10 season (a difference of roughly two per game).

And I’ll even acknowledge that the current players were fortunate in the final seconds of the 70-65 home win over Florida St. on Monday night (see: the shoulder from Duke’s Matthew Hurt with the called foul on FSU’s Devin Vassell). Ditto for the 98-96 overtime road thriller over North Carolina two days prior (see: the non-call for Duke’s Wendell Moore after reaching for the ball against UNC’s Andrew Platek).

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That said, against both the Seminoles and Tar Heels, the Blue Devils were also on the undesired end of blatant missed calls, so I don’t buy that their inherent overall advantage when it comes to officiating has anything to do with money exchanging hands or TV ratings. In fact, I don’t at all support the accusation of intentional bias on the part of the officials.

Instead, what seems to be the case is that three factors, each relating to either Duke’s style of play or gamesmanship, are indeed at play. Therefore, once and for all, it’s time to take a look, one at a time, at the three reasons refs so often appear to err on the side of the Blue Devils…