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Big Ten and MAC to experiment with block/charge reviews

NCAA Final Four Kansas Ohio St Basketball

Ohio State head coach Thad Matta calls out to an official during the second half of an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game against Kansas Saturday, March 31, 2012, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


More instant replay is coming to college basketball, albeit in a rather narrow avenue to start.

The Big Ten and the MAC have approval to allow for instant replay in instances of block/charge calls dealing with the restricted area at the end of conference games, it was announced Tuesday,

Instant replay, which in this instance will only apply to Big Ten and MAC conference games, will be available in the final two minutes of both regulation and overtime periods. It can only be used to determine whether or not a player was in the restricted area when a foul is called, not to make a judgement call on whether a defender was set or not.

It cannot be used on no-calls. Reviews can be initiated by a coach’s appeal or if an official believes a call was incorrect. If a coach appeals and it is determined the call was correct, that coach’s team will be charged a timeout.

“The (NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules) committee believes allowing the two conferences to experiment with the rule during conference games will provide data that will be useful in helping the committee decide during its meeting next year whether making a permanent rules change is appropriate,” the NCAA said in a statement.

While this experiment will allow for controversial calls to be corrected, it’s also fair to wonder at what cost. The end of college basketball games are already a slog with timeouts, fouls and existing replay reviews.

Is expanding replay good for the overall health of the sport if it makes what should be the most exciting part of the game slow, anticlimactic and antiseptic? The sport already acknowledged issues with the length of games and the protractedness of end-of-game situations when it limited teams to three second-half timeouts last year.

It’s hard to argue against getting more calls correct, it really does seem silly to even contemplate it, but it’s also hard to ignore how difficult some of these end-of-game scenarios can be to watch and enjoy.