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Column: have some sympathy for Iowa fans, one call CAN change everything

We go on a tour of awful refereeing decisions that really decided close games like the 87-78 UW win over Iowa on Thursday night.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Wisconsin
Poor Patrick McCaffery. Got robbed by the refs AND had this picture taken of him getting dunked on.
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Folks, I’m hearing that Wisconsin has been the focus of a lot of meaningless belly-aching — I mean — a refereeing travesty.

Yes, the last Badgers basketball game totally turned on a dime after a DISMAL foul called against sophomore Patrick McCaffery because that Villain of the Big Ten, seventeenth year senior Brad Davison *cue ominous music* kicked his leg out a little bit and McCaffery ran into it, leading to a foul during a three point shot and three free throws for Davison.

That foul, which happened with eight seconds left at the end of the first half, gave UW a 45-32 lead — that is 12 points for those who, like me, are bad at math. McCaffery and head coach Fran McCaffery (side note, that’s super interesting they share the same last name. Huh. What a weird coincidence!) were livid about this absolutely BOGUS SHAM of refereeing. The head coach was really giving it to the refs, and the other McCaffery said afterwards that the foul was a bad call.

The Badgers went on to win 87-78 — that’s a nine-point margin for those bad at quick math — in a game where the two stars — Keegan Murray for Iowa and Johnny Davis for Wisconsin shined — but the focus was on this call that swung the game afterwards. Twentieth year Iowa senior Jordan Bohannon was clearly affected by the call, scoring most of his 12 points in the last minute when the game was decided after that missed call.

Folks, it was a bad call. Sadly, those happen in basketball and football games. Referees are human, and really it sucks that such a tight, close basketball game — Wisconsin only had a 12-point lead at halftime, which eventually ballooned to 23 thanks to the after-effects of the call, in a game that saw one (1) lead change — was overshadowed by a bad, game-altering call.

Iowa fans, we understand your pain. That is why I compiled a list of some of the most egregious calls that have cost Wisconsin wins to show that sadly, sometimes...them’s the breaks.

5. Block call on Brad Davison with 8:07 left in first half against Michigan Jan. 12, 2021

As one of Michigan’s guards came flying into the paint on offense, Brad Davison did what he always does and attempted to draw a charge. The key word was attempted, because the refs called a block on the play, it was his first foul of the night.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 09 Wisconsin at Michigan
Getting in position to take a charge.
Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Upon further review, Davison clearly had his feet set and the foul should’ve gone the other way. The score at the time was 26-19, but Michigan wound up taking a 40-23 half time lead and won 77-54. Sure, Wisconsin let the Wolverines shoot over 50 percent from three in the first half, but this call was the difference to a Badger win over a highly-ranked Big Ten team.

4. Non-call on Kobe King foul shot with 14:29 left in first half against Purdue. Jan. 24, 2020

Kobe King pulled up for a jumper in the paint against the Boilermakers with the Badgers down 10-5. His arm got absolutely touched by the trailing guard, but the refs appeared to misplace their glasses and missed the obvious call.

Wisconsin v Purdue
King was so rattled by the non-call he couldn’t even stand up the rest of the game.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Purdue did go on an 18-4 scoring run in the first half to put the game out of reach and the Badgers were out-rebounded 42-16, but that was a key turning point and the reason Wisconsin lost.

3. Missed holding call against Ohio State with 1:23 left in first quarter. Oct. 26, 2019

This doesn’t just happen in basketball people! In the first quarter, Wisconsin had a decent shot at upsetting the highly touted Ohio State Buckeyes, with the score knotted at zero and both teams struggling offensively. On a 3rd and 6, Jack Coan threw a pass to Quintez Cephus that landed incomplete.

That led to a punt, and eventually OSU took a 10-0 halftime lead and won 38-7 as their rushing attack posted 264 yards while holding a Jonathan Taylor-led Badger rushing attack to just 83 yards.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 07 Big Ten Championship Game
Was this the egregious play in question? Well,,,it isn’t the correct game but maybe!
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

BUT, on that 3rd and 6 play, the pass had to go to Quintez Cephus because Danny Davis was being absolutely MUGGED by the OSU cornerback! It should’ve been a hold, and UW would have had a first down and totally change the game. Sadly, the Badgers were robbed.

2. Travel call against Marquette with 13:07 left in first half. Dec. 9, 2017

As Andrew Rowsey drained a three to put the Marquette Golden Eagles up 19-8 in the Kohl Center, I thought something must be up. There must be some joke.

That’s because Rowsey had clearly traveled as he gathered in for the three pointer. I frantically waved my arms in the travelling motion, but every Big Ten team’s favorite referee, Bo Boroski, stood idly by, allowing the points.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 09 Marquette at Wisconsin
Looks like a man getting ready to travel with the basketball. Smh, it was premeditated!
Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Marquette went on to win 82-63, but I know in my heart this missed call decided the game. Not that the Badgers were really under-manned this season and the Golden Eagles shot 64 percent from 3-point-land.

1. Holding against Ohio State. All game. Dec. 6, 2014

I know what you’re thinking: “Bremen! Have you lost your mind??? Ohio State won 59-0 in one of the most embarrassing beat downs that ever happened in college football. There was no way that one call — or a myriad of kind of iffy calls that possibly impacted some key plays or stopping some scores — would have ‘allowed’ Wisconsin to overcome a 59-0 toilet bowl of a game.”

Ohio State Buckeyes Vs. Wisconsin Badgers 10-29-2011
Those OSU jerseys are the real crime here, amirite folks?

That’s where I say: you’re wrong. Lots of folks say “you can call holding on every play,” and folks, that’s definitely what Urban Meyer’s cheating little Ohio State program did. THEY HELD EVERY PLAY. The refs did not call a single one!! No wonder the Buckeyes put up 558 yards. Their O-Line got away with everything.

I know it’s painful to relive these terrible calls Badger fans, but I just wanted to highlight that sometimes, bad calls can cost teams games on either side. These close, thrilling contests changed at one whistle or non-whistle.

And that’s really too bad.

I can’t believe I’m saying these words, but I sympathize with all three McCaffreys, Jordan Bohanan and all the Iowa fans who feel aggrieved by that missed call. Those three points clearly meant the difference in the nine-point victory for the Badgers. Let’s take them off the board. We’ll start the letter writing campaign to the Big Ten offices. Oh...it seems it has already been started in this since deleted tweet.

Erase those three points, and it’s only a six-point win.

That’s gotta be devastating.