A Ryan Arcidiacono three-pointer with seconds remaining in regulation forced overtime in Philadelphia, an opportunity of which the Villanova Wildcats took advantage in shocking Syracuse with a 75-71 victory.
It was Villanova's second win over a top-five foe after a stunning 73-64 win over Louisville on Tuesday, and it never should have happened. Despite the preponderance of evidence and statistics showing the advantages of a team leading by three to foul its trailing opponent in the final seconds of a game, Orange head coach Jim Boeheim instructed his team not to foul.
The strategy might have appeared to work, as Villanova's James Bell missed the three-pointer to tie with eight seconds remaining. But Syracuse failed to snatch the rebound, allowing the Wildcats' Mouphtaou Yarou to grab the board and dish it quickly to Arcidiacono who hoisted up an awkward, but effective, game-tying shot.
For some reason the debate still exists whether teams up three should foul late to prevent a game-tying three-pointer. To us, this argument seems as pointless as claiming Earth is flat. Just because we can perceive of ways fouling late can backfire does not mean that strategy should not be used; the reality is that a team's probability of losing increases fourfold if they don't foul.
We've addressed how stupid highly-paid football coaches can be at using suboptimal strategies in the past, both on the field and off it. Basketball coaches have the reputation of being more forward-thinking, but the late-game strategy in this case is so obviously weighed toward the optimal choice it's sort of mind-blowing anyone—let alone one of the legendary coaches of his sport—is still making the wrong one. [ESPN]