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Logic And Duke Hating Don't Go Together

Sometimes it's just amazing.

Marshall Plumlee, getting all the calls
Marshall Plumlee, getting all the calls
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

As Duke fans, along with the success you have to deal with a certain amount of lunacy. For today's entry let's look at something called Sportige where we find this, emphasis ours:

"One of the least surprising things anyone can hear when it comes to ACC basketball is Duke getting a wrong call in their favor. It happened again when they faced Maryland, beating the Terps 69-67, and getting a possession call going their way which in hindsight might have decided the game...Was this done on purpose? Probably not. But the ACC won’t give the win, possession or time back to Maryland, while another dubious and suspicious decision goes the predictable way without a shred of good reason for it."

This is an excellent teaching opportunity and the subject is common sense. Ready? Here we go!

Although the writer is careful to say that it was "probably not" done on purpose, the rest of the sentence practically screams the opposite: "another dubious and suspicious decision goes the predictable way without a shred of good reason for it."

The mononymous author, Morgan really swings for the fences here and implies a pattern of misconduct. But whose misconduct?

Surely he doesn't mean that Duke arranged for this. Can we agree that Duke does not exercise sufficient control over the officials or the ACC to do this?

So is he suggesting that the officials got it wrong on purpose? Somebody must have because it was dubious, suspicious and predictable. In other words, this sort of thing happens all the time for Duke.

So are ACC officials acting of their own accord to make Duke look better? That, too, seems unlikely. Take Karl Hess, Jamie Luckie, Les Jones and Roger Ayers. Hess and Ayers work the ACC and the Big East. Luckie works the ACC and SEC, as does Jones. Most officials work more than one conference. They are paid several hundred dollars a night, for argument's sake, let's say $500.

Ayers did 98 games last season, which works out to somewhere around $50,000, on the assumption that post-season pays a bit more. That's a pretty solid second income, be a shame to lose it for essentially throwing a game. You'd risk fraud charges too. Even a rumor of that would kill the assignments from other conferences.

So: self-destructive. Agreed?

So it's not the refs. So maybe the ACC?

Well, who is the ACC? It's 15 schools. Of  those 14 other schools, which has an incentive to help skew things Duke's way? UNC? Syracuse? Maryland? The school which is suing the others? Man, that's a conspiracy killer.

Maybe ESPN? That's at least conceivable. ESPN would have an incentive to promote Duke, since Duke is one of the most watched teams. But if ESPN were tampering with the officials, we're back to a previous problem: how much would you have to pay them to pull that conspiracy off? And how would you keep it quiet? The truth is that conspiracies are exceptionally hard to conceal, and the more people involved, the harder it gets. The ideal number for a conspiracy?

Two. currently lists 23 ACC officials. Is there a scale? Do you pay Karl Hess more than William Humes? Is there a hush money fund?

The more you think about this logically, the stupider it gets. Because if the refs aren't doing it on their own, and if neither the ACC nor ESPN is in what would be a criminal conspiracy, how does it work? What exactly happens? Who manages this?

Seriously. We'd really like a rational, point-by-point explanation about how it works. Because it keeps coming up, idiots like Morgan keep muttering things like "dubious," "suspicious" and "predictable, but never offer, well, "a shred of good reason" for anything.

It's just sort of ingrained now, the great "they." They did it to Maryland, they did it for Duke. But who are they? The Illuminati? The Knights Templar? The Trilateral Commission?

When you get to that point, it just sort of trails off into dark looks and off-stage muttering. Like most conspiracy theories - and this thin gruel should embarrass even conspiracy theorists - when you start asking sensible questions, it falls apart.

The truth is usually very simple. The first element: people make mistakes. The second element: better teams are more likely to get calls, although not this particular call, which was weird. Review the first element.

The reasons why better teams tend to get calls are pretty straightforward: they usually have more talented players who have better fundamental skills and better coaching.

You could certainly argue that a good team like Duke, in a boisterous arena like Cameron, tends to work subconsciously on an official's mind and creates an unintentional bias. On some level, you expect, say, Shane Battier to make a smart play. You're surprised when Tyler Ennis does something stupid at a critical juncture.

That we could believe, and it might even be quantifiable. Someone who understands game theory could probably get a pretty good Ph.D thesis out of it.

But "[t]he ACC won’t give the win, possession or time back to Maryland, while another dubious and suspicious decision goes the predictable way without a shred of good reason for it?"

That's not an argument, that's paranoia, and it falls apart at the slightest inquiry.