The NCAA informs me (through a detailed excel sheet) that the average fouls per team in this year's tournament are not substantially different from the regular season. The excel sheet, though, only goes back to the 2003 tournament.
I'm reproducing the numbers here:
2003 regular season: 19.1 fouls per team. Tournament: 18.2
2004 regular: 19.0 fouls. Tournament: 18.3
2005 regular: 18.6 fouls. Tournament: 18.3
2006 regular: 18.4 fouls. Tournament: 17.5
2007 regular: 18.7 fouls. Tournament: 18.6
2008 regular: 18.6 fouls. Tournament to date: 18.3
There are lies, damned lies and statistics. Another way of reading those numbers is that fouls are up 4.6 percent from two years ago, and that the current average (18.3) ties for second-most since 2003.
I think the interesting thing is that tournament fouls are down compared to regular-season fouls each season. That's how I grew up watching the tournament, seeing the players express themselves instead of the officials. It just seems more constrictive this year.
Anyway, unless the zebras muck up the action here in Phoenix (West Regional) consider the case closed.