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USATSI

The 2022 NCAA Tournament restarts Thursday night with four Sweet 16 games. If a referee gives anybody a technical for hanging on the rim, we should riot and end this madness once and for all.

No, I'm not serious. Let the record show I'm anti-riot.

But surely you understand, and possibly share, my frustration. Broadly speaking, the only people who had a worse opening week of the NCAA Tournament than Kentucky's John Calipari were the referees who became way too much of the story because of how they handled situations on the sport's biggest stage. The entire North Carolina vs. Baylor game was an embarrassment. The ongoing block-charge conundrum was never not a thing. The collision at the end of regulation in the Arizona vs. TCU game should've resulted in a foul or a backcourt violation but certainly not nothing, which is what the officials in that game called. Nothing.

Take a look for yourself.

For four straight days, it was one mess after another, and too much physical play, so much so that when I went on Ian Furness' radio show in Seattle on Tuesday afternoon, among the first questions he asked was whether college basketball has an officiating problem. My answer was more or less that him asking me about officiating when Duke's Mike Krzyzewski is coaching in his final NCAA Tournament, when Gonzaga is just two more wins away from another Final Four, and when WE HAVE FREAKING PEACOCKS IN THE SWEET 16 is evidence that college basketball has an officiating problem. The fact that people are talking about it this much, complaining about it this much, means it's an undeniable problem for the sport.

And do you know what I hated most?

It wasn't the way-too-physical UNC vs. Baylor game or the end of regulation in the Arizona vs. TCU game (though I did hate both of those things). What I actually hated most was when Illinois' RJ Melendez got a technical for hanging on the rim in the final nine minutes of a four-point game against Houston.

Are you kidding me?

Even according to the dumb rule that allows refs to give players technicals for hanging on rims, what Melendez did should not have been a technical. He was in transition and running fast. Like Reggie Miller explained in the clip, the safest way for Melendez to complete that dunk was to swing on the rim.

The ref who blew his whistle -- Brian O'Connell -- made a mistake. But the real crime here is that O'Connell even had to decide whether to blow his whistle and punish a player for hanging on a rim longer than somebody long ago decided was necessary. Seriously, why is this still a thing? Why should hanging on a rim, for however long, ever result in a technical foul?

I can't think of one good reason.

Wondering if I might have a blindspot, I actually asked the following question on Twitter late Wednesday: Does anybody have a good reason why players should get technicals for hanging on rims?

There were more than 100 replies. I read them all. Literally nobody provided what I would call a good reason. Most of the replies were rooted in some fear that players hanging on rims would cause them to bend or even break. That might've been true 20 years ago. But we have reached the point with technology where you could tell Illinois' Kofi Cockburn, all 7-foot and 285 pounds of him, to go dunk and try to break a rim, and he wouldn't be able to do it. At this level of basketball, that's not a legitimate concern anymore.

Some suggested hanging on the rim could be a form of taunting -- and I suppose it could be. But, honestly, I neither care about that nor find it worthy of a technical. If a player hangs on the rim and tells the opposing coach to do something to one of his body parts, sure, give him a technical. But merely hanging on the rim should never result in the opposing team shooting free throws.

"Guy dunks and does five pull-ups on the rim," somebody tweeted me. "All good?"

Yes, all good.

A player doing five pull-ups on the rim, or otherwise hanging for an excessive amount of time, already has an inherent penalty connected to it -- specifically that the opposition is now playing 5-on-4 the other way. If a player were to do it too often, or even once, his coach would address it the same way coaches address other situations where players don't get back on defense. So there's no reason for officials to be involved in trying to decide if a player hung on the rim excessively. As long as the player is off the rim in time to avoid a basket-interference call when a teammate takes the next shot, that's good enough for me.

Bottom line, this is an outdated rule that no longer serves a purpose. At the proper time, it needs to be removed from the books. In the meantime, the officials should ignore it, lest they risk actually determining the outcome of a high-stakes game for the dumbest reason possible.