In the drama of Monday’s NCAA men’s basketball championship, the NCAA’s decision to play its Final Four on a makeshift court at New Orleans’ Superdome suddenly became a cause of consternation.
Late in the game, North Carolina star Armando Bacot was driving to the basket with Kansas leading 70-69. Then, either fate or the floorboards intervened.
Bacot went down hard on his already injured right ankle, resulting in a turnover that gave Kansas the ball with 54 seconds left, according to The News & Observer. Bacot was forced to hobble off the court with the national championship on the line.
Kansas scored two more points while holding North Carolina scoreless for the rest of the game, giving the Jayhawks the NCAA title.
“I was just trying to drive to the basket,” said Bacot, who hurt his ankle in the Final Four game against Duke on Saturday. “And I just kind of unconsciously tried to go up off my right foot. And then that was the ankle that was injured. And I just rolled it again.”
But in the age of a zillion camera angles and slow-motion video, it appeared Bacot had help in reinjuring his ankle.
“Videos from that moment emerged with everyone wondering: Was it the Superdome court that was to blame?” Charles Curtis wrote for USA Today. “It looks like something on the court moved. Did the floor buckle? Was it loose?”
The jury of the Twittersphere largely agreed that it was — although basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb said courts are designed to “give and flex.”
Armando Bacot injured his ankle on a loose floorboard.
A LOOSE FLOORBOARD AT THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. pic.twitter.com/Ion0BCqly6
— Troy Machir (@TroyMachir) April 5, 2022
I hate to break it to people, but this is what courts are designed to do, they give and flex. They all do, you just don’t watch basketball in super slo-mo pic.twitter.com/KRJMUfnSS3
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) April 5, 2022
Ever since 2010, the Final Four has been played in football stadiums, which seat far more fans than basketball arenas. The NCAA installs everything from the court to the stands to the scoreboard.
Workers took three hours to install the hardwood court, which was made up of 4-by-7-foot wood panels, according to NOLA.com. The court was placed in the middle of the Superdome, home of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, and jacked up 29 inches over floor level.
“The idea is to transform the football-first stadiums that now host all Final Fours into more fan-friendly, basketball environments,” the outlet reported.
But as Jack Dougherty wrote for Sportscasting, some are saying it could be time to revisit that concept.
“These venues must build the courts from scratch, and they’re propped up on a platform for the best viewing experience for fans. Now, I’m not claiming to be a basketball court expert, but watching a makeshift floor give out on the most important play of the season can’t be comforting for North Carolina fans,” Dougherty wrote.
“It might be time to say goodbye to football stadium venues in the name of player safety.”