Seeing a sport played expertly by playersin their physical peak can be a thing of beauty; an ideal representation of the game as itwas meant to be.
Nowhere is that more true than college basketball.
But sometimes, a game can be played so badly, so fundamentally rotten at its core, it makes you wonder why anybody attempts to play itat all.
One such game happened in 2019 — the typeof game so stupefyingly bad, so antithetical to the very Platonic ideal of basketball itself, that everyone who witnessed it instantly knew they had just watched.
The Worst College Basketball Game.
February 2nd, 2019.
Raleigh, North Carolina.
The 12th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies havetraveled to North Carolina to take on the 23rd-ranked Wolfpack.
NC State comes into this game 16-5, but they’restill looking for a marquee win to stay on track and prove they deserve to make it intothe tournament.
Just last week, they took third-ranked Virginiathe distance, losing by just 1 in overtime.
Three days before that, Wolfpack guard BraxtonBeverly dusted off Clemson with a 3PT buzzer beater.
They’ve got talent, and the chance hereto make a statement.
Virginia Tech is 17-3 and also looking tokeep up their momentum heading into February.
The Hokies are good on offense, but they’recoming into the game without their star guard Justin Robinson, who suffered a toe injuryagainst Miami in the game prior, and an otherwise thin bench.
It’ll be a challenge, but a road win herefor Tech would be huge.
So, this is a big game for both teams whoare jockeying for position in a competitive ACC.
Also, these teams are first and 3rd in theACC in shooting, which is worth mentioning, especially in a conference dominated by powerhouseprograms like Duke, UVA, and UNC.
The game starts, and the Hokies kick thingsoff with a jumper from Kerry Blackshear.
The Wolfpack respond with one in kind fromCJ Bryce.
You’ve just witnessed the only points thateither of these teams will make in the first 7 minutes of this game.
Though you are about to see it with your owneyes, it’s impossible to account for why these teams just cannot put the ball intothe hoop.
Except, maybe they were jinxed by Evan Leplerand Brian Oliver, who tell us 3 minutes into the game, “both of these teams are topsin the league in scoring, and you’re going to see a frenetic pace of going back and forth…” And oh, how those teams go back and forth.
What exactly happens over the following 5minutes of game time? Only this:Foul and a turnover.
Miss, foul, miss.
Turnover, on this absolutely hilarious out-of-boundspass from Markell Johnson “Goodness gracious! Someone was open but he was in the third row.
Miss, offensive rebound, foul on NC state, turnover.
Miss Turnover And that, by the way, is VT’s seventh turnoverof the game so far.
There is, if nothing else, some defense.
Now, before we finally get to the next pointsof this game, I want you to take a look at NC State’s last possession before that happens.
We’ve got: a missed three point jumper byBraxton Beverly, Wyatt Walker with the offensive rebound, back to Beverly for a missed jumper, then a missed tip and a missed put-back attempt by Walker.
Phew! “Four chances, none of them convert.
” That sound you hear from the crowd after allthis is the same exact sound you hear from an audience dealing with a frustrating contestanton the Price is Right.
Help her audience, she needs help.
“[indistinct audience yelling] We’re almost at the much-hyped debut ofa second made shot by either of these teams.
But first, I just want to quickly point outthe stat line graphic that the broadcast puts up right before it happens.
That is crazy.
Here, finally, with 12:54 left in the half, the Hokie’s Isaiah Wilkins nails a 3-pointer, and the home crowd cheers simply because theyfinally saw a basketball thing happen.
At this point, the analysts would like toremind you AGAIN that these are: “two of the better field goal shooting teams- ranked 1st and 3rd – in the conference, ” almost as if to apologize and swear that thisdoesn’t usually happen.
And once again, this comment gives our boyssome performance anxiety and nobody scores for nearly another 4 minutes.
Somewhere in there, the broadcast gives usthis wonderful tableau of the terminally bored NCSU band.
I’m going to pause this here so you canpick out your favorite — this one’s mine because I know how much it sucks to wear yourbest hat out on the town for nothing.
Later, with 7:30 left in the half, a Hokies3-point jumper brings the game to 13-6, and the Wolfpack respond with another brutal possessionconsisting of 5 shots, and 5 misses.
“Can the Wolfpack pay it off? They cannot.
” A few more feeble attempts at scoring arepunctuated by some actual buckets, but eventually both teams limp into halftime with a combined34 points, a score of 20-14 — the fewest combined points in a half that PNC Arena hasever seen.
But yes, despite NC State’s abysmal shootingperformance, they’ve managed to keep it within 6.
On to the second half, where NC State quicklytreats us to yet another impotent possession with multiple shots that result in nothing, including yet another miss from Braxton Beverly, who is scoreless so far today.
“Sooner or later we’re gonna realize thatBeverly’s gonna start knocking down those shots, you’re playing with fire if you’reVirginia Tech, leaving him open.
” “He’s such a good shooter, you have toimagine it’s gonna break through.
” That assumption is… incorrect.
At one point, the broadcast, in a moment ofrelative quiet, picks up a frustrated fan who acutely expresses what we’re all thinking:“It’s called basketball! Let’s play it!” Friend, this is not basketball.
This is something darker.
That brings us to 6:50 left in the game, andI want you to really take in this Torin Dorn lay-up, as it will be NC State’s last fieldgoal of the game.
They’ll score two more points on free throwsbefore the game is up, but I think it’s kind of neat that they managed to bookendthis game — 11 minutes at the beginning and 7 at the end for a total 18 minutes — withonly a single made shot.
And that’s kind of it.
The analysts wonder aloud:“Could this be the lowest scoring game in Woflpack history?” It’s close.
The band gallantly sticks around to play onefinal dirge for a mostly empty arena, and this game, such as it is, is over.
The final score? 47 to 24.
Yes, that is a real basketball score.
Here are a few things that are true: the Wolfpackwent 9-for-54 in this game, a shooting percentage of 16.
That is the lowest percentage in the historyof the ACC, which was formed in 1953.
You’d think they would make some adjustmentsat halftime, but in fact, the Wolfpack shot .
194 in the first half, then dropped to .
Braxton Beverly went 0-12 from the field and0-9 from behind the arc, a big fat goose-egg of a game for him.
It’s the lowest scoring game NC State hashad in a regular season game since Dwight D Eisenhower was president.
It was the lowest scoring game of any rankedDivision 1 school since the shot clock was established in 1985.
But a question remains: is this truly theworst college basketball game of all time? There are thousands of NCAA games that getplayed every year, and basketball has been played at colleges for the better part ofa century.
Surely there are other contenders.
Take for instance the 2011 NCAA Championshipbetween Butler and UConn, which ended with the fewest combined points in a championshipgame since 1949.
Or perhaps a 2013 game between Northern Illinoisand Eastern Michigan, which — well, you know what, I’ll let eyewitness Jon Bois tellyou about that one.
Jon? 2013, Northern Illinois vs.
Eastern Michigan, there are three things I want to tell you about this game.
The first is that Northern Illinois scoredfour points in the entire first half.
The second is they went 1-33 from the three-pointrange and only hit their one with two minutes left in the game.
The third, my personal favorite, one of thosethrees was an airball.
A Northern Illinois player was supposed torebound it – he was underneath the net – he watches it come down, instead of putting hishands up, he puts them down slack at his sides, he watches as the ball hit him in the chestand bounces out of bounds.
Greatest game ever.
Total stinkers to be sure, but there’s somethingto be said for a game in which the play-by-play guys turn on these kids early and often:“I swear to god…” “This is really bizarre…” “Two teams that can really score.
Believe us, please.
” “We’d understand if you’d like to avertyour eyes.
But like any good train wreck, sometimes itcan just be impossible to tear yourself away.
So, the next time you fail miserably at themost basic task expected of you, just remember that one time, and not very long ago, an entirecollege basketball program was incapable of accomplishing even the most basic elementof the game: putting the ball in the basket.
And you know what? Life goes on.
Thanks for watching.
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