GameChangers (03/21/14)

By John Ewing
GameChangers, a look at plays that changed the outcome of the NCAA Tournament. If you have a suggestion for a GameChanger please direct all ideas via twitter to @johnewing.


 
To highlight the Live ScoreCaster, we will take our in-game technology, Live ScoreCaster, to the next level to review the game-changing plays from March Madness and what the game would have looked like if the plays had turned out differently. 
 
Click the links for each game to see the Live ScoreCaster charts as well as more analysis in the new Game Breakdown section.
 
Duke vs. Mercer
 
It’s one and done for the Blue Devils for the second time in three years. Duke was the projected winner for 38:06 (95% of the game). Mercer used a 20-5 run at the end of the game to stun the No. 3 seed from the Midwest.
 
There wasn’t one play that won the game for the Bears; Mercer shot 55.6% from the field and 82.1% from the free throw line. However, a play at the end of the game could haunt Duke.
 
With Duke trailing 69-66 with 0:46 left in the 2nd half, Mercer attempted a full court pass from under its own basket on an inbounds play. The pass was completed and the Bears got an easy layup to make it a five point game and give Mercer a 70% chance of winning. Had the pass resulted in a turnover, Duke would have had a 41% chance of winning in a one possession game.
 
Stanford vs. New Mexico
 
Stanford started the game making eight of its first ten shots on its way to a 20-4 run. Game over, right? The Cardinal were only 65% likely to win despite the hot start and the double-digit lead.
 
New Mexico tied it midway through the 2nd half but a scoreless drought, from the 10:07 to the 3:18 mark, ended the Lobos’ hope of advancing to the next round. New Mexico’s odds of winning decreased from 55.4% to 22.9%.
 
Survive and Advance
 
Arizona and Creighton will both be moving on to the next round in the NCAA Tournament, as you would expect. However, neither team did so in convincing fashion.
 
Arizona allowed Weber State to stay within nine with less than three minutes to play and Creighton trailed at the midway point in the second half. However, the Wildcats were never less than 88% likely to win and the Bluejays were never less than 70% likely to win with less than ten minutes to play.