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How Does The Clock Really Work?

Feb 20, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT

Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 1.42.05 PM

Near the end of last night’s basketball game between #1 Indiana and #4 Michigan State, it appeared the Breslin Center clock operator made an embarrassing blunder.

On back-to-back plays with under 30 seconds to play, the clock failed to start. First, on a Michigan State possession, and later, as the Hoosiers tried to inbound the ball.

As the referees went to the review monitor, viewers across the nation took to Twitter (as they so often do), throwing jabs at the unidentified MSU clock operator for failing to start the clock at a crucial time in a close game.

Though the game had nothing to do with Notre Dame, we work in an athletics office, so naturally, it was a topic of discussion in the office this morning.

In talking with Fighting Irish Digital Media associate producer (and resident technology geek) Gary Paczesny, I learned that, in fact, every fan’s favorite target – the officating crew – may have actually been at fault.

As Gary pointed out, Note 11 in the Rules Supplement section of the 2011-12 and 2012-13 NCAA Basketball Men’s and Women’s Rules states,

It is recommended that all men’s Division I arenas provide a timing mechanism that enables the officials to start and stop the game clock automatically.

Using the Precision Time System, on-court officials can start and stop the clock on their own. The time can be started using a belt pack and stopped by the blow of a whistle.

I began to wonder if the Spartans are not among the teams that use the technology, but according to the Precision Time System site, MSU has adopted it, as have most of the other Big Ten schools.

By that measure, it looks like there were a few people snoozing during crunch time.

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