Connor Cashaw literally could’ve flipped the basketball to the Marquette defender in front of him, like a hot potato. He could’ve dropped the ball just inside the court and took off running for the locker room. He could’ve ordered his four teammates to cluster in the lane, then tossed the ball up like a mini-Hail Mary.

He could’ve done almost anything ... except throw the ball out of bounds without being touched. Greg McDermott had a timeout with 0.8 seconds left to discuss all of these options. Yet the Jays ran an ordinary inbounds play that went haywire.

“This one’s on me,” said McDermott, whose win probability peaked at 99.9 percent.

If there existed a hall of shame for this kind of thing, Wednesday’s gaffe would be featured. How did Creighton lose that game? How did Creighton lose that game!

Considering the subsequent events in overtime, and Markus Howard’s 53-point performance, and the fact the shot was probably late — video evidence was inconclusive — it’s one of the worst gut-punch losses I’ve ever seen. It's made even worse because it might end up knocking CU out of the NCAA tournament.

Like me, you’ve probably watched thousands of basketball games. How many have produced an ending so stunning and so avoidable?

My mind immediately went to USC-Oregon, when the Trojans trailed by five with 2.8 seconds left and won in regulation.

Kansas State-Colorado 2003 is awful, too.

Then, of course, there’s Wahoo-Pius 1989.

What sets this one apart? McDermott had a timeout to explicitly tell Cashaw what to do — and what not to do. It’s counterintuitive to order a player to commit a turnover, but all Cashaw had to do was throw the ball inside the arc. All four Jays should’ve been inside the lane, arms at their sides. Toss the ball in their direction and the game is over.

Of course, this is why we watch. This is why we don’t leave for the parking lot or shut the game off before it’s over. Because one in 1,000 times, something ridiculous happens.

You just hope it doesn’t happen to your team.

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>> Following the college football finale Monday night, I asked Twitter followers who would be the next program not named Alabama or Clemson to win a national title. The responses were interesting.

Lots of folks voted Nebraska, of course. But other than NU, the top vote-getter was Georgia, then Oklahoma, followed by Texas and Florida.

Those are all fine picks. You know who was conspicuously absent from the list? Ohio State.

People must really think the Buckeyes are going to fall without Urban Meyer.

>> If you’re looking for the single most obvious case of SEC bias ever, may I present the final USA Today coaches poll for 2018.

The team just outside the top 25, with 102 votes, is Iowa. The Hawkeyes went 9-4, including four last-minute defeats to Wisconsin, Penn State, Purdue and Northwestern.

Who’s one spot ahead of the Hawkeyes at No. 25? The team that Iowa beat in the Outback Bowl.

Mississippi State.

Now, we can’t just rank every bowl winner ahead of every bowl loser, that’s true. But the Bulldogs are 8-5. They have one win over a ranked team, Texas A&M.

What about Georgia-Texas? Isn’t that another case? Georgia was indeed one spot ahead of the Longhorns in the final coaches poll. But the Bulldogs are 11-3, compared to Texas’ 10-4. I can forgive that one.

But Mississippi State-Iowa is just good, old-fashioned SEC bias.

>> Look, I have no issues with Kliff Kingsbury deciding to jump ship on USC after accepting its offensive coordinator position. The Arizona Cardinals head coaching position is a big deal. Nor do I have a problem with Manny Diaz leaving Temple within a week to take Miami’s head job.

But can coaches please remember Kingsbury and Diaz the next time they criticize some 18-year-old kid for reneging on a commitment, or some 20-year-old who opts to transfer? College athletes have 4-5 years to maximize their experience. I’m not saying they’re always right to leave.

But if coaches have the right, then athletes certainly should, too.

>> Speaking of double standards, this case of basketball phenom Maori Davenport is generating all kinds of national attention, as it should.

>> I have a lot of bad ideas. But one of my best (I think) is moving the six biggest college basketball conference tournaments to the weekend after college football’s championship game. That's ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.


It would be a jolt of midseason publicity at a time when college basketball really needs it. Casual fans don’t pay much attention during football season.

It would shine a brighter light in early March on the mid- and low-major conference tournaments. Those are the games that matter most because those teams don’t make the Big Dance without winning their leagues.

It would increase motivation for Top-25 teams to win their conference tournaments. Michigan State doesn’t really care if it wins the Big Ten tournament in March. Kentucky doesn’t really care if it wins the SEC tournament. Those events are merely tune-ups for the NCAAs. In fact, some coaches (and fans) would rather lose early in their conference tournament to get more rest.

But if you hold the tournament in January, then you’ll get everyone’s best shot. The automatic bid actually means more before anyone is an NCAA lock.

Historically, the idea isn’t without precedent. The Big Eight used to hold a holiday hoops tournament in Kansas City, though it didn’t attach an automatic bid. High schools use the same concept with their conference tournaments.

Now, you might say the idea removes the incentive for a bad team in a big league. Why would Rutgers or DePaul keep trying without the possibility of an automatic bid? But how often do those teams actually make a conference tournament run anyway?

If bad college football teams can finish their regular season with dignity, so can bad basketball teams. Besides, wouldn’t those players rather finish their seasons (and careers) on their home courts than in a play-in game at a neutral site?

I wish one conference would experiment with the idea. It wouldn’t be the ACC or Big East, where the tournament actually carries weight. How ‘bout the Pac-12? That league could use a little buzz right now.

>> I appreciate the feedback to the blog Monday about my 8-year-old playing outside on a 60-degree day. I’d like to summarize some of those responses and include them in the next Mad Chatter. In case you missed it, check the bottom of this blog.

>> A fun stat for you: Tom Brady and Drew Brees will start playoff games Sunday at 41 and 39 years old, respectively — Brees turns 40 next week. How many NFL head coaches are younger than them?


Kliff Kingsbury (August 1979)

Matt LaFleur (November 1979)

Kyle Shanahan (December 1979)

Sean McVay (January 1986)

Brady is actually older than six coaches, including Adam Gase (March 1978) and Matt Nagy (April 1978).

That’s crazy to me.

>> Finally, Husker hoops. Nebraska is 6-0 at home against Penn State since joining the Big Ten. Even when the Huskers are terrible, they beat Penn State in Lincoln. So I don’t anticipate any drama.

I still think Nebraska goes 8-2 or better at home in conference play. But look at the gantlet of teams coming to Lincoln.

Michigan State (third nationally in KenPom)

Ohio State (27th)

Wisconsin (13rd)

Maryland (21st)

Minnesota (57th)

Northwestern (60th)

Purdue (17th)

Iowa (35th)

In other words, the Huskers better win tonight.