While certainly an important part of the game, the occupation of timekeeper in an NCAA Tournament basketball game is not one that requires a breath of education or skill. All you basically need to be able to do is push a button as soon as you hear a whistle.
Sadly, the NCAA has been unable to find a group of individuals who can accomplish this simple task with any effectiveness.
Repeatedly, high-stakes, high-energy basketball games from the first few rounds have been stopped several times inside of the final minute when timekeepers let precious seconds rattle off the clock after the ref's whistle. The oversights are as small as a half-second and have been as large as nine seconds. In most instances, the timekeeper stops the clock around two to three seconds after the ref has blown his whistle and raised his arm.
In the Oregon/Wisconsin "Third Round" matchup, the reaction-time of the finger on the button was reminiscent of a frat boy passed out in a hallway. With just under 20 seconds left in a fiercly close battle, a jump ball was called by the referees. The official timekeeper let another second and a half run off the clock, which took a five minute break to rectify as officials stared into a television screen at half court, only feet away from the very culprit who robbed the final moments of their flow.
Less than 10 seconds of gameplay later, the timekeeper was a full two seconds late stopping the clock after an intentional foul by Oregon. Another five minutes of everyone's life was robbed as the referees congregated and eventually determined the correct amount of time left.
At this point, after two egregious errors in front of a national television crowd slowed the game to a crawl, one would think that the timekeeper would been on their toes.
But a final desperation foul committed by Oregon became the third time-keeping mistake in the final 20 seconds of the game. The clock should have been stopped at about two seconds, but it was allowed to run down to 0.6 seconds. Evidently tired of beating a path to the scorer's table, the refs opted to ignore this infraction given the fact that a Wisconsin victory was clearly in hand.
Such a series of events in the Final Four Round could be riot-provoking, so the NCAA needs to get this sorted out and get capable fingers on the buttons, stat. If you're a person who can push a button when you hear a whistle, now is the perfect time to submit a resume.