Update April 3 9:20 p.m. Here are the referees for SDSU-UConn in the national championship: Ron Groover, Keith Kimble, Terry Oglesby
Update 6:20 p.m. Here are the referees for Saturday’s action
San Diego State-Florida Atlantic: John Higgins, Bert Smith, and Kipp Kissinger. You can see more about their season-long stats here.
UConn-Miami: Roger Ayers, Doug Sirmons, Jeffrey Anderson. Dan Hurley called Jeffrey Anderson “a #&)!ing clown” earlier this season after a game against Villanova. Their season-long stats are here as well.
With an NCAA Tournament that’s had as many close games as we’ve ever seen, many games are being decided by the whistle as much as the players.
Florida Atlantic is in the Final Four, but if a timeout had been correctly given in their first round game against Memphis, they’d be back on the beach in Boca Raton watching the national semifinals with everyone else. The margins of error in a sport with more parity than ever are razor-thin, and so who the NCAA chooses to make the calls in these games could determine who cuts down the nets on April 3 in Houston.
With that in mind, we’ve added some stats about the referee pool that has been named to work the 2023 Final Four in Houston below. These referees are considered the best of the best in college basketball, even if College Hoops Twitter doesn’t always agree.
Here is the full list of referees for the 2023 NCAA Final Four per the NCAA, alongside some stats available from both KenPom.com and NatStat.com about their performance this year.
KenPom’s Referee Average Thrill Score is the projected amount of excitement and importance a game should have before tip-off, and measures the Top 50 games an official has worked this season.
NatStat* lists the Total Fouls for each game, and is based on the calls made by all the officials in a game worked by that official. Nine of the officials below will work the games, and two are listed as alternates, but we don’t know who is who as of now.
*Currently NatStat lists four different Jeff Anderson’s (Jeff Anderson, Jeffery Anderson, Jeffrey Anderson, “Jefffery” Anderson... seriously), and they don’t seem to get every game, but we did the math below.
Jeff Anderson, West Henrietta, New York
83 games, 57.55 Thrill Score (22nd), 35.69 fouls per game
Roger Ayers, Roanoke, Virginia
95 games, 65.68 Thrill Score (6th), 31.60 fouls per game
Ron Groover, Newnan, Georgia
99 games, 62.59 Thrill Score (11th), 34.73 fouls per game
John Higgins, Omaha, Nebraska
99 games, 66.73 Thrill Score (4th), 32.22 fouls per game
Keith Kimble, Arlington, Texas
103 games, 69.78 Thrill Score (1st), 34.23 fouls per game
Kipp Kissinger, Omaha, Nebraska
97 games, 66.05 Thrill Score (5th), 31.99 fouls per game
Terry Oglesby, Maryville, Missouri
92 games, 67.13 Thrill Score (3rd), 33.98 fouls per game
Mike Reed, Mount Shasta, California
80 games, 54.34 Thrill Score (32nd), 33.48 fouls per game
Doug Sirmons, Virginia Beach, Virginia
98 games, 68.57 Thrill Score (2nd), 32.33 fouls per game
Bert Smith, Florence, Kentucky
98 games, 60.20 Thrill Score (16th), 33.03 fouls per game
Paul Szelc, Lawrence, Kansas
83 games, 64.89 Thrill Score (7th), 34.62 fouls per game
It seems pretty clear in the Final Four matchups who will want which refs. If you’re FAU facing a very physical San Diego State team, you’ll probably be looking for officials that blow the whistle a bit more often. The same for Miami, as they’ll want more calls overall being made against UConn considering the post play and physicality of the Huskies at the rim.
So if you’re UConn and SDSU, you’ll want to see Roger Ayers and Kipp Kissinger walking out of the tunnel. And if you’re either one of the Florida teams, having Ron Groover and Paul Szelc with the whistle is probably a good thing for you.
Odds to to win 2023 NCAA Championship from DraftKings Sportsbook
San Diego State +400
Florida Atlantic +650