I'm getting a little tired of the tone of talking heads when discussing fouling in end of game situations. I understand this can be a good strategy in certain situations, but it's no guarantee of victory as the people I have heard recently seem to portray it to be. There seemed to be tons of this in response to the UW vs MI game. In that game both teams had fouls to give after the game was tied, and both coaches took criticism for not fouling. Since both Hardaway and Brust made ridiculous shots, those criticisms seem more valid to casual fans. Since end of game situations get all the publicity, every time someone makes a shot in this situation the criticism will come and be heard. What isn't heard is the 99% of the time those shots harmlessly miss.
Again, I don't have a problem with the fouling strategy, my problem is that people talk about it as if it is a sure thing that if a coach tells his players to foul, then victory is guaranteed. I don't think there is any significant difference in going either way. There are a ton of things that can go wrong when a coach tells his players to foul. In the Michigan game both coaches actually did instruct their players to foul in certain situations (if the player isn't shooting) but Bruiser didn't get the foul called, and MI didn't get a good opportunity. Basketball has a major human element that makes this strategy a lot harder than it sounds.
If UW had fouled as the clock got low, it wouldn't have eliminated OSU's chance for a game winning shot. The idea is that by fouling you break up the play they have called and force them to start over with an inbound pass. This in theory, will lead to a harder shot, and less chance to make it. I'm not sure this part of the theory is even correct, as many coaches (I'm thinking specifically of Izzo here) have a number of great in bounds plays that create good shots for their team. In any case I doubt the possibly worse shot created from this scenario makes a significant difference in win-loss outcome. The shot Hardaway took was very difficult and I find it hard to believe UW could have forced a much tougher shot than what he took.
On the MI side, Beilein wanted to foul being up 3 points with fouls to give. Seems good except Brust caught and got off the shot very fast and MI couldn't foul. If they had, MI risked flaw #2 in this theory- the refs fuck up. How much flak would Beilein have got if the refs we see mess up all the time, had called a foul on a half court shot that would have given UW 3 free throws to tie the game. Is MI better off letting a long prayer shot fly, or taking a chance a ref wants a little extra camera time.
How about when a team fouls when up 3 to send a team to the line for 2. There is still time left if they make both throws for a steal, or even worse what if the refs call a foul on the rebound of the 2nd miss and send them back to the line again. I could go on and on with examples of how players, and refs can screw things up in end of game situations when they foul. The bottom line is that there is a very good chance the team with the lead is going to win regardless of the strategy. If someone thinks there is a significant difference in winning based on the foul strategy they are overstating the case.