Joe Harris

From Where Do The Championship Contenders Take Their Shots?

Perhaps it has been influenced by the amount of NBA basketball I have watched over the last couple years, but for whatever reason I have become obsessed with where teams take the majority of their shots from. Obviously the best two spots to shoot from are at the rim and from beyond the arc (because they are the easiest shots and the shots worth the most points, respectively), and while I don't expect any NCAA team to turn into the Rio Grande Valley Vipers anytime soon, I'm interested to see how much the NBA emphasizing layups and threes will trickle down to college basketball. 

Because of the obvious difficulties with shooting a lot of mid range jumpers, it would seem that finding teams who take a lot of their shots from that range would be helpful in trying to peg teams who could be upset threats. Also, due to the nature of the NCAA tournament – a series of 40 minute, single elimination games – I also wonder if the adage of live by the three, die by the three, might be a bit more applicable to NCAA basketbal lthan the NBA.

That being said, I grabbed a ton of data fom the great Hoop-math.com, and made a giant chart with the top 10 ranked teams in KenPom, a couple extra contenders, and the D1 averages. A brief note before I post it, though, is that this data (unless I am very much mistaken) mashes halfcourt and transition numbers together, so it would stand to reason that some of these teams who play at a faster pace and force some more turnovers have their at the rim (and possibly 3 point) numbers inflated a bit:

In case the software doesn't let me embed, go to this link to see the full chart in action. Some brief notes/analysis:

  • Charts like these are why I still can't discount Michigan State. They're not healthy, and they haven't even played all that great when they were, but they get to the rim a lot and barely take any two point jumpers.
  • Kansas gets to the rim more than any of the other contenders, which stands to reason when you run Bill Self's offense and have four post players who can score, including a possible #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft
  • Arizona taking 43% of its shots from midrange is partially why I wrote off the Wildcats as a possible national champion, despite their recent play (and KenPom numbers) saying otherwise.
  • I am surprised Wichita State doesn't get to the rim more, given their athletic advantage over a lot of the Missouri Valley. They might be forced to take some more jumpers than they're used to in the NCAA tournament, which could lead to a (somewhat fluky) early exit.
  • Creighton and Duke both personify the live by the three, die by the three mantra, which you can afford to do when you have the type of shooters those teams have

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