Live by the 3, Die by the 3
One of the lessons learned from last year is that despite how efficient Wisconsin was in terms of points per possession, a lot of their effectiveness was due to the percentage of points they got from three point FG’s. It was over 30%. I decided to examine this further for Final 4 teams.
If you look at the last 12 years only 4 teams (4 out of 48 Final 4 teams) have had over 30% of their point distribution come from three point FG’s (Louisville, 2005 (35.7%); Illinois, 2005 (34.4%); Indiana, 2002 (31.1%); and the only champion, Duke, 2001 (34.5%)).
Likewise, only 4 teams have made the Final 4 getting less than 18% of their point distribution from three point FG’s (LSU, 2006 (16.7%); UConn, 2009 (17.0%); Kansas, 2003 (17.6%); Michigan State, 2001 (17.1%)).
So if a team doesn’t get between 18% and 30% of their points from 3, be skeptical if they can make it to the Final 4, let alone win a first round game.When you look at Jim Calhoun, Roy Williams, and Tom Izzo, their teams have won titles in years where they received significantly more points from 3 than they traditionally do. Likewise, Coach K has won titles (except his dominant 2001 team) when his teams score fewer points from 3.
Why is this interesting this year? Pitt has amazing offensive efficiency, but their point distribution hasn’t changed much since Jamie Dixon took over (low of 23.2% last year, high of 26.1% in 2007, 25.1% this year). Their productivity isn’t because they live or die by the three, but their offensive rebounding is off the charts, more like a Tom Izzo team. This may be the year that Pitt breaks through.
We will have this algorithm fully developed for each round after we have had a chance to test it thoroughly, but we will comment on it after Selection Sunday.
How does that shape up for some other teams? Ohio State (30.1%), Kentucky (30.3%), and Duke (31.7%) all get more than 30% of their points from three point field goals, so keep that in mind. In fact, when Ohio State beat Penn State recently at home by 3, they were 10 for 20 on three point field goals. That is unlikely to translate to a regional where they will be playing their first game in a Dome. Kentucky has a larger margin of error given their SEC Tournament is in the Georgia Dome. Duke is not as fortunate. They will be in Greensboro.
Based on our algorithms that we have built based on 26 years of tournament history, here is the current short list:
Big 10: Michigan State, Ohio State
Big East: Villanova, Syracuse, Georgetown, West Virginia
SEC: Florida, Kentucky
Big 12: Kansas
Now, 69% of the time, there are two teams from one conference and 73% of the time there is a team from last year's Final 4.