NCAA Basketball: The Three-Point Advantage

The Three-Point Arc Has Made NCAA Basketball Volatile

The three-point arc has been a part of NCAA Basketball for over 20 years. It was introduced in 1986 and modified in 2008 when it was moved from being 19-feet 9-inches away to 20-feet 9-inches away from the basket. That move meant that the three-point shot instantly became more difficult to hit. By pushing the downtown shot a full foot away, the NCAA took the three-pointer away from the average shooter and put it in the hands of the specialist.

Three Point Percentages

Whether or not a team invests in the three-point shot depends on a few variables. The first is the style of play used by the coaching staff. Some clubs love to throw threes, while others focus more attention on the two-point game. If part of a team’s strategy includes a consistent use of the three point shot, then chances are they will be actively recruiting guys who can shoot from downtown.

How often the three is used varies from as little as 10% to over 30%. The average is around 25%. The average number of shots taken from the floor of a NCAA Basketball game, including threes, is around 80. Let’s take a look at how threes work in influencing point production

How Often a Team Throws the Bomb

If a team throws 30% of their shots as threes and they take 80 shots total, 24 of those would be from downtown. If the opposing team throws 20% of their balls from three-point land, they would be taking about 16 shots from the arc. The first team, if they hit all of their threes, could generate up to 72 points, while the second team has the potential to create 48 points. Of course, no team hits 100% of any of their shots.

You might think that the club that throws more threes has a better chance of winning but since these shots have a lower percentage of completion that’s not true. If the team that takes 24 shots hits about 35%, they would make 8 shots, creating 24 points. However, if the team taking 16 shots makes 45% of their tries, they would complete 7 of their shots for 21 points. The first team would generate 3 more points than the other. That puts them ahead.

The first team has 56 shots left and the second 64. That means that the first team has the potential to generate 112 points with two-point shots while the second may create up to 128. If team one is successful on 37% and the second club is successful on 45%, the team one would create 41 points while team two would generate around 58 points. The end result is team two wins the game.

Thus, there may or may not be an advantage to tossing up a lot of threes. By the way, our example above does not include free throws, which can definitely influence the outcome of a game.

Teams with a Sharpshooter

If a team has a sharpshooter who can knock down 45% to 49% of his three-point shots that can certainly be a factor. Sharpshooters are overall specialists who are amazingly accurate and consistent from downtown. They may be starters or may come off the bench.

These players are usually go-to guys who can sink a three at crunch time to put their team ahead or even clinch the victory. If a team has a sharpshooter and you expect the game to be close, you should give that player’s potential input careful consideration.

NCAA Three-Point Effect

In determining the potential effect of the three-point shot, sports bettors need to consider how it works into a team’s game plan, the potential for success or failure in converting threes, and how many shots a given team will take from the field, including threes and twos. Also, bettors must figure in each team’s potential to go to and send their opponents to the foul line and how good a club is at converting those shots. All of these stats are available and useful in making your bets.