There are stats that one can use to decide if the three point shot will come into play in your college basketball betting. Let’s take a look. 


With both elite and awful units, there are four types of games that you can derive analytics from. 


1. an elite offense versus an elite defense (at times)

2. an elite offense versus an awful defense (definitely)

3. an awful offense versus an elite defense (never) 

4. an awful offense versus an awful defense. (never)


Depending on how the year to date statistics measure, one can find the answers of the possibilities but not the results. But you certainly can logically gage them if you put in the work. 


Don’t extrapolate these results too far. If your team plays a six foot three inch center, he’s probably going to get killed by Paul George. However, based on the four factors, matchups do not necessarily guarantee you make better predictions. Offensive and defensive efficiency by adjusted points per possession does an excellent job.


The three point shot is a powerful weapon. It gives the underdog an opportunity to get hot and pull off the upset. It has also propelled a favorite like Villanova or or an underdog like Butler to excel in NCAA tournament championships.


I often wondered whether the offense or defense has control over the three point shot. There’s a correlation from early to late season statistics in conference play more so than the preseason where elite teams play low level competition. The later, the more acceptable. 


The defense has the ability to control what type of shots an opposing offense takes. They get to choose whether to go into a zone. Defenses can limit the fraction of shots an opponent takes from three. Defenses get to decide if the opponent can shoot from downtown or whether to guard the perimeter. 


However, the defense has no control once the offense puts up a three point shot. Randomness plays a big role in determining three point percentage allowed. Even more surprising, randomness also plays a big role in an offense’s three point percentage. While shooting is a clear skill, the data shows regression to the mean in three point percentage.


When was the last time you looked at three point attempts in your pregame analysis? It’s how often one attempts a three point shoot. A team going 3 of 4, (75%) means very little compared to a team that jacks up 22 attempts. Three point attempt percentage is one of the most predictable shooting-related stats around. We’ve already established the defense has influence over this, but a major part of an offense’s style is how often they want to shoot threes, so they have influence, too. More influence than the defense, actually. This certainly shows that even tho the defense has their say, the offense can counter. 


There are games where good shooters get a bunch of open looks and they make more than a third of their attempts. You wouldn’t call that luck. (Although, from the offense’s perspective the shooters enjoyed some good fortune to be left open.) But in the long run, that kind of stuff evens out a lot more than one would have thought. In the end, coaches have to decide how much they want to play the lottery by putting it up from 35 feet.  Sometimes, it will be advantageous for the defense to let the offense to take a bunch of shots and sometimes it won’t. The offense has to consider the same things.


Each philosophy may be correct given the alternatives inside the arc. There are obviously a lot of factors for a coach to consider in making these decisions; many more than just what a team’s 2-point accuracy might be. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting way to think about how defenses (and offenses) work. And what percentage you are backing if three point shots are expected or not. One consideration I would say is mandatory to analyze is the underdog. There’s nothing like a run of three pointers to get an underdog side back into the game and covering your spread. The back door cover is accomplished from outside the arc more than a series of two point shooting. 


Good Luck 

Wayne Root