Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

There was a men's college basketball game televised earlier today, in which Southern Illinois went scoreless in overtime in losing to Arkansas. Going scoreless in OT seems like an interesting type of cold hand.

Going scoreless for a five-minute stretch at any point in a game is probably fairly unusual. Further, if a game goes to overtime, that would seem to suggest the teams are pretty evenly matched (at least on that day or night). Therefore, one team shouldn't be able to shut out the opponent by sheer intimidation, for example by continually pressing and stealing the ball.

Shot clocks range from giving teams 24 seconds per possession to shoot in the NBA to 35 seconds in men's NCAA play (women's college ball uses 30 seconds, whereas the WNBA switched last season to 24 seconds from 30). Thus, unless both teams exhaust their full allotments of time to shoot, it would seem that teams could get about two possessions per minute, or 10 for an entire overtime. That's a lot of shots to miss (although a team could have fewer, due to turnovers), not to mention possible free throws.

One mechanism by which a team could go scoreless in OT -- of which you'll see some apparent evidence below -- is that it could get desperate after falling behind early in the extra period and then start jacking up threes.

I naturally wondered how often overtime shutouts have occurred. To get an estimate, I did some web searching using keywords such as overtime, scoreless, shut out and, to exclude other sports, basketball. It might not be the most scientific way to approach the problem, but it should provide a ballpark (or in this case, arena) figure. Below is a list of games I found from 2000 onward, complete with web links to game articles and box scores.

Men's College

Southern Illinois (vs. Arkansas), November 23, 2006
(SIU was 0-3 from the field in OT, no FT attempts)

George Mason (vs. James Madison), February 7, 2004
("The Patriots missed all six of their field goal tries, four from behind the arc, and went 0-for-2 at the free throw line in overtime.")

Women's College

Indiana (vs. Michigan State), February 29, 2004
(IU was 0-6 in OT field goal attempts, all from three-point land, no FT attempts)

Men's Pro

Boston (vs. Indiana), April 29, 2003
(first OT shutout in NBA play-off history; Celtics missed six shots from field and two FT attempts)

Vancouver (vs. Indiana), December 2, 2000

Women's Pro

None found.

No comments: