Friday, November 28, 2008

LATE-NIGHT UPDATE: The University of Dayton -- though ultimately winning its game against Auburn, 60-59 -- went 0-for-24 on three-pointers. As a result, the following entry from the NCAA basketball record book must now be erased:

22—Canisius vs. St. Bonaventure, Jan. 21, 1995

[Update: I later learned of an 0-for-24 game by South Carolina State in 2004.]

Dayton entered tonight's game hitting from behind the arc at a .395 clip (for purposes of the calculations to come, the same figure can be expressed as a .605 failure rate, i.e., one minus the success rate).

To estimate the probability of a team with the Flyers' previous success rate going 0-for-24 on three-point attempts, we simply raise .605 to the 24th power, yielding .000006 or 6-in-1 million.

This analysis assumes independence of observations, that the outcome of one Dayton shot has no bearing on the next, like coin flips. Though reasons can be generated for why basketball shots should not be independent -- such as confidence, momentum, or fatigue -- sports performances have tended to be consistent with an independence model.

One reason a team might have such a disastrous night is that it fell way behind and jacked up a lot of desperation three attempts. This does not appear to be true of the Dayton situation, however, as the Auburn game appears to have been close throughout; the Flyers led 26-21 at the half and won in overtime.

Another line of inquiry is whether the lion's share of Dayton's trey attempts somehow were taken disproportionately by the team's weakest shooters from long distance, thus rendering the aforementioned .395 baseline inappropriate. Looking once again at the Flyers' pre-Auburn stats, Dayton's top three-point shooters coming in were Marcus Johnson, .500 (7-14); Mickey Perry, .455 (5-11); Chris Johnson, .417 (5-12); and Luke Fabrizius, .412 (7-17). According to the box score of the Dayton-Auburn contest, this quartet took 13 of the team's 24 shots, so at first glance, the Flyers' best long-distance shooters appear to have been reasonably well represented.


Trailing 65-57 to Georgetown with 9:15 remaining in a battle of nationally ranked teams earlier today, Tennessee went on a 23-6 run to take an 80-71 lead right around the two-minute mark. Then, with the Hoyas starting to foul in desperation in the final minute, the Vols went 7-of-8 from the free-throw line to take a 90-78 victory. The second-half play-by-play sheet from can be viewed here.

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