Sunday, March 29, 2009

Oklahoma missed its first 15 three-point attempts, ultimately going 2-of-19 for the day, in a 72-60 loss to North Carolina in the NCAA's South men's basketball regional final.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Villanova's just-concluded win over Pitt in a thrilling East regional men's basketball final contained a couple of impressive streaky performances. Villanova made its first 21 free-throw attempts as a team and finished 22-of-23. For Pitt, forward DeJuan Blair was 9-of-9 from the field (article, box score).

Friday, March 27, 2009

The NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments always feature a number of team and individual stretches of hotness and coldness. Tonight's Oklahoma-Syracuse men's game featured what may have been the most pronounced stretch of dominance thus far.

With the Sooners leading by only a slight 28-24 margin with roughly two minutes to go in the first half, OU went on a 20-2 run (carrying over from the first to the second half) to increase its lead to 48-26. Eventually, it became a 28-5 run (OU's lead expanding to 56-29), before Syracuse even started to make a dent in the lead. A fairly large dent did the Orange manage, but it wasn't nearly enough as Syracuse fell 84-71 (play-by-play sheet).

During part of the time they were blowing the game open, the Sooners made 10 out of 11 field-goal attempts. OU's Tony Crocker, whose shooting played a major part in the Sooners' run, made six of his first eight three-point attempts of the game, as noted in the above-linked article.

Last night, another Big 12 team, Missouri, unleashed a 27-7 run on Memphis, en route to a 102-91 victory.

Seen any other big streaks? Share them in the Comments section!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Not since LeBron James in a 2007 NBA playoff game can I remember a single player taking over his team's scoring load to the degree that Texas Tech's Mike Singletary did in tonight's opening-round win by the Red Raiders over Texas A&M in the Big 12 tournament, 88-83.

In addition to Singletary's offensive prowess, the game was also noteworthy for Texas Tech's big comeback. A&M had led by 21 points early in the second half and by 18 with roughly 15 minutes left in the game. After a few different Red Raiders contributed points to cut the lead to 10 with roughly 10 minutes remaining, Singletary took over.

The graphic below documents what happened. I've copied and pasted part of's play-by-play sheet, editing out Texas A&M's side of the ledger and annotating all of Singletary's shots within the relevant time frame (green and red for field-goal attempts, blue for free-throw attempts; numbers equal point values and an "x" is for a miss). You can click on the chart to enlarge it.

From this chart, one can see several aspects of Singletary's amazing performance:

*He scored 29 straight Texas Tech points, part of his total of 43 points on the night.

*He made 9 out of 10 field-goal attempts, including a perfect 3-of-3 on threes. At a muscular 6-6, 230 pounds, Singletary arguably looks more like a linebacker than an outside-shooting specialist, and indeed he really hasn't jacked up many trey attempts during his time at Texas Tech (career statistics). As best I can tell, Singletary is not related to the legendary former NFL linebacker bearing the same name.

*He made 8 out of 10 free throws (not exactly amazing, but not bad, either).

Sunday, March 08, 2009

As described here and on my College Softball Blog, University of Washington softball pitcher Danielle Lawrie had her streak ended, of 90 consecutive innings without giving up an earned run. A member of Canada's 2008 Olympic team, Lawrie probably won't give up many more runs this season!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

I hope you'll excuse some Maize 'n Blue bias on my part, but the University of Michigan (my graduate school alma mater) picked up a huge men's basketball win at Minnesota, 67-64, which may propel the Wolverines into the NCAA tournament field. Michigan (14-of-15) and Minnesota (18-of-19) each shot superbly from the free-throw line (box score).

The outside shooting of the Wolverines' Laval Lucas-Perry was the real difference-maker, as he hit three straight from behind the arc, beginning with 11:13 remaining in the game and Michigan trailing, 53-43 (play-by-play sheet).

Going back to the free-throw statistics, the Gophers came into the game hitting from the stripe with a .715 percentage (see pregame notes), although they also had a 13-of-14 FT performance earlier this season at Penn State.

According to this binomial calculator, the probability of a team with a prior .715 success rate making 18 (or more) out of 19 free-throw attempts is around .02 (2-in-100).

Michigan came in with a .748 free-throw percentage. With this baserate, the Wolverines' probability of making 14 (or more) out of 15 is around .08. For the joint occurrence of Minnesota's and Michigan's hot free-throw shooting, we would then multiply .02 X .08, which yields .0016, which we'll round to .002 (2-in-1,000). This calculation assumes the two teams' free-throw shooting performances are independent of each other; this might not be true as, with each team seeing how well the other was shooting free-throws, the Gophers and Wolverines could have influenced each other to shoot better from the stripe. Still, the two teams' combined free-throw shooting seems pretty unique!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The New York Times has an article on how the overall success rate on free-throw attempts has remained remarkably consistent over the last 50 years or so, both in collegiate and professional basketball. What, if anything, aggregate, league-wide, statistics have to say about individual performers' tendencies to stay in a "zone" of consistent proficiency (as opposed to the potential volatility of "hot" and "cold" stretches) is something to contemplate.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Miami Heat lived up to its name last night, getting hot enough to go on a late 19-0 run to beat the New York Knicks.