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!

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