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  1. #1

    Are We Relying Too Heavily On "The Lottery"?

    Some interesting blog entries on Kenpom over the past few days basically make the argument that 3 point shooting is essentially the lottery.

    http://kenpom.com/blog/

    Some games you are hot (win the lottery) some games you are not (live by the bomb die by the bomb). Over the course of the season it all averages out.

    IMHO this in part explains Andre Dawkins. The kid can shoot but his game is largely catch and shoot from behind the arc. Games like tonight he won the Powerball but then others he will go 0 for and over the course of the season he will end up around 40%.

    An interesting argument can be made that a 2010 style defense (sag/contain) so that you can stop easy buckets better is a smarter overall strategy and just pray you don't "lose the lottery" in a one and done format come tourny time.

    It seems that against some of our better competition we have relied heavily on our outside shooting and in essence played "the lottery". Sometimes we win (UNC) sometimes we lose (Miami/Ohio St.). Does anyone else feel like our chances in March will largely be determined by whether we get "hot" and "win the lottery"?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by CLW View Post
    Some interesting blog entries on Kenpom over the past few days basically make the argument that 3 point shooting is essentially the lottery.

    http://kenpom.com/blog/

    Some games you are hot (win the lottery) some games you are not (live by the bomb die by the bomb). Over the course of the season it all averages out.

    IMHO this in part explains Andre Dawkins. The kid can shoot but his game is largely catch and shoot from behind the arc. Games like tonight he won the Powerball but then others he will go 0 for and over the course of the season he will end up around 40%.

    An interesting argument can be made that a 2010 style defense (sag/contain) so that you can stop easy buckets better is a smarter overall strategy and just pray you don't "lose the lottery" in a one and done format come tourny time.

    It seems that against some of our better competition we have relied heavily on our outside shooting and in essence played "the lottery". Sometimes we win (UNC) sometimes we lose (Miami/Ohio St.). Does anyone else feel like our chances in March will largely be determined by whether we get "hot" and "win the lottery"
    This seems fairly silly because it ignores two things.

    1) Twos are also the lottery. There's this idea that threes are somehow a wildly bigger gamble than shooting twos, which most college teams don't exceed much more than 50% on. It's not like you have a 90% chance of making a two versus high 30s% on a good three-point shooting team.

    2) It ignores that the bonus point means that you only need to hit 33.3% on threes to equal the equivalent 50% shooting percentage on twos. So shooting 38 or 39% from three is actually better than shooting 50% from two. Less "lotteryish," as it were.

    I agree that our fortunes in March will depend on whether we make shots or not.

    Just because people mimic the "live by the three, die by the three" meme as if it were a litany, it doesn't mean that open threes are some risky roll of the dice.

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  3. #3
    i was on board with ken's analysis until he started the lottery commentary. i thought he was going to say that in order to identify effective 3 point defense (and offense) you should look at 3 point attempts instead of 3 point conversions. teams apparently have similar thresholds for what constitutes an attractive 3 point shot and their abilities to make an attractive 3 point shot are also similar, but what sets a good defense apart (and a good offense) is the ability to deny (and create) those attractive shots.

    under this interpretation, duke isn't playing the lottery; rather it is very good at creating attractive 3 point shots.

    given how sharp ken is and how good he is at conveying his message, i am concerned i'm missing something, however.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by CLW View Post
    Some interesting blog entries on Kenpom over the past few days basically make the argument that 3 point shooting is essentially the lottery.

    http://kenpom.com/blog/

    Some games you are hot (win the lottery) some games you are not (live by the bomb die by the bomb). Over the course of the season it all averages out.

    IMHO this in part explains Andre Dawkins. The kid can shoot but his game is largely catch and shoot from behind the arc. Games like tonight he won the Powerball but then others he will go 0 for and over the course of the season he will end up around 40%.

    An interesting argument can be made that a 2010 style defense (sag/contain) so that you can stop easy buckets better is a smarter overall strategy and just pray you don't "lose the lottery" in a one and done format come tourny time.

    It seems that against some of our better competition we have relied heavily on our outside shooting and in essence played "the lottery". Sometimes we win (UNC) sometimes we lose (Miami/Ohio St.). Does anyone else feel like our chances in March will largely be determined by whether we get "hot" and "win the lottery"?
    I think you're misusing the data here. The data says there is no necessary consistency between 3 point shots from game to game on a macro level. In other words, if you shot 50% of your shots from 3, your shooting percentage per game would vary a good bit.

    But you don't do that! In fact, you approach whether you take lots of 3s from a Micro Level - based on in-game situations. There will be some games where the team has serious inside issues - Today, @UNC, etc. In those games, the 3 point shots are more likely to be more effective shots EVEN if the chances that they'll be successful is somewhat variable. The key is to know when those games and situations are where a 3 is more worthwhile than a 2.

    And that's what Duke has done! Duke isn't a super high 3 point shooting team - 70th in the country (so top 20% but not higher) at 3 point attempts. Duke averages roughly 21 3s per game, but in some games (the aforementioned ones) we go for 30. Of course the reason we go for 3s is because for this team, with our weakness inside at times, is not great inside.
    <devildeac> anyone playing drinking games by now?
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  5. #5
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    I agree with throatybeard's first point. Relying on inside play isn't guaranteed either. Maybe your big guy gets into foul trouble, maybe the opponent defends him really well or prevents him from getting the ball, maybe he gets fatigued, or maybe he just doesn't have it in one particular game. I don't know why there's this perception that if you have an inside game then you can just go to it every time and it will never fail, but if you rely on outside shots then that's risky. If anything, the inside guys are dependent on the guards getting them the ball, whereas the three point shooters are more likely to control the ball to begin with.

    Duke has a system that allows it to generate good looks from three, and they have great shooters, so they capitalize on this.

    Also - shooting 50% from two is not exactly the same as shooting 33% from three. Let's say you have six possessions. In scenario A you take six two-point shots and hit three of them. In scenario B you take six three-point shots and hit two of them. In both cases you've scored six points, but in scenario B you have an extra opportunity for an offensive rebound (four misses instead of three).

  6. #6
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    I totally agree that shooting a high percentage of shots from 3 leaves you more vulnerable to high variance in your offensive output than a team that shoots two's. I disagree with the statement that shooting 33% from 3 is the same as shooting 50% from 2. There are so many other factors that go beyond shooting percentage to change this. While it's true that you'd get an extra rebounding opportunity from 3, it's generally harder to rebound them. You do get some long ones from 3, but you never get the gimme rebound where someone misses a layup and can just put his own shot back. More importantly, you're free throw rate will be much much better shooting twos. It's tough to get fouled shooting 3's, and it's shown in Dukes games. Against a lot of big teams this year, Duke has had trouble drawing fouls during the normal course of play. You have to be aggressive to get a lot of fouls and 3's are as passive a move as there is.

    Someone mentioned that Duke is only 70th in the country in 3PA/FGA, at 37.5% of our shots from 3. That number jumps all the way up to 40.5% if you only look at conference play, which suggests that the season number is artifically low from some easy games in the non-conference. The other thing that I can only talk about from what I've seen and can remember is that Duke's percentage of shots from 3 goes way way up against bigger teams. Duke's big men do a really great job when they have a definite size advantage, but against teams that can match their size, they really struggle and the team rely's on jump shooting much more.

    All of this being said, does Duke really have a choice in the matter? They only have one guy who can consistently get into the lane, and teams can collapse the lane on him more than others, because he won't pass it back out against double and triple coverage as often as others would. Even including Rivers, Duke has small guards so when they do drive into the lane, they often can't get all the way to the rim without getting blocked so they have to pull up and take a lot of low percentage floaters. That was a shot that Nolan really had down, but no one on this team makes it enough to force defenders to respect it compared to a layup. You have some big guys who can score from the block, but their primary move is a passive hook shot. It's much lower percentage than a power move, you won't get fouled as often (which isn't all bad considering their FT%), and it's almost impossible to grab you're own miss with it. Duke's free throw rate is pretty high, but a lot of that has to do with Duke leading by 2-3 possessions at the end of so many games which causes teams to start fouling intentionally before the shot clock is even turned off. This is another stat that is artificially high on the year from easy non-conference games. Duke's full year FT rate is 45.5%, but only 37.9% in conference play.

    For Duke, it's all about matchups. If they draw some teams without 6-10 to 7-0 guys in the middle, they can try and play a more traditional game. If they draw big teams, they will have to shoot 3's. I just don't see Duke beating good teams with size without taking and making a good percentage of 3 pointers.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SCMatt33 View Post
    I totally agree that shooting a high percentage of shots from 3 leaves you more vulnerable to high variance in your offensive output than a team that shoots two's.
    This is what the article is saying, essentially. Yes, one can argue about the merits of such a system, but it does not dispute the fact that three point shooting percentage will have a higher standard deviation game to game than will two point shooting.

    Does this mean we should change our strategy? Probably not. Does it leave us more susceptible to a game with abnormally high or low output? perhaps.

    I think the quality of the threes is key, as some have said. Watching today, we had so many wide open shots off of kick outs...very similar to 2 years ago....and you're going to knock those down more consistently than hand in your face..on the run...fadeaway...whatever...3 point shots. It seems last year there were FAR more of the latter than the former....anyway...just my opinion

    But i think the higher the quality of looks on your threes, the lower the variance probably is....shrug
    9f

  8. #8
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    I think 3-point shooting is a real strength for Duke and that we shouldn't back off. We're not nearly as effective going inside. And we certainly don't seem to have those "gimmee putbacks" from missed inside shots very often! If only we did . . .

    I've just come to think of K as a guard- and perimeter-oriented coach. That's how he recruits and that's how we play, on both O and D. Shooting 3s and driving are basic parts of it. There are certainly other effective ways to coach and play, but they aren't what we seem to do well.
    Quel est si drole de la paix, de l'amour, et de la comprehension?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mapei View Post
    I think 3-point shooting is a real strength for Duke and that we shouldn't back off. We're not nearly as effective going inside. And we certainly don't seem to have those "gimmee putbacks" from missed inside shots very often! If only we did . . .

    I've just come to think of K as a guard- and perimeter-oriented coach. That's how he recruits and that's how we play, on both O and D. Shooting 3s and driving are basic parts of it. There are certainly other effective ways to coach and play, but they aren't what we seem to do well.
    I totally agree. Here are the reason why I think this team should shoot lots of threes
    1) We get good three point looks. When we put 4 shooters (curry,dawkins, rivers, kelly) on the floor and drive and kick there is always someone wide open.
    2) We have some GREAT three point shooter that thrive under pressure. Dawkins and Curry seem to step up in big games.
    3) Miles is a great offensive rebounder that improves the efficiency of our offense.
    4) Shooting threes helps open us the floor for Rivers who is our best offensive weapon.
    5) All our best wins have come when we've shot a ton of threes.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by throatybeard View Post
    This seems fairly silly because it ignores two things.

    1) Twos are also the lottery. There's this idea that threes are somehow a wildly bigger gamble than shooting twos, which most college teams don't exceed much more than 50% on. It's not like you have a 90% chance of making a two versus high 30s% on a good three-point shooting team.

    2) It ignores that the bonus point means that you only need to hit 33.3% on threes to equal the equivalent 50% shooting percentage on twos. So shooting 38 or 39% from three is actually better than shooting 50% from two. Less "lotteryish," as it were.

    I agree that our fortunes in March will depend on whether we make shots or not.

    Just because people mimic the "live by the three, die by the three" meme as if it were a litany, it doesn't mean that open threes are some risky roll of the dice.
    C'mon... 50%? A great 3 point shooter will shoot 40%, but a great big man can shoot 70%. The 70% does not include all of the times that he gets fouled and goes to the line. If your big guy can make foul shots and get his own rebound from time to time, his ability to generate 2 points when he gets the ball in the post and makes a move could be at like 80%!!! You don't (tonight was an anomaly) really get fouled on a 3-pt shot too often.

    I didn't read the article, but we all know that if you are a 3 point shooting team and you go cold, you're dead in the water. Big guys that score with dunks and 2-4 foot shots don't really "go cold" like shooters do. That's the "risk". But a team that relies on a couple of bigs can't get back into a game as quickly as a good 3 point shooting team can. That's the advantage.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by UrinalCake View Post
    I don't know why there's this perception that if you have an inside game then you can just go to it every time and it will never fail, but if you rely on outside shots then that's risky. If anything, the inside guys are dependent on the guards getting them the ball, whereas the three point shooters are more likely to control the ball to begin with.
    Exactly. People can run their mouths about "post presence" as much as they want to, but the guards have to feed those dudes, and the big guys miss a good percentage of the time, and further, there's risk involved in the pass that feeds the big guy. And the greatest college big guys in history were generally in the high 50s %age wise...which is only as good as 40% from three when you factor in the bonus point.

    The three changed the heck outta the game in 1987. Live with it.

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edouble View Post
    A great big man can shoot 70%. The 70% does not include all of the times that he gets fouled and goes to the line. If your big guy can make foul shots and get his own rebound from time to time, his ability to generate 2 points when he gets the ball in the post and makes a move could be at like 80%!!! You don't (tonight was an anomaly) really get fouled on a 3-pt shot too often.
    This is absurd. Here are some career 2pt FG percentages in college, from AMAZING big men, not your standard big guy you're likely to have in a good recruiting year at a top-50 DI school. These guys are way better than even a fairly good Plumlee.

    Boozer--and this is ridic--63%
    Elton Brand 61.2%
    Shaq 61.0%
    Hansbrough 53.5%

    The guys at the top are insane outliers compared to the average NCAAT big man. And they could still be equaled by a guy shooting a tad over 40% from distance. (Given the bonus point). And they're among the best ever from 2 in the 3pt era. You could look up some other guys, but you're not going to find anyone with a career college FG% of 80 or anywhere close to it. Also, recall that when you get fouled, the miss doesn't count (so it's doesn't bring down the FG%), and big guys generally don't have as high FT% as guards.

    In 1997 on SportsCenter, Rich Eisen called Duke "the mustang ranch of trey whores." Well guess what. Guys like Krzyzewski and Pitino know the score, they know what they're doing, and they've internalized what's going on with probability. When you have a number of guys on your team, guards/forwards, who can hit in the very high 30s from three, that's better than having run-of-the-mill big guys tossing from 8 feet. Dunks don't happen all that often as a percentage of possessions. Most big guys you can actually recruit aren't Carlos Boozer. And if you have a guard who can hit about 40% from three, that's statistically better than the overwhelming majority of all the big guys ever from two, given the bonus point.

    The three is not an insane lottery compared to the two. This idea is based on misconceptions.
    Last edited by throatybeard; 02-24-2012 at 02:36 AM.

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by throatybeard View Post
    This is absurd. Here are some career 2pt FG percentages in college, from AMAZING big men, not your standard big guy you're likely to have in a good recruiting year at a top-50 DI school. These guys are way better than even a fairly good Plumlee.

    Boozer--and this is ridic--63%
    Elton Brand 61.2%
    Shaq 61.0%
    Hansbrough 53.5%

    The guys at the top are insane outliers compared to the average NCAAT big man. And they could still be equaled by a guy shooting a tad over 40% from distance. (Given the bonus point). And they're among the best ever from 2 in the 3pt era. You could look up some other guys, but you're not going to find anyone with a career college FG% of 80 or anywhere close to it. Also, recall that when you get fouled, the miss doesn't count (so it's doesn't bring down the FG%), and big guys generally don't have as high FT% as guards.

    In 1997 on SportsCenter, Rich Eisen called Duke "the mustang ranch of trey whores." Well guess what. Guys like Krzyzewski and Pitino know the score, they know what they're doing, and they've internalized what's going on with probability. When you have a number of guys on your team, guards/forwards, who can hit in the very high 30s from three, that's better than having run-of-the-mill big guys tossing from 8 feet. Dunks don't happen all that often as a percentage of possessions. Most big guys you can actually recruit aren't Carlos Boozer. And if you have a guard who can hit about 40% from three, that's statistically better than the overwhelming majority of all the big guys ever from two, given the bonus point.

    The three is not an insane lottery compared to the two. This idea is based on misconceptions.
    "Amazing" sure, whatever you want to call it, that's what I said... "great" big men, not standard. If Boozer shot 63% for a career, he had plenty of games where he shot 70% from the field! Haywood had games where he went 70%.

    I don't know why you repeated my original point, but I'll say it a 3rd time... if you get fouled on a shot, that doesn't go towards your FG percentage. Bigs get fouled a lot more than 3 point shooters do... probably like 10 times more often. It doesn't matter if their FT % is lower than guards. A guard shooting 3s isn't going to the line in the first place! Look at Hans %age that you listed. No way he's the ACC leading scorer with just that shooting %age--he LIVED at the line, which isn't accounted for in that figure.

    So a big guy has an ability to generate points in a way that is less risky than bombing 3s. If you get cold from 3 you are in trouble. It's a lot harder to "get cold" shooting dunks and 2-4 ft shots.

    Dunks don't happen all that often? You're really losing me there. The Plums dunk every game, and they are not even elite, as you mentioned.

    I've heard the math just like everyone else who watches basketball. But the raw shooting %ages of 3-pt vs. 2-pt shots does not take into account factors like GETTING FOULED and GETTING YOUR OWN REBOUND. A big guy's overall offensive productivity is based on these factors, whereas a 3 pt shooters offensive productivity is just based on his shooting %age.

  14. #14
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    shooting 3's seems to irritate the Tar Heels, so i'm onboard...
    "Either we're going down, or they are....... Kirk out!"

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by throatybeard View Post
    This is absurd. Here are some career 2pt FG percentages in college, from AMAZING big men, not your standard big guy you're likely to have in a good recruiting year at a top-50 DI school. These guys are way better than even a fairly good Plumlee.
    Throatybeard makes a valid point. I'll use the two big guys I consider the Gold Standard as the example.

    Bill Walton: 65.1%
    Lew Alcindor: 63.9%

    Walton scored 1767 points in his career at UCLA with 273 coming on Free Throws (15.4%), while Alcindor scored 2325 points with 439 (18.8%) coming via the Free Throw. This season, Dawkins, a 42.2% 3PT shooter has scored 277 points including 34 on Free Throws (12.2%).

    So the percentage of points scored via free throws doesn't appear that large to me so it appears Duke is better off attempting 3 PT FGs and securing the bonus point from the field, especially considering Miles and Mason are not Lew and Bill.

    (And yes, I realize I'm comparing career numbers to numbers from a partial season but that's okay because we ain't doing rocket science here we are discussing basketball.)
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  16. #16

    Agree with both

    Both arguments found here, have a lot of merit. I'm really looking forward to the day when we have both
    again.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by SCMatt33 View Post
    Someone mentioned that Duke is only 70th in the country in 3PA/FGA, at 37.5% of our shots from 3. That number jumps all the way up to 40.5% if you only look at conference play, which suggests that the season number is artifically low from some easy games in the non-conference. [...] Duke's free throw rate is pretty high, but a lot of that has to do with Duke leading by 2-3 possessions at the end of so many games which causes teams to start fouling intentionally before the shot clock is even turned off. This is another stat that is artificially high on the year from easy non-conference games. Duke's full year FT rate is 45.5%, but only 37.9% in conference play.
    Every team plays non-conference games. We can't just adjust numbers for Duke and compare them to unadjusted numbers for other teams. In order to say that these numbers are artificially high or low because of easy non-conference games, we'd have to know that Duke plays an unusually easy non-conference schedule. And, in fact, Duke plays an unusually difficult non-conference schedule -- the 13th-toughest non-conference schedule in the country according to KenPom's ratings. The difficulty of Duke's non-conference schedule is particularly unusual among top teams -- only 3 top 25 teams are among the 50 toughest non-con schedules, and 7 among the 100 toughest. So I see little reason to think Duke's national rankings in any particular category are inflated by easy non-conference games.

  18. #18
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    I think we take what the other team gives us. If they pack it in the paint and play under the screens, we shoot more threes. If they play man and we can spread them out, we go in to Mason more.

    It seems that this argument comes up every year. It's how we play, and the record suggests it worke pretty well. It's not like Mason only takes four shots a game. He has taken more shots than Dre (by a few). And Ryan's got range like Ferry, Laettner, etc. -- if they keep letting him pop out (or don't guard him well on the high pick) he should take the three.
    "Enjoy every sandwich" -- Warren Zevon

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edouble View Post
    C'mon... 50%? A great 3 point shooter will shoot 40%, but a great big man can shoot 70%. The 70% does not include all of the times that he gets fouled and goes to the line. If your big guy can make foul shots and get his own rebound from time to time, his ability to generate 2 points when he gets the ball in the post and makes a move could be at like 80%!!! You don't (tonight was an anomaly) really get fouled on a 3-pt shot too often.

    I didn't read the article, but we all know that if you are a 3 point shooting team and you go cold, you're dead in the water. Big guys that score with dunks and 2-4 foot shots don't really "go cold" like shooters do. That's the "risk". But a team that relies on a couple of bigs can't get back into a game as quickly as a good 3 point shooting team can. That's the advantage.
    I think you're trying to prove your point with some highly faulty arithmetic. Don't know how you define "great", but in any world where the big men shoot 70%, the three-point shooter oughta at least be shooting 55%!!
    Man, if your Mom made you wear that color when you were a baby, and you're still wearing it, it's time to grow up!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by FellowTraveler View Post
    Every team plays non-conference games. We can't just adjust numbers for Duke and compare them to unadjusted numbers for other teams. In order to say that these numbers are artificially high or low because of easy non-conference games, we'd have to know that Duke plays an unusually easy non-conference schedule. And, in fact, Duke plays an unusually difficult non-conference schedule -- the 13th-toughest non-conference schedule in the country according to KenPom's ratings. The difficulty of Duke's non-conference schedule is particularly unusual among top teams -- only 3 top 25 teams are among the 50 toughest non-con schedules, and 7 among the 100 toughest. So I see little reason to think Duke's national rankings in any particular category are inflated by easy non-conference games.
    It actually doesn't have much to do with the quality of the non conference schedule, but the size of those teams. Many of those quality mid majors and even some of the high majors (Michigan) don't have much size, and the bigs they do have aren't intimidating defensive presences to keep duke out of the lane. The difference between Duke' s conference and non conference 3PA/FGA is 3.4% (38.0 to 41.4) after the FSU game. I looked at the 7 or so teams from high major conferences who both had at least a shot at he tourney and were at or above Duke's level of taking threes. I found none with a differential between non conference and conference play of more than 1.9%, meaning that Duke's differential is a striking 79% higher than it's closest peer. He big difference between Duke and those teams is that most of them have either little size, little depth or both on the interior. Duke adjusts its style of play big time depending on the size of its opponent. The high variance of 3's is a scary proposition come tourney time and the best way for Duke to avoid it would be to draw smaller teams like Mizzou or Marquette in regional games. If Duke ever plays a team like Kentucky of Syracuse, you can bet that close to if not more than half of Duke's shots will come from 3.

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