College Basketball Extra | Analyzing Big Ten three-point percentages | Sports
Three-point shooting woes during the 2019-20 season weren’t limited to Champaign.
Illinois had them, of course, with a team-wide efficiency from beyond the arc at 30.9 percent, the lowest since the 2011-12 season. But it just wasn’t an Illini-only thing.
Team three-point percentages weren’t down for all of the other 13 Big Ten teams, but a decrease in efficiency was slightly more prevalent. Eight of the 14 Big Ten teams, Illinois included, experienced a year-to-year drop in three-point percentage from 2018-19.
Purdue led the way in the Big Ten with the steepest drop in terms of percentage change. The Boilermakers shot 37.4 percent from three-point range in 2018-19 — a hat tip to Ryan Cline — and then 33 percent in 2019-20. That 11.8 percent change was the only one worse than Illinois’ 10.4 percent decrease in efficiency from 34.5 percent in 2018-19 to 30.9 percent last season.
“I like to think, because I see it every day, that last year was just kind of a one-off year,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said earlier this week during his hour-long Zoom after the Illini’s first practice of the 2020-21 season. He noted the arrival of two elite shooters in freshmen Adam Miller and Coleman Hawkins plus a likely bounce back season for senior guard Trent Frazier.
“Maybe it was the line moving,” Underwood continued, referencing college basketball adopting the FIBA three-point line at 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches. “There’s no doubt we’ve got to shoot the ball better. It was just kind of a deal where the momentum got going a little bit downhill, and it continued. I don’t think we’ll have those issues. I think it will be a strength of our team. There’s no doubt with the guards that we have and Kofi (Cockburn) and Giorgi (Bezhanishvili) in the paint, those guys are going to draw a lot of attention in the paint. They’re going to get shots, and we’re going to have to make those shots. I fully expect us to because we’re good shooters.”
Not every Big Ten team suffered a lapse in ability to knock down three-pointers last season. Six teams, of course, got better while the other eight struggled a bit more. Some positive changes were minor like at Michigan (33.8 percent in 2018-19 to 33.9 percent in 2019-20), but other teams got significantly better. None better than Ohio State, though.
The Buckeyes shot 37.3 percent from three-point range last season to lead the Big Ten. That was a 16.2 percent year-to-year improvement from the season prior.
Rather drastic individual improvement from both Kaleb Wesson and Andre Wesson led the way. The Ohio native brothers each attempted more three-pointers per game in 2019-20 and both made a higher percentage at 42.5 percent and 42.2 percent, up from 34.7 percent and 33.6 percent, respectively.
Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).