After Further Review, Wisconsin Not Fouling Up Three Wasn't As Dumb As You Might Think
Hunter Dickenson hit an electric Steph Curry range three with 2.1 seconds left to send Michigan to overtime where they would end up beating Wisconsin. The question everyone kept arguing about after the game was whether or not Wisconsin should have fouled before the block that led to the inbound or on the inbound itself which would have put Michigan on the line to shoot two when down three.
I ran some numbers to see how dumb the decision to not foul was and while the data suggests the right decision is to foul, it's not as obviously wrong as it might appear. I was surprised to find 11 NCAA Men's D1 teams that fouled in the final ten seconds while up three out of 166 total ended up losing the game. Not gonna lie, I was surprised it was actually this many.
That's still gives teams that foul a 93.3% chance of winning based on this year's data. Naturally, when that doesn't work out, everyone says how dumb you are for not taking the route that almost assured a win. But what about the win percentage for teams that don't foul? I found 309 instances in which a team losing by three shot a three pointer with less than :10 and 44 of them tied the game to presumably send it to overtime. The idea here is the winning team decided not to foul on these possessions by allowing the shot. This leaves the team up three that decided not to foul winning in regulation 85 percent of the time with the other 15 percent of games going into overtime. Fair to assume from here that teams knotted up after 40:00 have a 50 percent chance of winning in overtime. Throw that into the calculator and you get a grand win percentage for not fouling of 92.9 percent.
All in all, we're talking about a half percent here. While it still seems that fouling is the right analytics move, this is more like kicking a field goal instead of going for it on fourth and 2 territory vs a full scale blunder.
Anyway, enough math - let's have some fun and review a few of the catastrophes of teams fouling up three that still lost from the above list.
Tennessee fouling Missouri
Rutgers fouling Ohio State
Florida State fouling Clemson
UC San Diego fouling Long Beach State