Your 2023 NCAA March Madness "Make Your Free Throws" Report
Make. Your. Free Throws.
We are right on the cusp of the madness. You can see the front moving in. The temp has started to drop and the winds are whistling softly, yet ominously. There's no question the storm is about to hit. The only question is if your favorite team is ready for it.
We all know the key to winning in college basketball is to make your free throws. At least that's what we've been told, so were just going to roll with that. I think it's only appropriate and responsible to take a deep dive into how each team at the dance has fared from the most important line a college basketball athlete can put his nose over. The free throw line.
Here is each team's results in order of overall free throw percentage. I also ran figures for percentage in "clutch" time which I'll define simply as the final five minutes of any game.
I haven't always been impressed with Oral, but I have to admit it's been consistently good this season ranking second in both overall and "clutch" free throw percentage. But watch out for Texas A&M who ranks 10th, but has gotten to the line an absurd 840 times. In order to make your free throws you gotta get there first.
The only saving grace for Mississippi State being dead last is that if they win their play-in game vs Pitt they'll at least face Iowa State who also sucks at the line (ranked 63/68). Pray for those rims. But don't count your Bulldogs before they bark because Mississippi State still needs to win tonight vs Pitt (free throw rank #4). Not gonna lie, I like Pitt here. And I like them a lot more after seeing how impressive Mississippi State has been in missing consecutive free throws this year.
I mean, what is going on here guys?
People forget about free throw defense which needs to be brought up too. You probably didn't even know free throw shooting defense was a thing, but I'm making it a grade for the student section. Their effort in distracting opponents at home games is a critical part of college basketball. Since home court advantage is (mostly) thrown out the window for the tournament, this might affect teams with superior free throw defending students. So it might be wise to fade teams like Kennesaw State who's students have at least made sure their opponents were just as shitty at the line as their team was.
Good to to see the TCU hypno-toads represented their mascot at rank #4. But teams with struggling student free throw defenders might be advantaged by not having to worry about it in the tournament. As the graph and basic logic might suggest, yelling and screaming just isn't possible for Oral. So if anything, this shortcuming should help extend things and give the Golden Eagles a chance to change things up and go all the way in the tournament.