The use of the three-point shot has become more common in Division I men’s basketball in recent years. The top 20 teams in the country with the most three-pointers attempted has gradually risen from 18,037 to 19,205 in only three seasons.
The NCAA first recognized the three-point arc in the 1986-87 season and there has been an average of 21.9 attempts from downtown in 2018.
On Jan. 27, the Seton Hall’s men’s basketball team fell, 80-52, to Villanova in a game where the Wildcats took 42 shots from beyond the arc. Villanova converted on 17 of these shots, which accounted for nearly 64 percent of the team’s scoring.
Villanova ranked fifth overall in the NCAA on three-pointers attempted in the 2018 regular season with 975 – good for a 20 percent increase from the year prior.
Three-pointers are predominant in the NBA, too, as the league is averaging 31.38 attempts per game through 1,548 matches compared to the 2.8 attempts when the arc was first used in the 1979-80 season.
The reliance on the shot from downtown can be summarized in a shootout between the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans in December 2016. In this game, the Rockets set NBA records for most three-pointers shot in a half (24), game (61) and most three-pointers made (31).
Even the Big East has seen how the evolution of the three-point shot has impacted its 10 teams, as the number of attempted threes in the conference has risen from 6,191 in the 2016-17 season to 7,852 in 2017-18. Creighton joined Villanova in the top 20 in three-point attempts in the NCAA last season with 889.
The modern approach to basketball strategy has been more about using space, timing and heavily incorporating three-pointers into a team’s overall scoring.
Despite this trend upwards for three-point shooting, Seton Hall has not seen the same linear arc in its shooting.
Over the last 10 seasons, Seton Hall attempted the most three-pointers in 2012-13 with 711. Through 22 games in the 2018-19 season, the team has taken 444 attempts from long range and is projected to shoot 605 by the end of the regular season for a 12 percent decrease from the previous year.
Villanova and Creighton have both surpassed Seton Hall’s season projection with 656 and 608 three-point attempts this season, but they too are down respectively.
Myles Powell leads Seton Hall with 176 attempted shots from beyond the arc, which is two times more than second-best Myles Cale’s 78. Seton Hall has been searching for an additional scorer to support Powell, but finding another shooter to hit from long-range seems out of the picture this year.
While Villanova is heavily relying on the three-point prowess of the Phil Booth, Eric Paschall and Collin Gillespie trio and Creighton looks to Ty-Shon Alexander and Mitch Ballock to hit from downtown, the Pirates might find that establishing a strong inside presence and continuing to increase their shooting from the charity stripe is their way to success for the remainder of the season in pursuit of making the NCAA tournament.
Andrea Keppler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @keppler_andrea.