Go Figure: Pace of Points

By Lauren Brownlow | 0 Comment(s) | Posted

North Carolina put on another scoring exhibition in a 66-0 beatdown of Idaho this weekend, which got me thinking about basketball. The ACC has become a league mired down in some ugly offensive displays, and I wondered aloud how many times the football team’s point total on Saturday would have beaten an ACC basketball team’s point total last season.

Luckily for me - and of course, for all of you - I get to find out! ACC basketball teams combined to play 398 games last season. They outscored Carolina’s football team 229 times, but failed to hit that crazy point total of 66 in 169 games.

A dirty little secret: the odds are in the favor of most teams if they, you know, score more than 66 points. ACC teams went 180-49 when hitting the 66-point mark compared to a 52-117 record when failing to score 66 points.

The weirdest stat? The four teams with the lowest winning percentage in games scoring fewer than 66 points were the bottom four teams in the league: Boston College (0.160), Georgia Tech (0.200), Wake Forest (0.176) and Virginia Tech (0.176).

The top five teams in the league - North Carolina, Duke, Florida State, Virginia and NC State - were also the top five teams in winning percentage in games scoring fewer than 66 points (the only difference was Virginia was 8-10 in those games, or 0.444, and the Cavaliers finished a spot ahead of NC State, which was 4-4.)

North Carolina was the only team with a winning record in games where it scored fewer than 66 points; only two teams were .500 (Duke at 2-2 and NC State at 4-4).

There are obviously exceptions: Virginia, for instance, played 18 games scoring fewer than 66 points (only three ACC teams had more such games) and the Cavaliers finished fourth in the league. NC State played the third-fewest games at less than 66 points and finished fifth. But BC led the league with 25 games and finished last, Georgia Tech was 11th and had the second-most at 20). North Carolina and Duke had the fewest such games (Carolina had three, Duke four) and they finished 1-2. 

Speaking of Boston College, the Eagles failed to hit that seemingly elusive 66-point mark in all but six games. Twice when they hit 66 points, it took overtime. So BC hit 66 points in regulation...FOUR TIMES all season. FOUR. (But hey, the Eagles were 5-1 in those games! Unfortunately, they were 4-21 in all other games.)

Virginia might be able to grind out wins, but the Cavaliers were actually 8-10 in the lower-scoring affairs and 14-0 in games when they hit the 66-point threshold. Other low-scoring offenders include Clemson (19 such games with an 8-11 record in them) and Georgia Tech, which failed to score 66 in 20 games (4-16 record).

Listen, I’m not trying to rock the boat here. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. But look at Florida State: the Seminoles had one of their best seasons and hit the 66-point mark 22 times, going 19-3 in those games (6-7 in all other games). They were still one of the better defensive teams in the country. Virginia Tech struggled all year long offensively, and the Hokies lost a lot of close games. They were 13-3 in games scoring 66 or more and 3-14 in games when they couldn’t score 66.

I’m not a scientist, or even a statistician. I know some teams feel more comfortable playing at a slower pace and controlling how many times they shoot the ball in the general vicinity of the rim per possession, waiting until the seconds ooze off the shot clock as they dribble aimlessly at the top of the key. I’m not a basketball coach. Maybe that’s a great strategy. But what some of these numbers might suggest is maybe...it isn’t?

All we’re asking, as ACC basketball fans that want our eyeballs to stop melting while we watch teams running something that is technically referred to as an “offense” but looks more like a good old-fashioned delay game from the 1950’s, is that you outscore the UNC football team’s total against Idaho more often than 58% of the time. Thanks!

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