Once viewed as a ticket to NCAA tournament success, the three-point shot may now be a trap. Advancing out to the perimeter, quick, agile defenses are harassing trey shooters into increasingly tougher attempts. Our suggestion for these besieged offenses is elementary: Work to get a shot closer to the basket—what we call a Quality Shot. Such shots are conversions in or around the paint, or dunks and layups in transition. (We'll agree that some two-point attempts are bad shots, just as an open three is often a good one.)
To recognize which teams are most adept at getting such Quality Shots, SI has devised a Quality Shot Rating. We use the following calculation: (percentage of team field goal attempts that are two-pointers + percentage of field goals made that are two-pointers)-(percentage of field goal attempts that are three-pointers-percentage of field goals made that are threes) = Quality Shot Rating.
Put simply: A team is rewarded for taking twos and further rewarded for making them; it is penalized for taking threes, but the penalty is mitigated by making them.
Does the QSR correlate with tournament advancement? It did last year. We calculated the regular-season QSRs for the pretournament Top 25. Each of the Final Four finished no lower than sixth: NCAA runner-up Kansas (1.548, the No. I rating); champion Syracuse (1.490, No. 3); Texas (1.462, No. 5); and Marquette (1.458, No. 6). Further down in the field a couple of Cinderellas scored first-round upsets that might have been predicted by the teams' QSRs: Tulsa (1.358), a No. 13 seed, dispatched No. 4 Dayton (1.230), and No. 11 Central Michigan (1.326) knocked off No. 6 Creighton (1.287). The system wasn't foolproof, as evidenced by the victory of No. 12 Butler (1.146) over No. 5 Mississippi State (1.419).
Below are the QSRs for this season's tournament field.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]