I'm going to be working on a post about how the new 3-point line -- which was moved back 12 inches this year -- might affect WSU, but I just want to point out how much I love Bruce Pearl, if for no other reason than he speaks the truth.
The NCAA said it was a move designed to open up the lane, ease physical play around the basket, and make a shot that had become just too easy a little more difficult. And while a lot of people have speculated as to whether that's actually what will happen, only Pearl has had the guts to call it what it really is.
"The Butlers and the George Masons, those are the great stories of our tournament and college basketball," Pearl said. "I think in some ways by taking that shot away from some, I think it's going to make the rich get richer. I think it will help the bigger teams."
It's an axiom of journalism that in order to track down a story, all you have to do is follow the money. (Don't believe me? Watch "All the President's Men" someday.) In this case, ask yourself a question: Which schools have the bigger players who are most likely to benefit from this move, and therefore most likely to benefit financially from added teams in the tournament and deeper runs in the tournament? Oh yeah ... the power conferences!
If the NCAA was truly interested in making this about a tougher shot to open the lane, it would have expanded the key as well, as Jim Boeheim suggested. It did not, which makes the motivation for this move incredibly transparent.
Don't believe Pearl that this is going to penalize the mid-majors? Check out this chart from Basketball Prospectus, representing more than 340,000 shots over 4,000 games:
Notice how fast the field goal percentage (blue line) drops once you start getting past 20 feet? People say the new line is only one foot farther, but the data doesn't lie about the effect just one foot can have on shooters. This is going to affect teams who rely on 3-point shots.
But, you say, it's really just a myth that mid-majors depend on the 3-pointer more than the big boys. Not true. Check out this chart, which shows you the top 10 NCAA Tournament teams in 2008 who got the greatest percentage of their points from 3's (data from kenpom.com via Luke Winn at SI):
|1. Butler||40.9 (8)||39.1 (336)||20.0 (185)|
|2. Belmont||39.5 (12)||42.4 (323)||18.1 (273)|
|3. Drake||38.4 (19)||41.2 (330)||20.4 (161)|
|4. Portland St.||36.8 (29)||44.7 (305)||18.6 (255)|
|5. American||36.4 (35)||40.9 (332)||22.6 (55)|
|6. Davidson||34.4 (47)||50.7 (179)||15.0 (336)|
|7. Oregon||34.2 (50)||47.3 (273)||18.6 (254)|
|8. Georgetown||34.1 (54)||49.5 (212)||16.4 (319)|
|9. Vanderbilt||33.4 (64)||45.9 (298)||20.7 (146)|
|10. BYU||33.1 (66)||48.1 (251)||18.7 (248)|
So, no, it's not a myth. This really is going to hurt the mid-majors, making it more difficult for them to compete with major conference teams, since they're not going to be able to score as great a percentage of their points from 3-point range. And that's incredibly sad for those of us who love the college basketball game.
I'm generally not a conspiracy theorist, but there's really no other way to spin this thing. It's unfortunate, but hardly surprising.
After all, the NCAA is an organization that created a bowl system designed to keep mid-majors out, until the public outcry forced them to allow one -- and no more than one -- into their party ... but only after making sure that no money was lost to the mid-major teams by adding a fifth BCS game.
Shame on you, NCAA.