This One Stat Could Be The Difference In Tonight’s National Championship

  • Eric Goldschein

shabazz napier uconn

If you’re looking for an all-encompassing look at tonight’s national title game between Connecticut and Kentucky, including each team’s strengths and weaknesses, you want Matt Rudnitsky’s full preview. Here’s one thing Matt didn’t mention, however, which I think bears noting: UConn is one of the best foul shooting teams in the country. Kentucky isn’t even in the top 200.

The official numbers, which were updated yesterday:

Kentucky: 39 games, 768/1122, 68.4 percent — 221st in the country.

UConn: 39 games, 634/819, 77.4 percent — 5th in the country.

Connecticut’s sample size is noticeably smaller, but in the tournament they’ve gotten even better, shooting 86 percent from the line. Kentucky has improved as well, but their 70.6 percent mark still pales in comparison.

Personally, I think intangibles like “clutch-ness” and “coach-osity” make a difference in big games, when nerves and emotions can run rampant and ruin the statistical patterns developed throughout the season. But free throw shooting is huge in close games, and if the 2.5 point spread here is any indication, that’s exactly what we should expect.

Here’s to hoping UConn doesn’t snap the ball over Shabazz Napier’s head for a safety on the first drive.

[h/t to Sam Mee for pointing out this enormous statistical gap.]

Photo via Getty