When Duke faces Arizona in the final of the Preseason NIT Tip-Off Shootout Classic - OK, it's just a tip-off -- the Blue Devils will come armed as one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation.
This is nothing new. Accurate and prolific 3-point shooting has been a Duke staple for more than two decades. The trait probably received more than customary attention last season when the Devils relied heavily on the marksmanship of Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, Quinn Cook, and Rasheed Sulaimon.
Through its NIT semifinal win over Alabama on Nov. 27, Mike Krzyzewski's current club was making 44.7 percent of its threes.
Oddly enough, Virginia Tech was doing better. Coach James Johnson's squad currently ranks sixth among the 335 teams in Division I at 45.5 percent. If sustained, that would be the best 3-point shooting in ACC history. Don't count on it -- the Hokies made 31.4 percent of their threes last season.
Two other sort-of-ACC teams also are converting more than 40 percent of their 3-pointers so far: Notre Dame at 41.2 and Pitt at 40.7.
A 40 percent conversion rate is quite uncommon: A single ACC squad has topped that mark since 1996. The recent exception, North Carolina's 2005 national champions, was only good enough to rank 10th among the league's all-time best over the course of an entire season.
Six of the 17 ACC squads that enjoyed bonusphere accuracy of 40 percent or better prior to this season competed in 1986-87, the first year the 3-pointer was permanently in effect. One might conclude the shot was employed more judiciously back then, not to mention attempted from a closer distance.
Last year's Blue Devils came tantalizingly close to the 40 percent level, hitting at a .3994 clip. Had the Devils made one more of their 676 tries from beyond the arc, they would have been at 40.1 percent.