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Barry Jacobs On Shooting & Winning

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An estimable ACC observer made an interesting two-part observation the other day. Actually, the first part was informative. The second part was less interesting than it appeared.


Won-Lost Records of ACC Teams Hitting
at Least 50 Percent of Field Goals, 2011
(Through Games of Jan. 16)

School 50% Record
BC 7* 6-1
Clemson 7** 7-0
Duke 6 6-0
FSU 4* 4-0
Ga. Tech 0 0-0
Md 6 6-0
Miami 6 6-0
UNC 3 3-0
NC State 7* 7-0
UVa 4 4-0
Va. Tech 6* 6-0
Wake 4 4-0
* Asterisks denote ACC contests.
NOTE: Georgia Tech is the only ACC squad without a shooting performance this season in which it made at least half of its shots. Last year the Yellow Jackets had 11 such outings, a total surpassed only by Maryland and Miami. Included was 71.2 percent accuracy achieved against Kentucky State, best by an ACC team in 2010. Last season's Jackets also were among six ACC clubs that lost one or more games in which they hit at a 50 percent clip, along with BC, Clemson, Maryland, Virginia, and Miami, which lost twice in such circumstances.

"N.C. State's streak of four straight games of shooting better than 50 percent ended Tuesday," wrote the observer we'll call Joe. He proceeded to describe the Wolfpack's offensive successes and shortcomings in a loss at Boston College. Then he intoned, as if it meant something, "State is 7-0 when it shoots better than 50 percent."

While this was probably nothing more than a throwaway line, it's the sort of statistical revelation that seems more meaningful than it is. Why? Because through games of Jan. 16, ACC teams won 59 of the 60 games in which they've shot 50 percent or better. That's a 98.3 percent success rate.

To repeat: this season only one ACC squad in 60 that made at least half of its shots wound up losing the game -- BC at home against Harvard on Jan. 5.

Teams reached or surpassed the .500 shooting standard in six ACC contests this season - two times each against Georgia Tech (BC, Clemson) and Wake Forest (N.C. State, Virginia Tech), and once each against Miami (Clemson) and N.C. State (FSU).

These results make the Pack's 50-percent achievements virtually meaningless for comparative or analytical purposes. In fact, the stat is only slightly more revealing than the one we first saw in an LSU press release in the mid-1980s which proclaimed the Tigers were undefeated when scoring more points than their opponents.

There were 105 times over the course of the 2009-10 season that an ACC team managed at least 50 percent accuracy from the floor. Of those performances, 98, or 93.3 percent, resulted in victories. Not as automatic as this year, but close.

If you're not suitably impressed by the overwhelming nature of 93.3 percent predictability, consider that perhaps the most dominant program in collegiate sports, North Carolina women's soccer under Anson Dorrance, has compiled a 93.4 winning percentage. During those 32 seasons his teams captured 20 national championships and amassed 715 victories against 39 losses and 24 ties.

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