Is Utah the Best State in the Nation For Three-point Shooting?

I admit to being a stats junkie.

When I was five and first started following college basketball, back when Kresimir Cosic played for BYU (the first international all-American ever in US college basketball), I used to keep track of the stats on the page inside the program. I would circle a 1 every time someone made a free throw and a 2 whenever they made a field goal. I loved math and I loved BYU basketball.

On Monday mornings, my Mom tells me, I would ask her “where’s BYU?” I kept asking until she finally understood that what I meant was “where is BYU in the national rankings?” In junior high, I memorized all the scoring and shooting averages for all the BYU players.

When I was in high school, Danny Ainge was BYU’s star. I saw almost every home game he ever played in. He was the smartest player I’ve ever watched. He was more like a player coach. He’s the only person in history that I’ve ever seen grab the ball from the referee while taking a foul shot (back when they used to hand you the ball), throw the ball at the front of the rim before everyone was set, get his own rebound and score a layup. His famed last second shot against Notre Dame is a classic. ESPN rated it the #6 best finish in college basketball history. I wish I could find it on YouTube.

I grew up watching college basketball without three-pointers, but have loved them ever since they were introduced back in the 80s.

Danny Ainge was the second NBA player to ever hit 900 three pointers in a career.

This year, the state of Utah is dominating the country in three point shooting, in both individual three point shooting and team three point shooting percentages.

Shaun Green from Utah (a 6’8″ sophomore forward) ranks #2 by shooting 56% and Lee Cummard (a 6’6″ sophomore guard) from BYU ranks #5 with a 52.4% average.

The University of Utah ranks #5 in the nation in team three point shooting percentage, with a 42.3% average. BYU ranks #7 with a 41.8% average. Southern Utah ranks #14 at 40.8%. And even Utah Valley State College ranks #37 with a 39% average. (See all team rankings.)

Mike Rose tied his own BYU school record by hitting 8-10 from three-point range in a 27-point home victory against #25 UNLV last Saturday. The team had 15 to beat its all time record. It was one of the best played games I’ve ever seen.

So BYU has won 28 games in a row at home (2nd longest home winning streak in the country), and has won 11 of their last 13 games, including a big win against Air Force (ranked #13 at the time I believe), and yet BYU only moved up from #38 to #37 in the Coaches Poll last week. What is with that?

So my final thought is this: Is there a statistical correlation between being universities that are ranked high in the “stone-cold sober” category and those that are great at three-point shooting?

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