And if the betting markets for the first night of the NIT are any indication, scoring will go up by about 7%. Here’s a comparison of my predicted total score, which doesn’t account for the 30-second shot clock and larger restricted area being used, and those provided at Pinnacle for the seven NIT games tonight.
Predicted total score of Tuesday’s NIT games
Me Market Ala/Ill 126 136 GW/Pitt 125 136 NCC/Miami 117 129 UTEP/Murray 144 151 Mont/TAMU 125 134 UCD/Stan 140 148 Iona/URI 144 152
The difference here is an average of seven percent. Apply that to the average scoring this season of 66.85 points per game and you’d get 71.5. That’s over a point higher than last season when the scoring average was propped up by an increase in free throws early in the season. And it’s higher than any season since 1996.
What isn’t clear from these numbers is how much of a trade-off there will be between increased pace and decreased efficiency. When the shot clock was decreased from 45 to 35 seconds in 1994, there was roughly a two percent increase in pace with a very small drop in efficiency, but this change may be more meaningful.
It’s not terribly straightforward how efficiency will change, though. Offenses may be rushed more often under a 30-second shot clock, but presumably that will lead to more missed shots and turnovers in a half-court offense, and the results of those things will mean more possessions against a defense that’s not completely set. So the anticipated drop in efficiency may be overstated. The NIT will give some good data, but even before the games are played, it appears scoring is going to be boosted significantly.
Update: In the NIT first round last season, actual totals were 2.6% higher than my predictions. If we assume that is real, then about 4.5% of the expected scoring increase is due to the rules changes. That would lead to a scoring average of 70.1 next season, or slightly less than the 70.25 of last season.