Sometime during the national semifinals Clark Kellogg remarked that some threes were easier than others. I can’t remember his statement exactly. It had to do with Wichita State getting open looks against Louisville and the particular shots they were getting were the easiest shots to hit.
In the NBA, it’s been documented that the corner 3 is the best value but at least some of that advantage is due to the irregular dimensions of the NBA three-point line. The college line is a fixed 20’ 9” from the center of the hoop at all points on the floor. Fortunately, this is easily testable since shot chart data is posted for hundreds of games at cbssports.com. To be exact, there is data for 3,435 games since the line was moved to its current distance for the 2009 season.
For this analysis, I looked at all shots that were within two feet of the three-point line and calculated the angle of the shot relative to the baseline. In total, there are 32,395 shots available to be examined. Three-point accuracy vs. angle of shot is plotted below.
Angle 3PM-3PA Pct 0-10 1655-4369 37.9 10-20 973-2613 37.2 20-30 782-2123 36.8 30-40 1417-4030 35.2 40-50 2186-6332 34.5 50-60 1949-5645 34.5 60-70 1008-2842 35.5 70-80 830-2348 35.3 80-90 750-2093 35.8
As it turns out, the corner three is also the most accurate three-point shot in the college game. Although, the shot from the wing is least accurate. Obviously, you have to take the data with a degree of skepticism. On any individual shot, there’s plenty of inaccuracy in recording shot location. But over the course of thousands of shots, the influence of those errors should be minimized.
[Data was updated on 9/21 to correct some inaccuracies in parsing 2013 shot locations.]