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.]