You are going to hear the subject of this article a lot in the next few weeks. Today, it was Georgia trailing MSU and the ever un-informed Bill Raftery yelling about it. Georgia came up with a steal and a bucket and made it an eight point game late. On the ensuing possession, Georgia's J.J. Frazier made an incredible block to get the ball back with the Bulldogs down eight with around 40 seconds to play. As the ball came up court, Raftery vehemently urged the Dawgs to eschew the three in favor of two. Was he right?
Well, here's what happened after that.
|0:35||Charles Mann made Layup.||58-64|
|0:35||58-64||Foul on Matt Costello.|
|0:35||Charles Mann missed Free Throw.||58-64|
|0:35||58-64||Colby Wollenman Defensive Rebound.|
|0:33||Foul on Nemanja Djurisic.||58-64|
|0:33||58-64||Colby Wollenman missed Free Throw.|
|0:33||Nemanja Djurisic Defensive Rebound.||58-64|
|0:28||58-64||Foul on Lourawls Nairn Jr..|
|0:28||Charles Mann made Free Throw.||59-64|
|0:28||Charles Mann made Free Throw.||60-64|
|0:27||Foul on Kenny Gaines.||60-64|
|0:27||60-65||Denzel Valentine made Free Throw.|
|0:27||60-66||Denzel Valentine made Free Throw.|
|0:21||Kenny Gaines made Jumper.||62-66|
|0:21||62-66||Foul on Colby Wollenman.|
|0:21||Kenny Gaines made Free Throw.||63-66|
|0:21||Foul on Taylor Echols.||63-66|
|0:21||63-67||Denzel Valentine made Free Throw.|
|0:21||63-68||Denzel Valentine made Free Throw.|
|0:16||Charles Mann missed Layup.||63-68|
Georgia never once had the ball with a chance to so much as tie the game. They extended it by fouling, yes, but MSU executed from the line and the Bulldogs insistence on continuing to try to only get two kept them from making any headway. Even the missed front end of a one and one and an and one on the other end didn't end up making a difference. Georgia never tried a three when it mattered, so they lost. (Not that they had a great chance anyway).
With some help from our resident number cruncher, here's what the probabilities say you should do. If you're down two or three with 30-50 seconds left, go for two. If down one or two with under 30 seconds left, go for two. If down three with under 30 seconds left, shoot the three. In short, teams need to be shooting from deep far sooner than most announcers think they should. In Georgia's case, trailing by eight with just under 40 seconds to play, mathematical probability said they needed threes, and badly. Instead, they followed Bill Raftery and the common thinking, and they'll be watching the rest of the tournament from home.