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Why balance is key in college basketball

By Greg Peterson  () 

As a lot of people know, teams that shoot free throws well have a lot of value for winning straight up and against the spread. It is often dicey to bet on a team that shoots poorly from the line, especially on a spread of about six or eight, when late fouling could come into play.

Something that often gets lost, though, is handicapping a team based on the frequency at which it gets to the free throw line. Among the bottom 22 college teams in free throws made per possession, 19 had covered fewer than 50% of their games.

It makes sense that if a team is not making a lot of free throws and not getting to the line often, it is probably not leading too many games late and not doing a good job of pressuring opponents.

However, an overreliance on free throws also can exist. Just seven of the top 23 teams in free throws per possession made were hitting above 50% against the spread, though five teams were about .500.

It is interesting to see both outliers on the spectrum loaded with teams that have not been getting to the window. The teams getting to the line less often have been worse, but it goes to show that balance is key on offense. Team relying too much on free throws to generate offense have provided a lot of letdowns along with teams that just do not get there in general.

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