Commentary

Five teams that need the 3

Some big-name teams will live or die with their long-range accuracy

Updated: March 12, 2012, 1:39 PM ET
By John Gasaway | ESPN Insider
Tim Hardaway Jr.Rick Osentoski/US PresswireMichigan loves the 3. Though Tim Hardaway Jr. is not the most accurate shooter, he takes care of the ball.

There's a problem with measuring how important the ability to make 3-point shots is in the NCAA tournament. By definition, the best teams in the country tend to do without 3s. With the outstanding exception of Ohio State last year, teams given a No. 1 seed by the NCAA selection committee don't attempt many shots from beyond the arc.

Such teams don't succeed because they stay away from 3s, of course. It's just that top seeds like Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina and Michigan State feel they have adequate means at their disposal to score enough points in the paint. More often than not, those top seeds have been proven correct.

Not every team has that luxury, however. So with the brackets set for this year's tournament, we can take a look at which offenses in the field of 68 rely most heavily on 3-point attempts. By definition these offenses will be somewhat more susceptible to swings in performance -- both for better and for worse -- than other tournament teams on that side of the ball, though it's a susceptibility that can be mitigated with consistency in other areas (taking care of the ball, getting to the line, etc.).

Also note that you'll see some overlap between this list and a ranking of perimeter-oriented offenses that I did earlier this season. In fact every team I talked about back then made the tournament. Maybe there's something to this so-called "3-point shot" the youngsters talk about nowadays.

By the way, the numbers below refer to the percentage of each team's shot attempts that were 3s in conference play. If you're about to face one of these perimeter-oriented outfits, you need to hope the 3s aren't falling for your opponent this week:

Florida Gators (3FGA/FGA: 0.45)

The Gators were never really able to piece together enough really "good" wins this season to impress the selection committee or fans in general, so Billy Donovan's team is seeded on the 7-line in the West. Florida will face Virginia in Omaha, and to call this matchup an instance of good offense versus good defense would be an understatement.