Commentary

Duke more likely to die by 3 this year

With a weaker interior presence, off shooting nights will be harder to overcome

Updated: March 14, 2011, 2:09 PM ET
By Matt Meyers | ESPN Insider
Kyle SinglerStreeter Lecka/Getty ImagesSingler has struggled from deep in the Blue Devils' biggest losses this season.

Before last season's NCAA tournament, I penned a piece for Insider that examined the old adage that if "you live by the 3, you die by the 3." There was no hard-and-fast conclusion, but the recent data suggests that teams that are overly reliant on the 3 have had trouble reaching the Final Four, with only two teams from 2004 through 2009 making it that far while getting more than 30 percent of their points from beyond the arc (Louisville and Illinois, 2005).

Of course, I was left with a little egg on my face when Duke, a team I suggested would have trouble in the NCAA Tournament because it got 29.1 percent of its points from 3-pointers, won the national title. Not only that, but Butler (29.9 percent of points from deep) and West Virginia (29.0 percent) also made it to Indy. If we wanted to be technical, we could say, "but none of them cracked 30 percent!" It would make last year's analysis look smarter, but that was a relatively arbitrary cutoff, and it's clear that three of last year's Final Four teams were reliant on the 3.

So does that mean the theory of "live by the 3, die by the 3" is debunked? Hardly.