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Is There A Betting Edge With The 2017 Final Four Venue?

One of the stories heading into the Final Four last year was the venue at Houston NRG Stadium

The backdrop behind the basket looked like a dark abyss that created an empty black hole where beautiful arching jumpers went to die. The numbers showed that shooting percentages went down in the venue in previous college games held there but the OVER ended up cashing for all three games of Final Four weekend. 

The Final Four heads to Phoenix this weekend and while no mainstream media appear to be talking much about how the venue impacts shooting percentages, I wanted to look into it anyway. So I got our highly skilled and way-smarter-than-I-am data nerds to check it out and here’s what they found: 

“We only have 3 games on record played at University of Phoenix Stadium, it was in 2009 March Madness, it was the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games in the West Region that year. In these games the total points scored were 157, 193 and 132 for an average of 160.67. The favorite team was 2-1 straight up and against the spread and the OVER was 2-1.” 

Here are the combined shooting percentages for those three games along with the average for the three combined:

Field goal %45.751.940.2Avg: 45.9
Free throw %72.762.361.0Avg: 65.3
3-point %23.329.029.0Avg: 27.1

It’s a tiny sample size, admittedly, but it’s all we’ve got. As you can see, the 3-point shooting percentage wasn’t so hot in any of those games. If this turns out to be an indicator of what’s to come, then Oregon might be the team that’s most in trouble in Arizona. 

Of the four teams remaining, none relies more on the trey than the Ducks with 8.6 3-pointers per game this season. The Ducks have also needed the 3-pointer more than any of the other three teams in the tournament with 35 through four games. Gonzaga is second with 28 3’s in the tournament and the team needed 7.3 per game this season, which also ranks as the second-most among the four teams remaining. 

Here’s a look at the 3-point situation for all four teams heading to Phoenix: 

3-point shooting for the Final Four teams
TeamSeason 3-pointers per gameSeason 3-point %3-pointers made in 2017 tourn.
South Carolina6.733.825
North Carolina7.136.625
Gonzaga7.337.828
Oregon8.638.335

I tend to think football stadiums make for poor 3-point shooting conditions so the numbers from previous games held here make some sense to me. If these numbers do hold up, it will be intriguing to see if there is any value in UNC and South Carolina, who rely less on 3-pointers than their opponents.  

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