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UNC Three Point Shooting and National Title Hopes

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week over on SB Nation, Ricky O'Donnell asked if UNC could win the national title with the current state of its perimeter shooting. The Tar Heels have been mired in a multiple game slump from beyond the arc with Marcus Paige recently solved troubles at the center. At present UNC is shooting 30.8% from three point range and just 26% in ACC play.

Since the advent of the three point shot in 1987, UNC's worst season from beyond the arc was 32.8 in 2011. In the almost 30 years since the three point shot was added to college basketball, UNC has been under 35% as a team just six times with this season looking very much like it could be #7.

The question of whether UNC can win a title with bad three point shooting is probably best answered with looking at what past national champions have done.

Year Team 3P%
1987 Indiana 50.8
1988 Kansas 33.5
1989 Michigan 46.8
1990 UNLV 36.6
1991 Duke 38.3
1992 Duke 43.4
1993 UNC 37.2
1994 Arkansas 38.7
1995 UCLA 34.1
1996 Kentucky 39.7
1997 Arizona 37.0
1998 Kentucky 36.7
1999 UConn 34.4
2000 Michigan St. 37.8
2001 Duke 38.5
2002 Maryland 37.4
2003 Syracuse 34.4
2004 UConn 40.2
2005 UNC 40.3
2006 Florida 39.2
2007 Florida 40.9
2008 Kansas 39.7
2009 UNC 38.5
2010 Duke 38.5
2011 UConn 32.9
2012 Kentucky 37.8
2013 Louisville 33.3
2014 UConn 38.7
2015 Duke 38.7

The bad news first. The lowest 3P% for a national champion in the history of the shot is UConn's 32.9% in 2011 followed by Louisville at 33.3% in 2013 and Kansas at 33.5% in 1988. Also of note is the fact there haven't been many NCAA champions who were even mediocre from three.  During the KenPom era, the average 3P% has hovered around 34%. On this list only six teams have been worse than what is generally considered average three point shooting.

The good news is there is still plenty of season left to play. There exists the possibility UNC can find a groove from three point range much like the Tar Heels did at the end of last season. At this point that is what really matters where the three point shooting is concerned. As long as the shots are falling at the right time, what has happened so far will be inconsequential.