Bad Luck or Bad Defense? 3-pt Hot Streak Against UM

Submitted by Swayze Howell Sheen on January 14th, 2017 at 6:55 PM

Here are the 3-pt field goal stats of our opposition from the last five games:

Nebraska 09/18 50%
Illinois 09/14 64%
Maryland 10/15 67%
Pennstate 08/19 42%
Iowa 11/19 58%

As you can see, only once in the last five has a team hit fewer than 50% of their 3-pt attempts against Michigan, and even that was a pretty good 42% clip from Penn State.

On the recent WTKA roundtable, it was suggested (by Craig Ross, I believe) that this was just "bad luck". So, what do you all think? Bad luck, or bad defense? If other teams stop having the hot hand against us (regression to the mean and all), will the season suddenly seem a bit more salvageable? 




January 14th, 2017 at 7:44 PM ^

I would agree if it were two or three games, but five games exhibits a pattern. This is purely bad defense. We've allowed horrendous 3pt %'s all year and it's too consistent to write off as bad luck. One of a few reasons Beilein should be let go, but definitely a big one.


January 15th, 2017 at 9:33 AM ^

think the poor perimeter defense is a symptom of a bigger problem, and that is interior and help side defense. I think our defenders sag on the perimeter because they have no confidence in help and rotations. Once a player gets by a Michigan defender on the outside it is a layup, often entirely uncontested. We are a mess defensively. I actually think we have some decent perimeter defenders, it is team defensive principles that are entirely lacking......and that is a coaching issue.


January 14th, 2017 at 7:43 PM ^

That probably plays some role, but as discussed below, it's questionable how much defense even affects 3P%. Even assuming the defense is partly to blame, these numbers through a whole season would be by far the worst in the history of the big ten. The defense is not the far and away worst defense in big ten history.

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January 14th, 2017 at 10:23 PM ^

Questionable how much defense affects 3 point percentage? Haha. I have seen this and it still is the biggest load of crap. Great defense can sometimes prevent a 3 pointer from even being shot so it's an absurd claim. That is on par with sabermetrics guys in baseball who have numbers that show a player being better than another because of his WAR when it doesn't show you that the particular guy can't hit in the clutch. Some things are just obvious. Defense affects shooting and anyone who has played basketball knows this.


January 14th, 2017 at 7:01 PM ^

The various advanced statistics guys scoff at the relevance of 3-point defense; they argue that what matters is not giving up attempts, as opposed to what happens once the guy goes up to shoot.

It's weird though.  Every game it seems like someone on the other team goes NBA Jam and starts draining stepback threes.  Some of it might be that guys are able to get into a rhythm on the many open looks they do get, and that confidence leads to them draining the heat-check ones, too.



January 14th, 2017 at 7:20 PM ^

This is correct.

At the same time, would be interested to do a SportsVU-style sophisticated analysis to see how open U-M's opponents have been on their shots. I would guess it would show that this streak is just bad luck.

There will be regression to the mean. Along with death and taxes, the law of large numbers always prevails.


January 14th, 2017 at 7:32 PM ^

I think it's a bit like turnover margin in football. Any trends wash out at a large scale, but it's not entirely random, i.e., Alabama. Michigan, for as long as Beilein has been coach, has sucked at closing out shooters. Kenpom numbers support this too.


January 14th, 2017 at 7:04 PM ^

Considering it's 5 games in a row, and it's not like we've been good at defense in general under Beilein, I'm gonna go with bad defense.


January 14th, 2017 at 7:11 PM ^

Bieleins defenses often sag on the perimeter to try and cut off dribble penetration. This would work with lengthy guards. We don't possess those. An increased emphasis on 3 and d has also led to more guys getting better at shooting. There were no stretch fours back in the day. They are everywhere now. Or maybe it's just bad preparation, scouting and execution on the defensive side of things.

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January 14th, 2017 at 7:20 PM ^

Not attempting to convert any anti-Beilien enthusiasts by promoting the advanced metrics argument.  That said, for those interested in learning more about what Craig and Brian were referencing, here's a brief blog post from KenPom explaining "3 point defense luck".
"When someone discusses three-point defense in terms of three-point percentage, they might as well make the leap to discuss free-throw defense in similar terms. Teams have much more control over how many three’s their opponents shoot than how many they make."
Additional KenPom reading:
(Had to kill the later links because for whatever reason they triggered the boards auto spam filter. You'll need to copy and paste.)


January 14th, 2017 at 10:34 PM ^

This is not directed at you at all Jmo--I just think it's a good indicator that the program is in a bad place when people have to start using crazy statistics to defend why the team is getting their asses handed to them instead of being more concerned with holding them accountable for poor performance. As far as KenPom goes, I don't give a fuck if we're ranked #46 or #50 or whatever number we are. It used to be if you weren't in the Top 25 you were unranked.


January 14th, 2017 at 7:19 PM ^

on UMHoops the other day: while closely contested v. poorly contested looks don't seem to yield that much statistical variation, getting lots of looks at all is a different thing, as is wide open looks. And I would add this: teams are getting good looks not so much because our 3-pt D is bad but because they are getting great dribble penetration and kickouts.


January 14th, 2017 at 7:28 PM ^

Walton sags off so much that he can't even get across to get his man ! The bad thing g he is sagged off that far and still can't help in the paint ! His injuries have made him slower just like Irvin . We can't even hedge properly on the ball screen ! How can't this be fixed when we have an assistant who was suppose to be a Defensive specialist ? It's the MAC talent in Michigan uniforms besides a few players


January 14th, 2017 at 7:35 PM ^

It's clearly bad defense when it keeps happening to you. Also we can't stop guards from driving into the paint. This is like when everyone we played in 2010 had a hot qb. If we get in their face, they're not going to hit 60 percent of their threes.


January 14th, 2017 at 7:57 PM ^

Lots of open looks

Players look lost at times trying to find a man. What I can't figure out is why. And how far they've fallen from the early season run. Man D is talking, switching, telling people whether to go high or low around screens, and getting your ever-lovin' hands in a shooter's face. My only guess is that as more games are on tape teams see how to beat the D and the team doesn't have vocal leaders. Morris and Novack aren't walking through that door. Hopefully last night's meeting is the spark of leadership for our seniors.

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January 14th, 2017 at 8:36 PM ^

Is that, according to every advanced stats guy, teams literally do not have control over how well an opponent shoots from three (to the point that they have more control over how well a team shoots from the free throw line--something they have absolutely no control over). What they do have control over is the number of attempts they give up, which we obviously suck at.

And, yes, good teams can go through stretches where opponent shoot a ridiculous percentage from 3, because variance is massive, and a total bitch.

Mitch Cumstein

January 14th, 2017 at 8:52 PM ^

I'm a bit wary of the advanced stat argument in this particular case (3s attempted not made). If we gave any resistance to getting poorly contested layups, we would give up a lot more open 3s (both of which are typically available). The point is our defense sucks and gives up great looks from both 3 and 2. The percentages are surprisingly high, so maybe a little bad luck, but the volume argument doesn't hold in my opinion with this defense.


January 14th, 2017 at 8:35 PM ^

Open shots lead to more males yes, but some teams are luckier than other with those shots being made. Players still have to make the shots.