NCAA Title Games - Anti Big 10 Bias?

Submitted by Mojave Gold on March 26th, 2016 at 11:13 PM


The Big 10 title drought has been much discussed.  During these games I have noticed that the opponents have been on the foul line much more, so I did a little research.  In the past 6 title games (all losses) the opponent on average has shot 10.2 free throws more than the Big 10 team.

Here are the free throw stats:


- 2015 - Wisc 10, Duke 20

- 2013 - UM 25, Louis 23

- 2009 - MSU 29, UNC 40

- 2007 - OSU 17, Flor 25

- 2005 - Ill 6, UNC 19

- 2002 - IU 7, Mary 28 (B1G I know ;))

What is the cause of this?  Does the Big 10 team suddenly hack more in the final?  Or do the refs show an anti-Big 10 bias?  It could be argued with equal free throw attempts the Big 10 would have won 4 to 5 additional titles.

Thank you for your input.



March 27th, 2016 at 12:14 AM ^

Until Big Ten refs start calling basketball instead of hardwood football, look for more of the same.  What really sucks is that finesse teams get beaten up by the bigger, chunkier teams in the Big Ten.  This results in inaccurate seedings.  

Teams like Sparty, Purdue, Iowa and Wisconsin get higher seeds than they deserve while teams like Michigan, Indiana and Maryland lose games they could have won if the refs were calling the same game everyone else in the country does and end up with lower seeds than they deserve. 

Sometimes, the MMSU's and Wiscys of the world make it into the Final Four.  But if the Big Ten officiated games like everyone else, you wouldn't have situations where the "top" Big Ten teams are losing due to the amount of fouls being called against them.

The other major ramification: most of the Big Ten teams build chunky teams because that's what wins in the Big Ten. Chunky, "tough" teams don't win it all anymore.  

When the Big Ten finally decides to enter the 21st century, Big Ten teams will be treated more "fairly" by refs in the NCAA Tournament.  It's time to start calling basketball again.


Michigan FTW Again

March 26th, 2016 at 11:19 PM ^

Big = 3 letters. Ten = 3 letters. And 1 = 3 point play. 3 sides = triangle. Does Big Ten = Illuminati?? Did the refs figure it out???

Idk man, maybe B1G teams should just foul less...


March 26th, 2016 at 11:22 PM ^

Big 10 conference plays a more physical style in the season, teams are not adjusting to it during the tourney. No conspiracy. Might be something the Big 10 should look at in calling games to prepare teams for the tourney - also would benefit Michigan greatly too.

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Maize in Cincy

March 26th, 2016 at 11:25 PM ^

What is the average difference between winner and loser when a B1G team is not in it?  I'm guessing the winner is going to average more in general because the team behind is going to foul at the end.


March 26th, 2016 at 11:43 PM ^

Going through the list:

Wisconsin 15, Michigan 13, and Illinois 05 were jump-shooting teams. The only reason Duke and Louisville didn't have even more FTA is because UW and UM are amazingly adept at playing defense without fouling.

MSU 09 was a pretty good team. UNC 09 was a historically good team. They could have won that game by 50 if they wanted to.

Ohio State 07 had a very good front line of Othello Hunter and Greg Oden, but Florida 07 had Noah and Horford. 

I didn't watch the 2002 title game so I guess I don't really know.

I think Maize in Cincy's point is legit, though. The losing team generally takes more three pointers, fouls at the ends of games, and probably plays more aggressive defense, all of which conspire to create the difference you're noting. 

The better sample would be to take ALL of the Big Ten's tournament games (wins and losses) from the last 10-15 years and see if there's still a trend. Or at least look at the semifinal wins in these 6 cases if you don't want to do all of that research (if the NCAA were really biased against the Big Ten, we'd surely see it in the semis, too).


March 26th, 2016 at 11:56 PM ^

Style of play is a huge factor. Big Ten teams tend to emphasize defense and aggressive play more so than say the ACC. It's not a hard and fast rule but historically the case generally. I'd imagine these teams get used to playing that way all year and officials call the game slightly different and then in the tournament have a bit of trouble adjusting to tempo teams and foul more.

Also as other have pointed out, maybe they're just not as good. Not as big or strong or quick. The team that is smaller and slower is probably going to foul more. Not sure if that's true, but I guess you could run a multi variate regression to see how much of a factor "conference" is over other well documented factors. Mathlete?

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March 27th, 2016 at 12:00 AM ^

Yeah, so, it's pretty amazing that one looks at a single statistical disparity over a span of 13 years, doesn't consider a single other factor, and the first conclusion drawn is some sort of baseless widespread bias against a conference. Plus, and this is my favorite part, prima facie asserts that the conference could have won "4 to 5 additional titles."

Did you watch any of those games? I did. The B1G team was significantly outmatched in four of them. Both UNC teams in question were absolutely dominant collections of talent that had their way with their respective opponents inside. IU was a massive Cinderella underdog that really had no business being in the final at all. And, as stated, OSU was a quality team that ran into a buzzsaw in Florida.

The best match ups were Wisconsin last year and... Michigan, which had more foul shots.

As stated above, also worth remembering that teams playing from behind are going to foul.

Honestly, the OP should have considered the actual games first.


March 27th, 2016 at 6:57 AM ^

Other statistics that the OP may want to consider that would probably be even more telling than just FTs attempted are things like personal fouls per defensive possession, which typically has a lot of Big Ten teams in the top fifth or so of Division I listings. FTAs per FGA is another telling one too for this study perhaps, as the Big Ten usually seems to be in the middle to just below the Division I mean, all of which indicates the style of play others have mentioned here. There are several sites that track those.



March 27th, 2016 at 8:37 AM ^

idk about any other year, but watching last years fane its because Duke loaded with ridiculous talent (Grayson Allen was somehow at the bottom of their rotation.. think about that) and they knew how to draw fouls and throw in circus shots.

Perkis-Size Me

March 27th, 2016 at 8:50 AM ^

You got them. You solved the case. It's a decades long conspiracy against the Big Ten....

Keep in mind too that in some of these games, the Big Ten team that played got its ass run off the court. UNC-MSU immediately comes to mind. So does IU-Maryland and OSU-Florida. Those games weren't necessarily blowouts like MSU-UNC but they were never really in doubt.

Sure there may have been some bad breaks (cough Burke cough), but on at least several occasions the Big Ten team just ran into a friggin buzzsaw and was completely outmatched. There was no conspiracy. The other team was just that much better.

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March 27th, 2016 at 9:52 AM ^

The only part that bugs me about that list is that Louisville hasn't been stripped of that title yet.  Nothing against them, but if you are running the equivalent of a brothel on campus for athletes, you probably shouldn't be able to keep your titles.

King Douche Ornery

March 27th, 2016 at 10:17 AM ^

We got the daily "Whine like a MgoBitch About Referees" thread out of the way this early in the morning.

Wait, I just checked the time this shit was posted.

OK, I'll wait for Sunday's whine thread.


March 27th, 2016 at 2:33 PM ^

were three-point heavy shooting teams (at least for the 2005 Illinois 2nd half comeback against UNC).  2009 MSU got smoked and the discrepancy in free throws is probably just a reflection of that.