Gators walking a fine line at charity stripe

Gators walking a fine line at charity stripe

Published Jan. 17, 2011 1:03 p.m. ET


Florida Gators basketball color analyst
Jan. 17, 2011

In college basketball today it is said there is a fine line between winning and losing. The term parity is used to describe how competition has narrowed the difference between the skill levels of most of the 340 Division 1 teams but particularly the top 60 to 100 teams in the country.

There is, however, one very narrow line: It is 2 inches wide and 12 feet long and located 15 feet from the front edge of a basketball rim.

The line provides the only opportunity during a basketball game one is guaranteed an opportunity to actually shoot the ball in an unguarded moment. The clock is stopped and the person shooting the ball is given 10 seconds from the time he is handed the ball until he releases it to the basket. It is the one shooting situation that remains absolutely constant from moment to moment and game to game. The circumstances never change. Exactly the same distance; no defender; same allotted time to shoot.

Yet, for as long as men's basketball has kept national statistic,  back to somewhere in the mid-1960s, college players have only made about 69 percent of their free-throw attempts.

Currently, the team with the best free-throw percentage at this point in the 2011 season belongs to Wisconsin. The Badgers are averaging 81.2 percent and ranked 20th in the national rankings.

Of the 25 teams with the best free-throw-shooting percentage at this stage, only three others are currently ranked in the Top 25. They are Villanova, Connecticut and Duke. Until this week, Duke held the No. 1 college basketball ranking but is currently the 25th-best free-throw-shooting team with a 75.2 percentage.

The Gators are making 65 percent of their opportunities from the free-throw line, which puts them at No. 280 in the national rankings. Saturday afternoon, they had 22 free-throw chances to score and converted only 12