As you already probably know, the NCAA Tournament kicked off on Thursday and has quickly taken over our lives. We're all asking one another how our brackets are doing (not well) and it gives us an excuse to skip class (I skipped only one) or work. And for me, at least, it means a lot of frustration because of missed free-throws, lots of missed free-throws.
I've became obsessive over free-throws when my Memphis Tigers lost the 2008 National Championship to the Kansas Jayhawks because of their inability to hit the darn things when it mattered. Also, I feel that I can speak with authority on the topic since I won a few free-throws shooting contests back in the day and led my team in free-throw percentage during senior year. So last year I kept up with all the free-throws shot by every team just to see how many games would have gone differently if teams had just hit their free-throws. In last year's opening round, the outcome of eight games would have been different if teams had hit their foul shots, including the game between #1 Pittsburgh and #16 East Tennessee State; ETSU lost 72-62, but missed half of their free-throws, going 12-24. Those shots would have been huge. The number of games decided by a lack of good free-throw shooting decreased as the tournament progressed (obviously), but they still had a big impact. In the second round, four teams would have won with more made free-throws; in the Sweet Sixteen, only one team lost because of free-throws, and it was Memphis, which just caused me more angst about free-throws; in the Elite Eight, it was Pittsburgh; in the Final Four, it was Connecticut; and in the Championship, free-throws didn't matter because North Carolina blew out Michigan State.
And I'm doing it again this year, on my own blog, so come on over if you would also like to malign about missed free-throws. I just got done taking a look at the first round and the face of the tournament could have looked a lot differently because of foul shots.