Seeking the next extreme scoring event


Michigan State rang up 1.33 points per trip against Iowa. Highly impressive, but not quite “extreme.” (MSU Athletics)

With major-conference play having already tipped off in the Big Ten, this is a good time to revisit the record book. The first thing to be said of the book is that it’s pretty big. Starting with the 2006 season and running up through last night, there have been 8,355 major-conference games played.

Out of all that basketball, there have been just 49 instances where a team scored 1.45 points per trip or better. And, in what surely ranks as the all-time upset, two of those instances actually happened in the same game. It’s tough to lose when you score 1.46 points per possession, but that’s exactly what happened to Buzz Williams on February 18, 2017. Hoops. Go figure.

When something occurs 49 times out of 8,355 chances, that gives us roughly a one-in-170 shot at seeing the amazing episode in question at any given game. Put rather more positively, we’ll expect to see three or four extreme scoring events this coming season in major-conference play. An extreme scoring event is one where a team scores at least 1.45 points per trip.

It’s no surprise to learn that fully 78 percent of such eruptions have taken place on the “extreme” team’s home floor. It is perhaps rather more surprising, however, to note that 20 percent of these events have occurred in March. The month clearly punches above its weight in extreme scoring events. In fact, if you had to roll the dice on just one game this year that could make this list, you should take a long look at a Big Ten senior day. Again, go figure.

Naturally, scoring’s not the only extreme event under the sun. Shooting can also, on occasion, achieve escape velocity. Conveniently, a 75.0 effective FG percentage is eerily similar in its rarity to the 1.45 threshold for offense. The best shooting in major-conference play since 2006 was recorded by Clemson at home against Georgia Tech on January 12, 2011: 83.3 eFG percentage. No, that’s still nowhere near the 92.5 that, incredibly, Creighton hung on Southern Illinois back in the Bluejays’ Missouri Valley days on February 14, 2012.

The interesting thing about extreme shooting is that it’s markedly and perhaps even radically less dependent on venue than offense appears to be. Since 2006, extreme shooting events have been distributed exactly 50-50 between “home” and “road” in major-conference play.

By default, this would seem to suggest that outlandish shot volume must be somewhat venue-dependent, at least more so than outlandish shooting. Let’s hold that thought. For now, we can observe simply that teams landing on the 1.45-and-over extreme offense list are equally ridiculous at both accuracy (average eFG percentage: 69.3) and volume (mean SVI: 108.2).

Here’s what I have under the heading of extreme scoring events in major-conference play, starting in 2006. If you have notable examples from earlier than that, I’m all ears.

                            opponent       H/A  PPP
DePaul          2-Mar-06    Syracuse        H   1.64
Ohio State      6-Mar-11    Wisconsin       H   1.61
Purdue          18-Jan-16   Rutgers         A   1.56
Villanova       7-Mar-15    St. John's      H   1.55
Wisconsin       23-Jan-11   Northwestern    A   1.55
Indiana         3-Mar-07    Penn State      H   1.55
Ohio State      5-Jan-06    Penn State      H   1.55
Michigan        26-Jan-17   Indiana         H   1.54
Duke            4-Jan-17    Georgia Tech    H   1.54
Louisville      18-Feb-17   Virginia Tech   H   1.53
Wisconsin       20-Jan-15   Iowa            H   1.52
Syracuse        5-Mar-11    DePaul          H   1.52
Northwestern    27-Feb-16   Rutgers         H   1.51
Texas A&M       12-Jan-08   Colorado        H   1.50
Georgetown      27-Jan-07   Cincinnati      H   1.50
North Carolina  22-Feb-06   NC State        A   1.50
Florida State   5-Feb-17    Clemson         H   1.49
Wisconsin       6-Feb-11    Michigan State  H   1.49
Kansas          3-Mar-08    Texas Tech      H   1.49
TCU             17-Jan-18   Iowa State      H   1.48
Louisville      24-Jan-17   Pitt            A   1.48
Georgia         15-Jan-11   Ole Miss        A   1.48
Minnesota       7-Mar-10    Iowa            H   1.48
Boston College  12-Jan-08   Wake Forest     H   1.48
West Virginia   31-Jan-07   Rutgers         A   1.48
Creighton       16-Feb-14   Villanova       H   1.47
Michigan State  2-Mar-08    Indiana         H   1.47
Kansas          19-Feb-18   Oklahoma        H   1.46
Villanova       1-Feb-18    Creighton       H   1.46
Iowa State      31-Jan-18   West Virginia   H   1.46
Duke            18-Feb-17   Wake Forest     H   1.46
Virginia Tech   18-Feb-17   Louisville      A   1.46
Indiana         19-Jan-16   Illinois        H   1.46
Duke            7-Feb-15    Notre Dame      H   1.46
Baylor          22-Feb-14   West Virginia   A   1.46
West Virginia   22-Jan-14   Texas Tech      H   1.46
Oregon          3-Mar-12    Utah            H   1.46
Michigan        2-Mar-10    Minnesota       H   1.46
Michigan State  20-Feb-08   Penn State      H   1.46
Oregon          20-Jan-07   Cal             H   1.46
North Carolina  9-Jan-18    Boston College  H   1.45
Michigan State  4-Jan-18    Maryland        H   1.45
Creighton       20-Jan-14   Villanova       A   1.45
North Carolina  22-Feb-14   Wake Forest     H   1.45
Duke            21-Feb-13   Virginia Tech   A   1.45
Missouri        3-Jan-12    Oklahoma        H   1.45
Pitt            14-Feb-09   Cincinnati      H   1.45
Michigan State  20-Jan-07   Penn State      A   1.45
Tennessee       15-Feb-06   Auburn          H   1.45

Extreme scoring teams, I salute you. As for the hopefuls trying to join this list in 2019, best of luck. Incredibly, you are all chasing DePaul.