Getting to the Foul Line

It's called the charity stripe for a reason. A team that gets fouled in the act of shooting or over and over again in a game, gets to shoot free throws.

The more free throws a team attempts, the better opportunity it has to score and win games.

This is measured through a team's free throw rate.

FTRate = FTA / FGA

The amount of free throw attempts divided by the amount of field goal attempts.

For example, New Mexico attempted 780 free throws and 1693 shots over 31 games in 2016-2017.

The Lobos' free throw rate was 46.1, the best amongst all Division-I teams over the course of the season.

FTRate = 780 / 1693 = 0.4607 * 100

Defensive Free Throw Rate

A team's ability to prevent their opponent from getting to the foul line is equally important.

If the opposition attempts fewer free throws, it decreases their opportunity to score and increases a team's chance to win.

For example, Villanova's defensive free throw rate was the best in the country in the 2016-2017 season.

Villanova's opponents attempted 445 free throws and 2018 field goals in 36 games in 2016-2017.

The Wildcats' Free Throw Rate was 22.1.

FTRate = 445 / 2018 = 0.2205 * 100

What about made free throws?

Free throw rate puts more value on getting to the foul line. Not making foul shots.

Volume is more important in this stat. If a team can attempt more free throws, it has a better chance to score and win.

The assumption is a team that attempts more free throws is better than a team that makes more free throws over time.

In the 2016 NCAA Tournament Third Round match up between Notre Dame and West Virginia, Notre Dame made every free throw it attempted (17-17).

West Virginia attempted 9 more free throws (21-26) and won the game by 12 points.

The logic here is the more attempts, the more opportunity to make foul shots.

Measuring Makes

Another way to measure a team's ability to get to the foul line is to include a team's ability to make foul shots, not just attempt them.

This calculation takes free throw makes and divides them by the total number of field goal attempts.

Using the same New Mexico example above, the Lobos made 582 free throws over 31 games in the 2016-2017 season.

Using this calculation, New Mexico's free throw rate was 34.4.

FTRate = 582 / 1693 = 0.3438 * 100

Important: This calculation (makes) is significantly lower than using attempts, 34.4 versus 46.1 in the New Mexico example.

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