The 3-point line moved back to the FIBA international distance to 22 feet, 1.75 inches, up from 20 feet, nine inches.
What does that mean? Well, there may be more shooters than makers this season. And expect a number of players to step out of bounds on the corners. During the NIT last March, there were seven out of bounds calls in the corners.
But top shooting teams don’t just have to make 3s. They have to make shots facing the basket. And they have to do it when it matters most. This is my list of teams I would count on to do just that when the game is on the line.
1. Michigan State: If the game is on the line then Cassius Winston can deliver a make-or-break shot from the 3-point line on in. Aaron Henry, Gabe Brown, Rocket Watts and big man Xavier Tillman can all bury shots facing the basket. If Joshua Langford comes back at some point this season then the Spartans have another deep threat. This team is deep and will be hard to keep off the 3-point line.
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2. Seton Hall: Myles Powell and Myles Cale aren’t making 3s at a high 30-percent clip. But this isn’t just about the numbers. Powell and Cale aren’t afraid of the big shot. They have the range and are more than capable of delivering in the big moment from the perimeter. I would take Seton Hall’s perimeter shooting in a one-game situation over most teams.
3. Davidson: The Wildcats have a sharp shooter in Luke Frampton, who buried 100 3s last season. He’s got scorers with him in potential A-10 player of the year candidates Kellan Grady (58 3s made) and Jon Axel Gudmundsson (60 3s), who won player of the year last season. Davidson will be tough to keep off the 3-point line.
4. Louisville: Jordan Nwora is a career 38 percent 3-point shooter. Dwayne Sutton buries them at a 34 percent clip. But the player who can go off on a given night is Ryan McMahon. Chris Mack has a lethal dagger of a shooter to unleash when McMahon is on.
5. Creighton: The Bluejays will be in the hunt for an NCAA tournament berth because of their ability to make perimeter shots, especially 3s. Mitch Ballock and Ty-Shon Alexander made 95 and 97 3s, respectively, last. season. Shereef Mitchell and Davion Mintz can also bury shots.
6. Marquette: The Golden Eagles took a perimeter shooting hit when Sam Hauser (44.5 career 3-point shooter) and Joey Hauser (42.5) transferred. But they’ve got Markus Howard and no else does. Howard can pull up from anywhere and sometimes doesn’t even need to see the bucket. Howard made 120 3s and converted at a 40-percent clip. Howard alone keeps Marquette on this list.
7. Cincinnati: Jarron Cumberland can make nearly 40 percent of his 3s. But he’s got company in the family. His cousin, Jaevin Cumberland, transferred from Oakland. He buried 109 3s last season. If that keeps up then the Cumberlands could be instant offense for new coach John Brannen.
8. Colgate: The Raiders made 320 3s last season, an average of 9.1 a game. And all the top shooters — Jordan Burns, Rapolas Ivanauskas, Will Rayman, Tucker Richardson and Jack Ferguson are back to get buckets. Colgate should be the favorite in the Patriot League and a good choice for a possible first-round NCAA tournament win.
9. UTSA: The Roadrunners have one of the highest-scoring backcourts in the country in Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace. Better yet, Jackson and Wallace can bury 3s aplenty. The Roadrunners can drive and finish at the rim, but they also can make sure teams must defend the 3-point line.
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10. Notre Dame: The Irish can go with T.J. Gibbs, a healthy Rex Pflueger and big man John Mooney. Any of them on a given night can deliver from the perimeter. The Irish have consistently been an offensive player under Mike Brey. A healthy Notre Dame will be even tougher to defend facing the basket.
11. Furman: Jordan Lyons is a big-shot maker, converting 105 3s last season. If the game is late, Lyons is fully comfortable being in the position to bury the shot. But he’s not alone. Clay Mounce and Alex Hunter can both make the big shot and each made over 50 3s last season. If Furman can get out of the Southern Conference this season, they have the shooters to win a game.
12. Florida: The Gators have big-shot makers, more than statistical highs. Andrew Nembhard, Noah Locke and newcomer Scottie Lewis will be counted on to deliver big shots. Expect them to do so early and often en route to a possible Final Four berth.
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13. Arizona: The Wildcats will be one of the better shooting teams because of two newcomers — UC Irvine transfer guard Max Hazzard and freshman point guard Nico Mannion. Hazzard made 93 3s for the Anteaters last season, en route to a first-round upset win over Kansas State. Hazzard will have a much better lead guard next to him in Mannion to set him up along the 3-point line.
14. Arkansas: Eric Musselman will have the Razorbacks ready to be a perimeter threat from day one. Having Isaiah Joe back is a huge plus for the Hogs. Joe made 113 3s last season and Mason Jones can also bury the shot. Expect the Hogs to be tougher to defend on the perimeter as the season progresses.
15. Detroit: Antoine Davis averaged 26.1 points a game last season and made 132 3s. He’s a one-man wrecking crew from the perimeter. If the Titans need a bucket they go to Antoine Davis. His father, Mike Davis, has set up this offense to go through him. He can handle all of the responsibilities that come with the pressure to produce.