The Whistle Blows: Big Ten Teams See Notable Increase in FTAs and Percentage

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on November 19th, 2013

It’s been impossible to avoid noticing the difference in foul calls so far this season. The new hand-check rules and officials intent on enforcing every foul has caused free throw attempts to shoot up and games to slow down. Across all of Division I basketball, free throw attempts are up a whopping 22.8 percent (about 4.5  more attempts per game). This amounts to about 24.3 attempts per game, the highest mark since 1971-72 when it was at 25.6 FTA per contest. This has caused some complaints among B1G coaches, most notably Purdue‘s Matt Painter, who called them “excessive” following his Boilermakers’ recent win. While the foul calls and free throws may slightly drop as officials adapt and study film, almost any contact for now causes a whistle to blow. With this in mind, it seemed like a good time to look at the Big Ten team’s free throw shooting so far this season compared to last season’s totals through roughly the same amount of games. You can look at the table below to get a good gauge of exactly what has and is happening with your favorite B1G team and the conference overall.

big ten ft diff

Some notable trends:

  • Overall, the B1G is shooting free throws at an even higher rate than the country with a 28.2 percent increase as it has attempted 232 more total free throws than at this point last season. This equates to more than 19 additional free throw attempts per team so far. Only Michigan State has shot fewer free throws at this same point, and Michigan and Minnesota are near where they were last year at this time. Every other team is up.
  • Could more trips to the line mean more comfort while there? Most teams at this point have experienced a positive change in free throw percentage, with Penn State, Indiana, Ohio State and Nebraska the four teams showing a decrease.

  • Wisconsin has seen the largest increase in free throw percentage so far thanks to the graduation of some less-than-stellar free throw shooters. The Badgers certainly have had these rule changes come at the right time for its personnel.
  • Indiana and Iowa still know how to get to the foul line a lot. Last season these two teams led the conference in attempts and are again already well ahead of everyone else. Iowa also is leading the conference in free throw percentage this year, so more trips and more conversions will certainly help the Hawkeyes push for a place among the Big Ten elite.
  • Nebraska has benefited the most from the foul increase in terms of attempts. The Cornhuskers have experienced a 55-attempt increase through three games. For a team that is slated for the bottom of the B1G, a trend like this continuing will certainly help them remain competitive against better teams.
  • Last season through this same point Purdue was last in the B1G in free throw percentage and second-t0-last for the whole season. Now, the Boilermakers once again are sitting in last for free throw percentage. It’s no wonder Painter doesn’t like the rule change — it’s not really benefiting his team in the least.
Jonathan Batuello (61 Posts)

Jonathan Batuello is a journalist working out of Indiana and Big Ten correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow his Twitter account (@jcbatuello) for Big Ten basketball, Indiana high school sports and how to cope with losing at fantasy football.


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