NCAA Basketball

NCAA Tournament 2014: Ranking the 10 Best Three-Point Shooting Teams

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10 Best Three-Point Shooting Teams in NCAA Tournament

Eric Hartline - USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Tournament is quickly approaching and teams are making their final push to be one of the final 68 teams in the running for a National Championship in March. When the Big Dance gets started, teams will be leaning on their strengths to try and carry them through and make a deep run. For one lucky team, that run will end with confetti and cutting down the nets as the undisputed No. 1 team in all of college basketball.

For some teams that may not have the interior presence to dominate the low post, that road to the top starts outside the three point line. Smaller teams can hang with and even knock off bigger programs in the tournament if they can get hot from range as the three-point shot acts as a great equalizer for teams that can’t hang in close. If a team gets hot at the right time, it can take them from a first weekend exit to a Final Four appearance in the blink of an eye.

Some teams have been using the three all season long to put themselves in position to make the tournament and start their run. They’ve got the sharp-shooters that can dial it up from way back and knock down huge shots to turn the tide of a game. When they’re on, many of them can’t seem to miss and they spark their clubs to huge wins. If they can do it in the Big Dance, they’ll lead their teams to something bigger than just a plain-old win.

So which teams are best equipped to get hot from beyond the arc? Here are the 10 best three-point shooting teams likely to make the field for the 2014 NCAA Tournament. To make the list, a team either has to be a strong candidate for an at-large bid or in first place in their conference with an inside track to the automatic bid.

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10. Stanford Cardinal

anthony brown
Ed Szczepanski - USA TODAY Sports

Three-Point FG Percentage: 38.8

Best Shooter: Anthony Brown

Brown’s ability to shoot the three has the Stanford Cardinal in the mix for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. He’s averaging 13.3 points per game on the season and connecting on 49.4 percent of his shots from three-point range. He has the ability to take over a game as he did in Stanford’s most recent win over the Washington State Cougars where Brown went off for 30 points and hit 4-of-6 from distance. Can he do the same for the Cardinal in the NCAA Tournament?

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9. Vermont Catamounts

sandro carissimo
David Butler II - USA TODAY Sports

Three-Point FG Percentage: 39.2

Best Shooter: Sandro Carissimo

Carissimo is second on the team in scoring this season, averaging 12.4 points per game, and his ability to shoot the three has the Vermont Catamounts in first place in the America East Conference. He’s shooting 44.2 percent from beyond the arc as the 6-foot-2 senior guard paces the Vermont offense from deep. He’s the outside presence in the team’s inside-outside combination and will be key for Vermont if they hope to qualify for and then pull off an upset in the NCAA Tournament.

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8. Michigan Wolverines

nik stauskas
Mike Carter - USA TODAY Sports

Three-Point FG Percentage: 39.3

Best Shooter: Nik Stauskas

Stauskas leads the Michigan Wolverines in scoring thanks to his hot hand from long distance this season. He’s putting in 16.7 points per game on the year and connecting on 44 percent of his three-point attempts. The 6-foot-6 sophomore guard provides energy to the Wolverine offense with his ability to pull up and shoot from distance and that shooting ability will be what determines just how far Michigan goes in the Big Dance.

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7. Connecticut Huskies

deandre daniels
David Butler II - USA TODAY Sports

Three-Point FG Percentage: 40.2

Best Shooter: DeAndre Daniels

The Connecticut Huskies look to once again make a run in the NCAA Tournament thanks in part to the shooting of Daniels. He is second on the team in scoring to Shabazz Napier (who is also pretty good from range), averaging 13.2 points per game and connecting on 45.8 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. The 6-foot-9 junior has really improved his game from range after shooting just 30.9 and 24 percent from range the last two seasons. His improved long-range game could help UConn make a run this March.

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6. Gonzaga Bulldogs

gary bell jr
Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY Sports

Three-Point FG Percentage: 40.4

Best Shooter: Gary Bell, Jr.

Kevin Pangos handles the bulk of the three-point attempts for the Gonzaga Bulldogs but Bell is the team’s more efficient long-range threat. Despite missing six games with an injury, Bell is averaging 11.5 points per game and connecting on 44.3 percent of his long-range attempts. He was even better before the injury, connecting on 47.6 percent of his three-point attempts, so if he can get dialed in and healthy for the tournament, the Zags could be dangerous.

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5. UCLA Bruins

kyle anderson
Gary A. Vasquez - USA TODAY Sports

Three-Point FG Percentage: 40.5

Best Shooter: Kyle Anderson

As the second leading scorer on the UCLA Bruins, Anderson has picked his spots to shoot from distance, attempting only 42 three-point shots on the season, but he’s picked them well connecting on 52.4 percent of them. The 6-foot-9 sophomore’s ability to go inside or outside provides a matchup issue for teams that the Bruins may face in the tournament and could be the difference in how deep UCLA goes in the tournament.

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4. Iona Gaels

isaiah williams
John Rieger - USA TODAY Sports

Three-Point FG Percentage: 40.6

Best Shooter: Isaiah Williams

Williams has helped shoot the Iona Gaels to first place in the MAAC, averaging 10.6 points per game and connecting on 42.5 percent of his three-point attempts. He may only average 10.6 points per game but his ability to hit from range makes him a constant threat to break open a game. That ability to shoot from deep will be key to punching Iona’s ticket to the Big Dance and making them a dangerous underdog once they get there.

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3. Robert Morris Colonials

karvel anderson
Getty Images

Three-Point FG Percentage: 40.7

Best Shooter: Karvel Anderson

Anderson is the unquestioned offensive leader for the Robert Morris Colonials as they have raced out to first place in the Northeast Conference this season. He leads the team with 18.8 points per game and is connecting on 47 percent of his attempts beyond the arc. If Robert Morris earns the automatic bid for their conference and hopes to shock the world with a win in the tournament, Anderson will be the guy to take them there.

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2. Duke Blue Devils

tyler thornton
Daniel Shirey - USA TODAY Sports

Three-Point FG Percentage: 41.6

Best Shooter: Tyler Thornton

Thornton isn’t a huge part of the offense, averaging just 3.3 points per game and 20 minutes a night, but his effectiveness from range makes him an X-factor for the Duke Blue Devils come tournament time. He is shooting 50 percent from three-point range, though the sample size is a bit small (just 44 attempts). He’s a bit of a wild-card for Duke as they ramp up for the tournament and could get hot and carry the Blue Devils on a deep run this March.

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1. Creighton Bluejays

ethan wragge
Eric Hartline - USA TODAY Sports

Three-Point FG Percentage: 42.2

Best Shooter: Ethan Wragge

While Wragge is not the most prolific scorer on the Creighton Bluejays (that would be Doug McDermott and his 25.9 ppg), the senior forward is a three-point specialist that knows when to pick his spots. 83 of Wragge’s 85 field goals made this season have been from three-point range and he’s connecting on 48.3 percent of his attempts this season.