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Will Jordan Bohannon Tie or Break the Big Ten 3-Point FG's Made Record?

Will Jordan Bohannon Tie or Break the Big Ten 3-Point FG's Made Record?

3/5/2021 - In a blowout win against Nebraska last night, Jordan Bohannon made eight 3-pointers and scored 26 points. I remembered that he had a chance to be the all-time 3-point shooter (based on number of 3's made) in the Big Ten.

He now has 352, and is currently in 2nd place behind Ohio State's Jon Diebler, who had 374 three point FG's made.

What is the chance that he will tie or break this record? Well, it depends on how many games Iowa plays.

In my day job, a teach statistics and help companies analyze their data to look for ways to improve. This question intrigued me, so I thought I could combine my love of data and the Hawks to try and answer this question.

To run a simulation on future outcomes, we need to develop a statistical model of his past performance at Iowa, to see how many 3-pointers he typically makes in a game.

A great resource for data is, that has the list of all of Jordan's past games starting in 2016.

I looked at the number of 3-pointers made in each game by season.

Due to injuries, some years he played more games than others. In each season, the median number of 3-pointers made changes slightly. Median is better than mean (average) since the data is heavily weighted to the low end, and can skew to the high end.

The median number of 3-pointers per game was 2 during the following three seasons (shown in blue in the graph): 2016-17, 2018-19 and 2020-21. In 2017-18, he had a median of 3 made per game, and in 2019-20 he had a median of 1.5 per game.

I thought about modeling his 3-pointers across his entire career, but since we have 26 game this season, it's a good sample to use for the model. Therefore, I'm making predictions for 2020-21 only. I also think that makes sense since the players are different each year, and the offensive and defensive strategy will be different. The only difficulty is that some of these games will be played against Big Ten opponents, and some will be against nonconference opponents in the NCAA tournament. I didn't attempt to separate out those games.

Based on his current performance this season, I can model his 3-point shooting against a 3-parameter Weibull distribution with the following parameters: Shape = 1.392, Scale = 3.173, and Threshold = -0.2788.

These statistics are not important, but it does fit very closely. We will assume this distribution for our simulation.

Next, I had my statistical software (Minitab) randomly generate 1000 simulation games from this distribution pattern.

As you can see, even though he has not made more than eight 3-pointers in a game, the simulation shows that he could make up to 13 in a game (although highly unlikely, 3 chances in 1000 games). That's why a distribution is helpful to use instead of straight calculations of what he has actually achieved in a game.

Next, I determined how many games are remaining. I determined that Iowa could possibly play between 3 and 11 more games, depending on seeding in the Big Ten tournament and how many games they win. There is one regular season game remaining against Wisconsin (could possibly be canceled due to COVID, but I assumed it would happen). If Iowa gets a top 4 seed, then it will get a bye. It could play 1-3 games in the Big Ten tournament. If they don't get a bye, they could play 1-4 games. In the NCAA tournament, they could play up to six games if they get to the championship game.

I started with the minimum 3 games to see how likely he would get at least 22 threes. He would have to average about 8 threes a game (but currently is averaging only 2 per game), so that seems unlikely, and the probability reflects this.

With 1000 simulated results, I took every 3 games and added up how many threes he made. For example, the simulation said that the first scenario would be that he would get 9 threes, then only 1, then 3, for a total of 13. Then I moved down to the next line and the scenario was 1, 3, and 1, for a total of 5. With 1000 simulated records and 3 games, I could generate 998 scenarios of 3 games. I calculated how many 3 game scenarios had totals of at least 22 threes. As expected, of the 998 scenarios, only twice would he get at least 22 threes. One scenario he would hit 8, 4 and 10 threes, and the other scenario was hitting 7, 5 and then 10 threes. Again, very unlikely. Therefore, his chance of tying or beating the record is only 0.2% if Iowa only plays three more games.

I ran the same analysis with 4 games, and that generated 997 scenarios, and 16 times he achieved at least 22 threes. The success rate went up to 1.6%, but that's still very unlikely.

I continued this analysis for a maximum of 11 games, and here are the summary results.

Unfortunately, it will take at least 9 games before the probability goes over 50%. He has a really good chance if they play 11 games (82.5%) but that means the Hawks would need to be in the NCAA championship game!

The next question is how many games will Iowa actually play? This is also a probability question, but I'm not sure how best to predict that. Maybe someone has some insights on that. If we use seeds and assume no upsets, then here is my best guess. I'm going to predict that Iowa beats Wisconsin, gets a Top 4 seed in the Big Ten tournament (automatic bye), and loses in the semifinals to a higher seeded team. That would be 1 regular season game and 2 conference tournament games. In the NCAA tournament, I'll assume we get a #2 seed, and make it to the Elite Eight but lose to a #1 seed. That would be 4 more games, and a total of 7 more games.

Based on the chart above, he has about a 25% chance of at least tying the record, which isn't as good as I was hoping. This also assumes he performs similar to what he's done this season, and doesn't change up his approach (which would create a different prediction model).

Although individual records should be secondary to team success, they are a reflection of the success he has had at Iowa. Good luck, Jordan!

For the remainder of the season, I'll update this article with the actual results.

Update 3/7/21: After the Wisconsin victory on 3/7/21, Iowa received a first round bye in the Big Ten tournament, but I assumed they would when I had estimated 7 remaining games. With 3 threes in that game, his chances went up only slightly to 28%. I'm assuming they play at least 2 more games in the Big Ten tournament, and at least 4 games in the NCAA tournament.

Update 3/12/21: After another Wisconsin victory on 3/12/21, Iowa advanced to the semifinal round in the Big Ten tournament. Jordan had 1 three tonight, but his chances dropped to 17% assuming they play 5 more games (only one more game in the Big Ten tournament, and play 4 games in the NCAA tournament).

Update 3/13/21: After losing to Illinois today, Iowa missed out on one more game for Jordan. He had 5 threes tonight, so his chances jumped from 17% to 27% assuming they play 4 more games in the NCAA tournament (get to the Elite Eight).

Update 3/20/21: Iowa defeated Grand Canyon today. Jordan added 3 threes tonight. He is now 10 away from the record. If we assume Iowa has 3 more games, then he has a similar 28% chance of tying the record.

Update 3/22/21: Iowa lost to Oregon in the 2nd Round, and Jordan didn't have any threes. He ends his career 10 short of the record, but the all-time Iowa 3-point leader and assist leader, and 9th in career scoring. Thank you for all the great memories, Jordan!

Update 4/27/21: In a surprise turn of events, Jordan has decided to return for one more year at Iowa! With an expected 30 game schedule, he will almost certainly break the record. My analysis didn't go beyond 12 games, but the probability exceeds 99% that he will tie the record within the first 10 games.

Update 11/18/21: Jordan surpassed the 3-point record on 11/18/21 against Alabama State. Some might argue he played more seasons, so that's why he broke the record. But remember Jordan was injured for part of two seasons. Let's look deeper, comparing their stats through the Alabama State when Jordan broke the record.

Name Games Played Minutes Played 3's Made 3's Att 3-pt % 3-pt per game 3-pt per min
Jordan Bohannon 147 4383 378 939 40.2% 2.57 0.086
Jon Diebler 144 4688 374 900 41.6% 2.60 0.080

In conclusion, Jordan was more efficient in making 3's based on number of minutes played, but Jon was a higher % shooter and scored slightly more 3's per game played. I think their numbers are so similar that it is a legitimate record. He only played in 3 more games and played in 305 fewer minutes.

As a side note, I think there should be more emphasis on efficiency numbers for sports records instead of total numbers. I want to know who the person is with the highest net punting average in football (assuming a minimum number), not the person with the most total punts or total yardage. Same with 3-point shooting, recognize the highest shooting % in a season, not just the total number made. Many of those records are a measure of who can stay healthy over the long term, not necessarily who was the best when they were playing. I don't want to get rid of these total amount records, but instead make % records more prominent. Also, over time the number of games played increases, so older records based on totals gets broken due to more games (i.e. Kirk Ferentz coaches more games per season than Hayden Fry, thus more opportunity to win more games).

Update 3/10/22: After the win vs Northwestern today, Jordan has now made 445 3-pointers in his career, and is now within striking distance of the national record for Power 5 teams of 3-pointers held by J.J. Reddick (457). He needs 12 to tie, and 13 to break. Here are my updated calculations of his chances.

Iowa has at least 2 games left, and likely 4 of 5 games. I think they'll have 4 more games, so that puts his chances at around 24% to tie the record.

Update 3/17/22: The Hawks ended the season in the 1st Round with a loss to Richmond, and Jordan made 2 3-pointers in the game, but fell two short of tying the record set by J.J. Reddick. Congratulations to Jordan on an amazing career!





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