Hall of Fame basketball coach Bob Knight always preached the importance of making more free throws than the opposing team attempted.

Indiana’s motion offense, which emphasized movement and spacing, sometimes accomplished Knight’s goal and led the Hoosiers to three national championships over a 12-year span (’76, ’81 and ’87).

Knight’s 902 career victories in Division I competition ranks second all-time to Mike Krzyzewski, a former point guard at Army in the late 1960’s when Knight was a young coach at West Point.

With Knight’s offensive strategies in mind, let’s take a look at a few free-throw statistics involving the 344 Division I teams.

No team in the country has attempted more free throws than its opponents at a greater rate than the Long Island Blackbirds (19-7, 13-1 in the Northeast Conference).

LIU Brooklyn has attempted 733 free throws while yielding only 400 free-throw attempts to its opponents.

Gonzaga (20-4, 10-2 in the West Coast Conference) and Long Beach State (19-6, 12-0 in the Big West) rank second and third in the country in free-throw differential.

The Bulldogs have attempted 256 more free throws (614-358) than its opponents while the 49ers have earned 244 more free-throw attempts (621-377) than its competition.

At the other end of the spectrum, Cleveland State has allowed its opponents 236 more free-throw opportunities (373-609) than the Vikings have earned.

The Vikings (20-7, 10-5 in the Horizon League) have overcome their deficiencies at the charity stripe by overwhelming their opponents in three other areas: 3-point shooting (179 makes vs. 122), free-throw percentage (72.8 vs. 65.5) and steals (239 vs. 191).

ALL BETS ARE OFF…..Three weeks ago, I was sizing up St. Mary’s as a strong play over Murray State in the 10th Annual BracketBusters event.

Not anymore.

The Gaels are a mess after a puzzling 75-60 loss as a 14-point home favorite to Loyola Marymount.

LMU is 7-1 in eight conference road games, but the double-digit loss at the friendly confines of McKeon Pavilion in Moraga is a troubling sign for St. Mary’s.

FINAL FOOTBALL NOTE……Professional sports bettor Mike Greene made the winning point in his Super Bowl XLVI analysis when he labeled New England’s offense as a horizontal attack, not a vertical one.

“The Patriots attack east and west, not north and south,” explained Greene.

In New England’s 21-17 loss to the New York Giants, quarterback Tom Brady finished the game 0-for-5 on passes of 20 yards or more.

THURSDAY’S BEST BET……Play 735 OREGON STATE +4.5 over Stanford.

The Beavers have “a score to settle” with the Cardinal, according to Jared Cunningham, OSU’s best player and the Pac-12’s leading scorer (18.8 ppg).

On January 7, Stanford’s players celebrated on the court at Gill Coliseum following a 103-101 quadruple-overtime victory over the Beavers.

Stanford has played in poor form over the past month, recording only a pair of victories over Pac-12 bottom-feeders Arizona State and USC.

COMING FRIDAY…..A preview of the Week 6 match-up (Mark Simons vs. WeinketoWarrick) in The SportsOptions Showdown.

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