Sports Reference Blog

College Basketball Leaderboards Extended Back to 1985-86

Posted by Mike Lynch on March 20, 2017

Thanks to the addition of nearly 50 seasons of historical player statistics, we have extended our statistical leaderboards for several categories through the beginning of the shot-clock era (1985-86). These categories include games, field goals, field goal attempts, free throws, free throw attempts, total rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and points (as well as their "per game" versions). Additionally, we have extended all 3-point shooting leaderboards back through 1986-87, which was the season the NCAA adopted the shot.

While we have most player statistics covered all the way back to 1947-48, the portion missing pre-1985 is substantial enough that we weren't comfortable adding it to the leaderboards just yet. If we're able to make the older data more complete, we're certainly open to expanding the leaderboards, though.

1985-86 makes for an excellent starting point for our leaderboards for several reasons, though. First, this was the season in which the NCAA adopted a shot clock (45 seconds at the time), making it a decent proxy for the beginning of a more "modern" era of the game (though as noted earlier, the 3-pt shot did not come into play until 1986-87). 1985-86 is also the first season for which the NCAA recognized blocks and steals as official statistics for leaderboard purposes. So, while many players have blocks and steals totals for older seasons, they were not officially recognized as national leaders or statistical champions.

Links to these expanded leaderboards pages are also available on player pages for season back to the 1985-86. For instance, the player page for Lionel Simmons now has a section linking to dozens of season and career leaderboard appearances for him. You'll notice that among those leaderboards are conference leaderboards. That is because, in addition to the NCAA leaderboards, we have also extended our conference leaderboards back to 1985-86. Our full table of conference is available here.

We mentioned earlier that we didn't extend these leaderboards back any further than 1985-86 due to the constraints of our data. The data from 1985-86 through 1991-92 is not 100% complete, though. We just feel that it's complete enough to still make for a worthwhile addition. For the sake of transparency, I'm including some charts below which will show the percentage of players we're missing statistical categories for for each season from 1985-86 through 1991-92. You'll notice the missing data is generally under ~10% of players in a given season. Furthermore, these missing players are by and large end of the bench players with negligible stat totals, anyways. I'll also note that the 3-point attempts, unlike the other stats, are missing large chunks of players, but we wanted to extend those leaderboards back to the beginning of the shot, regardless. The guys we're currently missing 3-point attempt stats for are mostly players who did not utilize the shot.

Games

year_id | count_missing | count_all | pct  |

+---------+---------------+-----------+------+

|    1986 |           137 |      3604 | 3.8% |

|    1987 |           199 |      3719 | 5.4% |

|    1988 |           236 |      3901 | 6.0% |

|    1989 |           160 |      3793 | 4.2% |

|    1990 |           120 |      3784 | 3.2% |

|    1991 |           144 |      3871 | 3.7% |

|    1992 |           159 |      3949 | 4.0% |

FG

+---------+---------------+-----------+------+

| year_id | count_missing | count_all | pct  |

+---------+---------------+-----------+------+

|    1986 |           232 |      3604 | 6.4% |

|    1987 |           285 |      3719 | 7.7% |

|    1988 |           278 |      3901 | 7.1% |

|    1989 |           261 |      3793 | 6.9% |

|    1990 |           216 |      3784 | 5.7% |

|    1991 |           231 |      3871 | 6.0% |

|    1992 |           250 |      3949 | 6.3% |

FGA

+---------+---------------+-----------+------+

| year_id | count_missing | count_all | pct  |

+---------+---------------+-----------+------+

|    1986 |           132 |      3604 | 3.7% |

|    1987 |           193 |      3719 | 5.2% |

|    1988 |           227 |      3901 | 5.8% |

|    1989 |           143 |      3793 | 3.8% |

|    1990 |           106 |      3784 | 2.8% |

|    1991 |           130 |      3871 | 3.4% |

|    1992 |           152 |      3949 | 3.8% |

3-Pt FG

| year_id | count_missing | count_all | pct   |

+---------+---------------+-----------+-------+

|    1987 |           454 |      3718 | 12.2% |

|    1988 |           352 |      3900 | 9.0%  |

|    1989 |           387 |      3791 | 10.2% |

|    1990 |           350 |      3782 | 9.3%  |

|    1991 |           345 |      3870 | 8.9%  |

|    1992 |           370 |      3949 | 9.4%  |

3-Pt FGA

+---------+---------------+-----------+-------+

| year_id | count_missing | count_all | pct   |

+---------+---------------+-----------+-------+

|    1987 |          1447 |      3719 | 38.9% |

|    1988 |           712 |      3901 | 18.3% |

|    1989 |          1280 |      3793 | 33.7% |

|    1990 |          1158 |      3784 | 30.6% |

|    1991 |          1056 |      3871 | 27.3% |

|    1992 |          1120 |      3949 | 28.4% |

FT

+---------+---------------+-----------+-------+

| year_id | count_missing | count_all | pct   |

+---------+---------------+-----------+-------+

|    1986 |           307 |      3604 | 8.5%  |

|    1987 |           390 |      3719 | 10.5% |

|    1988 |           320 |      3901 | 8.2%  |

|    1989 |           330 |      3793 | 8.7%  |

|    1990 |           320 |      3784 | 8.5%  |

|    1991 |           335 |      3871 | 8.7%  |

|    1992 |           368 |      3949 | 9.3%  |

FTA

+---------+---------------+-----------+------+

| year_id | count_missing | count_all | pct  |

+---------+---------------+-----------+------+

|    1986 |           234 |      3604 | 6.5% |

|    1987 |           291 |      3719 | 7.8% |

|    1988 |           284 |      3901 | 7.3% |

|    1989 |           252 |      3793 | 6.6% |

|    1990 |           238 |      3784 | 6.3% |

|    1991 |           276 |      3871 | 7.1% |

|    1992 |           307 |      3949 | 7.8% |

Total Rebounds

+---------+---------------+-----------+------+

| year_id | count_missing | count_all | pct  |

+---------+---------------+-----------+------+

|    1986 |           195 |      3604 | 5.4% |

|    1987 |           249 |      3719 | 6.7% |

|    1988 |           257 |      3901 | 6.6% |

|    1989 |           214 |      3793 | 5.6% |

|    1990 |           161 |      3784 | 4.3% |

|    1991 |           192 |      3871 | 5.0% |

|    1992 |           211 |      3949 | 5.3% |

Assists

+---------+---------------+-----------+-------+

| year_id | count_missing | count_all | pct   |

+---------+---------------+-----------+-------+

|    1986 |           437 |      3604 | 12.1% |

|    1987 |           499 |      3719 | 13.4% |

|    1988 |           364 |      3901 | 9.3%  |

|    1989 |           393 |      3793 | 10.4% |

|    1990 |           354 |      3784 | 9.4%  |

|    1991 |           385 |      3871 | 9.9%  |

|    1992 |           402 |      3949 | 10.2% |

Steals

+---------+---------------+-----------+-------+

| year_id | count_missing | count_all | pct   |

+---------+---------------+-----------+-------+

|    1986 |           483 |      3604 | 13.4% |

|    1987 |           563 |      3719 | 15.1% |

|    1988 |           423 |      3901 | 10.8% |

|    1989 |           513 |      3793 | 13.5% |

|    1990 |           489 |      3784 | 12.9% |

|    1991 |           484 |      3871 | 12.5% |

|    1992 |           521 |      3949 | 13.2% |

Blocks

+---------+---------------+-----------+-------+

| year_id | count_missing | count_all | pct   |

+---------+---------------+-----------+-------+

|    1986 |          1004 |      3604 | 27.9% |

|    1987 |          1086 |      3719 | 29.2% |

|    1988 |           599 |      3901 | 15.4% |

|    1989 |          1117 |      3793 | 29.4% |

|    1990 |          1039 |      3784 | 27.5% |

|    1991 |          1049 |      3871 | 27.1% |

|    1992 |          1072 |      3949 | 27.1% |

Points

+---------+---------------+-----------+------+

| year_id | count_missing | count_all | pct  |

+---------+---------------+-----------+------+

|    1986 |           183 |      3604 | 5.1% |

|    1987 |           243 |      3719 | 6.5% |

|    1988 |           260 |      3901 | 6.7% |

|    1989 |           212 |      3793 | 5.6% |

|    1990 |           174 |      3784 | 4.6% |

|    1991 |           178 |      3871 | 4.6% |

|    1992 |           212 |      3949 | 5.4% |

2 Responses to “College Basketball Leaderboards Extended Back to 1985-86”

  1. Nick Springstein Says:

    The first year for the 64 team format was actually 1984-85.

  2. Mike Lynch Says:

    Good catch

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