On the list of things a team can control in a basketball game, an opponent's free throw shooting percentage is way on down around the bottom, for obvious reasons. Nobody on the floor is allowed to defend free throws, though there's always Fourth Row Mike, who is for the 16th time this year sweating profanity, and hey, maybe Fourth Row Mike really does make a difference. Probably not, but maybe. God bless you, Fourth Row Mike.
There shouldn't be much year-to-year consistency in opponents' free throw percentage, and often there isn't ... unless we're talking about NC State, of course. For whatever reason (I'm kidding--there is no reason), State has over the last half decade seen its opponents sink a ridiculous percentage of free throw attempts. Last season was another typical installment--State's opponents hit 71.2% of their free throws, a figure that placed State's FT defense 253rd nationally. So 252 teams had the luxury of watching their opponents clank more freebies than State in 2014.
Since 2009, no ACC team has had a shittier free throw defense than State, which had one fortunate year in this particular regard, only to have that year thrown into a river with a brick tied to its ankle. Below is a year-by-year look at each ACC school's national rank in free throw defense since 2009, sorted by average rank.
When I looked at this last year, NC State was well ... um ... ahead, with Boston College second. NC State is still well ahead, but much respect is due Steve Donahue, who went all-out in his final season in an effort to catch the Wolfpack. BC's opponents hit 72.9% from the free throw line in 2014, placing the Eagles' FT defense 318th nationally. Damn fine effort, but not nearly enough to catch NC State, or Notre Dame, which is now officially in the mix.
The Irish have had a heckuva run themselves, and leave it to those guys to make a splash in their first year as members of the ACC. Man, 348th in FTD is no bullshit. I heard Mike Brey hired a guy to walk parallel to him while holding a ladder at an angle such that Brey was walking beneath a ladder at all times. For the vast majority of programs, that's the type of work you gotta put in if you want to reach 348.
We've nearly hit that number and we haven't even been trying. This is why I scoff when anyone suggests State isn't a great job. If we're talking about bad luck, NC State recruits itself.