If you're not familiar with the Four Factors as featured on KenPom.com, the concept is very simple: There are four main parts of a basketball game that contribute to a team's success. They are:
- effective field goal percentage, or FG% with a bonus for made three pointers
- turnover rate, or the % of possessions that end in a turnover
- offensive rebound rate, or the % of possible offensive rebounds that the team grabbed
- and free throw rate, or the ratio of free throws attempted to field goals attempted expressed as a percentage
We'll look at the numbers for Marquette and their opponent in both categories for each game. The opponent number doubles as Marquette's defensive numbers, since it's what they're allowing. Along side each of the individual game numbers, you'll see two numbers after that labelled "Season." The first number is Marquette's either offensive or defensive totals for the year, the second is Marquette's national rankings in those statistics. Both season long numbers are provided by KenPom.com.
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)
Marquette: 51.7% (Season: 46.5%, #257)
George Washington: 36.7% (Season: 44.8%, #58)
You hit more than half of your threes in a game, you're going to be doing okay. Most of the three point damage was done in the first half when Marquette went 7-11 from the arc. As for the defensive side, MU was already pretty great at limiting made shots, so going eight percentage points lower than that is fantastic. To repeat a point I made during the Ohio State game, a team shooting with an eFG% below 40% is essentially a disaster for them.
Turnover Rate (TO%)
Marquette: 17.3% (Season: 16.9%, #99)
George Washington: 10.7% (Season: 19.2%, #127)
Barely a twitch over the season mark for MU, so that's not a problem at all. As long as Marquette is a top 100 team in these stats, it's hard to complain. That brings us to the defensive number, and that is just not good. MU was already not forcing turnovers at a great rate to start with, and letting GW get a shot off 90% of the time is not going to lead to good things a lot of the time. In this case, it may have been an issue of the scoreboard. George Washington committed five turnovers in the first half and only two in the second after MU already had a 20 point lead that never drifted back to single digits.
Offensive Rebound Rate (OR%)
Marquette: 44.1% (Season: 39.2%, #33)
George Washington: 32.6% (Season: 28.0%, #65)
If you're not going to be a good shooting team (and Marquette definitely is not one this season), then you'd better grab your misses and give yourself a chance to shoot 50% on every possession. Getting to 44% of your own misses is excellent, and even more impressive given how well Marquette shot the ball on this particular occasion. They didn't really need to get their misses, but it didn't stop their mentality of trying to get as many as possible. Marquette also continued their trend of being good at rebounding on both ends, which was not the case last year. Yeah, they let GW get to a higher percentage of misses than they've been doing this season, but when you're shooting well and getting to your own misses well, you can afford a little variance here.
Free Throw Rate (FTR)
Marquette: 34.5% (Season: 47.4%, #96)
George Washington: 43.3% (Season: 34.9%, #85)
The Four Factors are organized here in order of relevant importance to winning. Hitting shots, keeping the ball, getting extra chances to hit shots, getting a chance to earn free bonus points. The point is that when Marquette has a noticeable advantage in the other three Factors, it's hard to be disappointed or even bothered by George Washington winning the FTR battle. The slightly more disconcerting part is how far from the season averages that the two numbers were for this game, but it's one game, and Marquette won said lone game by a comfortable margin due to dominance in the other three Factors. So, for now, this is tolerable.