Four Factors: Marquette at Seton Hall

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Other than Jamil Wilson's opening flurry, the Golden Eagles didn't shoot the ball very well against the Pirates. So how did they win the game?

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: 48.0% (Season: 48.2%, #230)
Seton Hall: 64.4% (Season: 47.0%, #82)

It'd be nice to call Marquette's offensive output in this game "fine." Unfortunately, while it was right in line with their season long average, that average has them nearly into the bottom third in the country in eFG%. I don't think I need to explain why that's bad to you. Meanwhile, Seton Hall burned Marquette's usually stout defense repeatedly. Brian Oliver was the major offender, getting all five of his baskets in the game from behind the arc. Even when they were busy frittering away the game in the second half, the Pirates still shot 56.0% after intermission. However you want to explain Marquette's victory in this game, it definitely wasn't by forcing SHU to take bad shots.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 19.7% (Season: 18.0%, #140)
Seton Hall: 25.9% (Season: 19.6%, #101)

On the topic of explaining the victory, you can see a little bit of it here. Marquette was a little sloppier than normal in this game, but 1.7 percentage points aren't that much to get worked up about, especially when Fuquan Edwin, the Big East's leader in steals, is playing in the game. Heck, Edwin's only steal of the game came because Jamil Wilson lazily tried to toss the ball over Edwin's head. Take that one off the board and presume Marquette just misses a shot on that possession, and the rate changes to 18.1%.

Meanwhile, boy howdy, that's some defense by Marquette. Three different Pirates had at least three turnovers, with Patrik Auda anchoring their problems with five. Even though Marquette had to make a bit of a comeback in the second half, it was the first half that gave the Pirates the most fits, committing 10 of their 17 turnovers before intermission.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 42.9% (Season: 35.0%, #66)
Seton Hall: 13.0% (Season: 29.7%, #95)

A brief summary of how Seton Hall's possessions went: Every fourth possession, they turned the ball over. When they actually got a chance to shoot, it usually went in. When they missed, they almost never got a chance to shoot again. Marquette's pretty good at defensive rebounding, ranking in the top 100 for lowest opponent's offensive rebounding, and even in that case, MU's opponents still get to almost 30% of their own misses. Seton Hall didn't even manage half of that usual rate that MU usually allows. Meanwhile, the Pirates let a team that was struggling to shoot the ball well to get a second try at the rim more than two times out of five. Jamil Wilson did the most work for Marquette, grabbing four of his 10 total rebounds on the offensive end, and Chris Otule was no slouch as well, snaring three of MU's misses.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 69.4% (Season: 42.3%, #129)
Seton Hall: 31.1% (Season: 35.8%, #83)

Grab your misses and get to the line. That's how you overcome bad shooting. Get a second try at it and get as many chances at bonus points. It seems so simple, but as you can see from MU's season long ranking, they've struggled with the second part all season long. Part of this problem is likely due to Jake Thomas being absolutely zero threat to attack the basket, but you would figure that a team with Jamil Wilson, Davante Gardner, and Chris Otule would be better at drawing fouls. In any case, Seton Hall got foul crazy in this game. Both Gardner and Todd Mayo went to the line at least 10 times. Marquette did a good job of limiting SHU's attempts at the line, and MU was already pretty good at avoiding fouls. The one flaw in the armor on this night was their defense on Sterling Gibbs, as the sophomore guard got to the line 10 times.

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