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The Four Factors: Marquette vs San Diego State

Rubie says the referees cost Marquette the game. Do the Four Factors disagree with him?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

If you're not familiar with the Four Factors as featured on, 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

Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)

Marquette: 43.0% (Season: 46.1%, #269)
San Diego State: 44.6% (Season: 44.8%, #56)

DANGER, WILL ROBINSON, DANGER! The bad shooting Marquette team that we saw before the trip out west returned against San Diego State. 1 for 10 behind the three point arc isn't going to cut it against any team in the country, much less a talented team like the Aztecs. It was the same strong defense from Marquette that we've seen all year, but yet another power outage. Did Davante Gardner being limited to five shots in 23 minutes due to illness have something to do with this? Maybe. It might have led to Jamil Wilson feeling that he needed to make things happen, which is how he shot 4-6 inside the arc and 0-4 behind it.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 23.3% (Season: 17.6%, #141)
San Diego State: 20.0% (Season: 19.3%, #122)

Yet another significant problem. When you're coughing the ball up every fourth or fifth possession, it starts to get hard to get any kind of rhythm going. If you're combining an increased TO% with not being very good at holding on to the ball to start with, you're starting to put pressure on each possession going forward. For example, a normally stalwart point guard like Derrick Wilson could turn the ball over four times, more than he had in the previous three games combined, and start to feel a need to try to score more, leading to him shooting 4-10, including a missed three pointer, where he's now shooting 1-14 (7.1%) for his career.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 37.1% (Season: 38.9%, #29)
San Diego State: 40.5% (Season: 29.5%, #107)

MU is a great offensive rebounding team, so not quite hitting the season mark isn't that big of a deal. It's going to happen, that's why it's called an average. But when you do your usual excellent job of forcing your opponent to miss shots like Marquette did, you can't let them get to their misses. Marquette has been good at preventing second chances, but that fell apart in this game. Fatigue with three games in four days? Maybe. But six different Aztecs had at least 2 offensive rebounds, including all five starters, so it might have been solid scouting by Steve Fisher and his staff.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 52.0% (Season: 47.9%, #79)
San Diego State: 41.1% (Season: 35.7%, #96)

After several games of regressing to the mean after starting the season against Southern with a FTR of 147%, Marquette got to the line against SDSU better than they have on average this season. The downside is that they only shot 62% (16-26) from the line, so any advantage gained by drawing fouls was quite literally thrown away. Chris Otule had the worst night, going 2-5 from the line, but he's not a good FT shooter anyway. I don't know if you can really harp on Jamil and Derrick both splitting a pair. We're going to have to keep an eye on Gardner, who split four free throws in this one. While that might have been illness affected, he is only shooting 66% on the season, after shooting 84% a year ago.