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Four Factors: Marquette vs Creighton

Ok, let's dismantle the wreckage and see if we can find the black box to determine what caused this mess.

The Bluejays are using basketballs with their old logo on them.
The Bluejays are using basketballs with their old logo on them.
Eric Francis

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: 37.7% (Season: 48.9%, #191)
Creighton: 50.8% (Season: 45.0%, #49)

So, yeah. eFG% is the most important of the Four Factors, and this pretty much tells the story. A terrible shooting performance by an already bad shooting team combined with a sub-par defensive performance from a great defensive team. As I pointed out right after the game on Tuesday night, this was only sub-par in terms of how Marquette has played defense this season. Creighton's eFG% for the season before the game was 59.2%, and even now, after only shooting just under 51%, it's still 58.5%. So, that's something positive, I guess. The biggest offenders for Creighton were Ethan Wragge and Jahenns Mangiat, both of whom had an eFG% of 66.7% on the night. Wragge is unsurprising, as he's the best shooter on the team and only shot three pointers all night. Of course, the question you have to ask there is why Wragge was allowed to shoot nine times.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 23.8% (Season: 18.1%, #151)
Creighton: 20.3% (Season: 19.8%, #86)

The first four turnovers of the game were also Marquette's first four fouls of the game, as MU was whistled for four offensive fouls in the first 9:10 of the game. You could argue that the other 11 turnovers don't even matter, because by that point, Marquette was down 21-9. It's a waste of a good defensive effort, as Creighton is usually very reliable at holding on to the ball (54th in the country), and that was not the case here.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 32.4% (Season: 36.9%, #53)
Creighton: 35.1% (Season: 29.3%, #81)

This is Marquette's strength, and they allowed Creighton to take it away from them. They got to fewer of their own misses, and allowed Creighton to get to way too many of their own misses. It ended up not directly hurting them on the scoreboard (MU won the second chance points battle 8-7), but when you allow a team that's already got a big lead on you to burn through time on the clock by extending their possession, you're just digging your hole even deeper.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 30.2% (Season: 42.4%, #137)
Creighton: 6.5% (Season: 33.6%, #63)

Hey, look, Marquette didn't foul a jump shooting team! Not surprising for a team like MU that's already very good at not fouling, not to mention that Creighton's terrible at drawing fouls due to said jump shooting. What is surprising is that Marquette didn't find a way to draw fouls inside, as they have to score in close to the basket to be able to win. Then again, Creighton's pretty good at not fouling themselves (36th in the country), so I guess something had to give here.