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Four Factors: Marquette at Butler

Get ready to see nothing that will make you happy. Well, maybe one thing.

Nice face, Barlow.
Nice face, Barlow.
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

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: 33.8% (Season: 48.6%, #205)
Butler: 46.6% (Season: 46.1%, #67)

And thus ends the streak of games where the offense has an eFG% over 50%. It was fun while it lasted. The cause of the problem here was the second half output from the Golden Eagles as they shot 5-27 including missing all 10 three point tries. Here's the really insane part: SIX of those three point misses came AFTER Butler had tied the game up with six minutes to play, including the very next three shots Marquette attempted. Miraculously, Butler didn't immediately jump out to a massive lead. On the upside, the defense was exactly where it has been all season, so that's exciting. I guess.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 21.0% (Season: 18.3%, #154)
Butler: 14.9% (Season: 19.3%, #121)

Let's get this out of the way right here: Marquette's turnover rate is slightly higher than it actually should be. Jake Thomas and Jamil Wilson were charged with turnovers for their flagrant and technical fouls in the final minute of overtime when Marquette was already down seven and 11 points respectively. If you wipe out those two boneheaded decisions, MU's TO% for the game drops to 18.4%, which is right where they've been all season. Unfortunately, that's not helpful here, as the game was already long since decided when Thomas and Wilson went into vapor lock. That's not surprising as 1) Marquette's kind of lousy at keeping track of the ball in the first place and 2) they were really lousy at taking the ball away from Butler to create some extra possessions for themselves.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 30.2% (Season: 34.9%, #79)
Butler: 22.0% (Season: 29.2%, #78)

Lousy shooting has to be countered with excellent offensive rebounding. Marquette didn't get that here. They weren't without their bright spots, as Derrick Wilson grabbed three misses and Davante Gardner grabbed four. Had MU's shooting been on their usual pace, even those seven grabs might have been enough to get past the Bulldogs. More made shots = less misses = fewer chances for offensive rebounds = better rate. The lone bright spot of the game is that Marquette did an excellent job limiting Butler's opportunities to extend their possessions, and that was already one of Marquette's strengths. Only one Butler player, Kameron Woods, was able to grab more than one offensive rebound.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 26.2% (Season: 41.7%, #152)
Butler: 50.0% (Season: 35.1%, #73)

Crap. Complete crap. With Marquette carrying a significant size advantage into this game, it should have been rudimentary basketball to get the ball to their two post scorers and let them go to town until Butler's big men fouled out of the game. That didn't happen, and Marquette's free throw rate for the game ended up being pathetic. Also not helping was taking ridiculous three pointers in the second half. Creighton doesn't shoot a lot of free throws because they are a jump shooting team and you don't foul a jump shooter. You REALLY don't foul a jump shooter that's missing everything in sight.

Fun Fact: Butler shot more than half of their free throws in the five minutes of overtime. Six free throws in the first half, eight free throws in the second half, FIFTEEN FREE THROWS in overtime. 10 of them came in the final minute, which started with Butler carrying a seven point lead. The reason you foul in the final minute is so you can 1) hope your opponent misses and/or 2) make three pointers to quickly cut into the lead and make a comeback. If anyone would like to explain why Buzz Williams kept his team fouling when Butler kept making their free throws (six free throws in the final 36 seconds after Butler was already up 12) and he knows his team sucks at shooting three pointers, please write in.