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Marquette Basketball Four Factors: vs Wisconsin

It's been the defense that's failed the Golden Eagles repeatedly this season, but that wasn't the case against the Badgers.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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.  The first is Marquette's season long average in that category, and the second is their national ranking on KenPom.com.

Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)

Marquette: 35.6% (Season: 49.9%, #134)
Wisconsin: 40.4% (Season: 53.9%, #301)

Oh, that's annoying.  Not only did Marquette keep things under 50%, which is a rarity for them on defense this season, but they very nearly pulled it under 40%, which would be a near-Herculean effort.  Even better, they did it against a Wisconsin team that gets 40% of their shots on the season by shooting three pointers and is carrying around one of the 40 best eFG% numbers in the country.

But, while they were busting their butts on the defensive end, the offense let them down.  Worse, it was the two point shooting that killed the Golden Eagles against Wisconsin.  MU was 6-14 behind the arc, which is an eFG% of 64% on its own.  Marquette was so bad at shooting inside the arc that they literally threw away a stellar night at racking up bonus points behind the arc.  Of note: Juan Anderson, Derrick Wilson, Duane Wilson, and Jajuan Johnson went a collective 1-19 on shots that counted for two points.  After the game, I commented on whether Frank Kaminsky had altered 20 shots at the rim.  While I don't have an accurate shot chart for this game, nor does the box score help explain that other than just "in the paint," it seems pretty apparent from that 1-19 that my wild guess of 20 is pretty accurate.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 18.4% (Season: 17.4%, #81)
Wisconsin: 20.6% (Season: 25.3% #16)

Marquette's efforts at keeping track of the ball was just slightly worse than their very good season long average.  No issues there.  Actually, I take that back, one issue.  Matt Carlino had five turnovers in the game.  Three came before intermission, two after the break.  His fifth may have been the most costly: He lost the ball with 1:17 left in the game and MU trailing by just six.  30 seconds later, Frank Kaminsky buried his one and only three point attempt of the game, and that was that.

The defensive number is also a little worse than MU's average, but when you're a top 20 team at taking the ball away, it's hard to hit that average on a regular basis.  It should be noted that several of UW's 11 turnovers in the game were a result of Badger players thinking they knew were their teammates were going to be while attempting to penetrate the Marquette zone, but instead throwing the ball aimlessly out of bounds.  No one in blue and gold gets credit for a steal there, but it's good to see the zone causing confusion just by existing.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 15.6% (Season: 27.9%, #270)
Wisconsin: 37.8% (Season: 40.1%, #335)

SURPRISE: The Badgers are good at getting defensive rebounds, and when you combine that with Marquette being atrocious at rebounding on both ends of the court, you get a horrifying 16% rate for MU.... when you round up to be nice.  Shout out to Steve Taylor, Jr., though, because he still managed to grab three of Marquette's misses.

Taking that paragraph into account, you might think that it's actually pretty good that Marquette managed to do better than their regular average at keeping Wisconsin away from their own misses.  Here's the thing: Wisconsin's a mediocre offensive rebounding team.  I don't know what to make of their 168th in the country ranking on KenPom, especially when they're so good on defensive rebounding.  Perhaps it's just not a priority for Bo Ryan.  It is worth noting that while Marquette did better than usual against Wisconsin, 10 of the Badgers' 14 offensive caroms were collected by Nigel Hayes, Frank Kaminsky, and Sam Dekker, aka: the three guys you'd expect to do a number on Marquette.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 20.0% (Season: 41.8%, #107)
Wisconsin: 17.3% (Season: 29.0%, #51)

There just weren't a lot of free throws in this game.  Marquette's zone has a bit to do with this, as it coaxed the Badgers into shooting 30 three pointers, and MU was disciplined enough to let them shoot that without fouling.  Wisconsin's defensive responsibility has a large part to play as well.  There were only 28 fouls called in the whole game, and that's only that high because Marquette had to commit four fouls in three seconds in order to put Wisconsin into the bonus after Duane Wilson missed a layup with 31 seconds left.  Of course, Marquette was losing by NINE at this point, so there's a serious question to be asked as to what Steve Wojciechowski really thought was going to happen by giving Wisconsin a chance to push the lead to 11 with 28 seconds left, which is what Bronson Koenig did by hitting his freebies.  Yes, there was the chance that they were going to miss, but that still means that MU has to find a way to make up a nine point deficit in 25 seconds.  Doesn't seem likely, does it?