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Marquette Basketball Four Factors: vs Wisconsin

And now, the blueprint to beat the Badgers in Madison.

Mary Langenfeld-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 one is the season long average for the Golden Eagles, and the next is where they rank across the country on KenPom.com.

Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)

Marquette: 55.4% (This Season: 54.2%, #49)
Wisconsin: 40.9% (This Season: 44.0%, #26)

AND THAT'S HOW YOU WIN A DAMN BASKETBALL GAME IN MADISON WOOOOOOO

You know what my favorite part about this is?  Marquette was 3-5 on three-pointers in the game.  2-4 in the first half and 1-1 in the second.  Weirdly, the lone three pointer in the second half should have been the back breaker in the game.  That bucket came from Henry Ellenson giving the Golden Eagles a 14 point lead with 11:33 to play, their biggest lead of the game.  MU ended up letting the Badgers back into the game, but that's an issue for a different category.

Wanna hear something weird?  Ellenson was the only Golden Eagle to shoot under 50% in the game.  And his 7-of-17 wasn't even bad!

On the other side of the ball, hoooo boy, I'm glad I'm not the pillow that Bo Ryan shouts his cusswords into at night.  Nigel Hayes was 4-18, including a nasty 1-6 from three, and Bronson Koenig was 3-11.  You're gonna have a hard time figuring out how to win basketball games when your two best players are busy supervising construction of a skyscraper made of bricks on the offensive end.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 19.1% (This Season: 19.7%, #234)
Wisconsin: 11.5% (This Season: 18.9%, #149)

Here's where we get back to that dwindling lead.  Ellenson hit his triple with 11:33 remaining in the game.  Over the next four and a half minutes, Marquette committed four of their 11 turnovers in the game.  Instead of pinning the Badgers' ears back over that stretch, the lead fell down to just nine and on the possession following that fourth turnover, UW cut the lead down to seven.  Yes, things would get even closer with the Badgers tying the game twice in the final 90 seconds, but that late push was powered by cutting that 14 point margin in half.

This game is a wonderful look at why the Four Factors and other tempo-free statistics are so important.  11 turnovers is actually the second lowest total number of turnovers of the season for Marquette, tied with two other games this season.  However, this was the slowest paced game of the season at 59 possessions (MU hadn't been below 72 all season), and that's how you get such a high rate of turnovers.

If Marquette wants to keep building as the season goes on, the turnover rate thing needs to get fixed post-haste.  Like I said, the raw number was mostly okay here.  Young or not, the team has to know that the effect of turnovers are going to amplified in a game like this, and they have to be even more careful than normal with the ball.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 21.4% (This Season: 28.5%, #230)
Wisconsin: 34.1% (This Season: 30.3%, #179)

Ew, gross.  This was the second worst offensive OR% game of the season for Marquette, only beaten out by the 17.5% posted against Arizona State.  Oddly, those were both wins for the Golden Eagles.  It is possible that this was largely powered by a defensive strategy from head coach Steve Wojciechowski, but that seems unlikely given the generally methodical nature of the Badgers offense.  You don't really have to hurry back and get set on defense against these guys, y'know?

MU had just six offensive rebounds in the game, but it was the fifth and sixth ones that sealed the deal for Marquette.  Both were gathered up by Luke Fischer: first the putback on Ellenson's shot with 28 seconds left to finish the scoring for the game, and then securing the miss on Haanif Cheatham's free throw with four seconds left.  Fischer waited until then to grab any offensive rebounds, but he sure picked some prime moments to grab his only two to finish with eight rebounds in the game.

Marquette was pretty lousy on the defensive glass, too, allowing the third highest opponent's OR% this season.  The first half was mostly okay (29%), but the 40% in the second half was, as Charles Barkley would say, turrible.  Nigel Hayes had three offensive grabs all on his own after intermission, and you could probably make a solid argument that's why he scored nine of his 10 points in that half.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 30.4% (This Season: 38.4%, #135)
Wisconsin: 6.1% (This Season: 21.5%, #3)

Cool.

Historically speaking, Wisconsin doesn't foul much, finishing in the top 10 of defensive FTR each of the last three seasons.  That hasn't been the case this year (#163), but that is how UW usually plays.  With that being the case, I'm writing off MU's FTR in this game to the usual disciplined Badger defense.

As always, the defensive FTR was super great, allowing just four UW free throw attempts in the game and just one in the second half.