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Marquette Basketball Four Factors: at #6 Villanova

It wasn't close, then it was, then it wasn't again. Let's poke around the rubble and see what happened.

Yeah, Henry's over here now, Chef.
Yeah, Henry's over here now, Chef.
Bill Streicher-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: 51.9% (This Season: 51.7%, #90)
Villanova: 51.8% (This Season: 45.9%, #47)

On one hand, it ended up being a good shooting day overall for the Golden Eagles.  On the other hand, they shot 69% in the first half and 35% in the second half as Villanova quickly wiped out Marquette's 1 point halftime lead and ended up winning by 15.  It was a team effort to look good in the first half, with Marquette only missing 10 shots and Haanif Cheatham's not actually terrible 3-8 accounting for half of those misses.  It was a different story after the break, when Marquette missed 19 shots and only Duane Wilson and Luke Fischer hit on more than one attempt.

The biggest struggle in the shooting department?  3-14 behind the arc in the second half.  Marquette's not a great three point shooting team, connecting on just 34% of their attempts this season.  Villanova's actually worse, but they shoot a ton of them.... except they didn't in the second half here.  Just five long range attempts after the break for the Wildcats, so it's not like Marquette was being goaded into a shooting contest with them.  They were, however, being goaded into trying to cut into the ever increasing deficit as the second half went on and just kept getting worse.

While MU's defensive effort wasn't up to their usual standards this season, it was a better than usual effort from what the Wildcats see this season.  Nova's shooting an eFG% of 54.3% after this game, so this was a solid defensive job by Marquette from that perspective.  Villanova's shooting was pretty even, going 50% in the first half and 54% in the second.  While Marquette did a solid job on leading scorer Josh Hart (10 points on 4-12 shooting, 0-5 3PA), Kris Jenkins filled the hole nicely.  Jenkins scored a game high 20 points on 6-12 shooting, including a 3-6 outing from long range.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 20.3% (This Season: 20.2%, #280)
Villanova: 14.0% (This Season: 20.2%, #76)

Marquette's lousy at taking care of the ball, and this game was a standard issue game for Marquette.  The thing that has usually propped up the Golden Eagles is forcing the ball out at an equal or greater rate, and that didn't happen here.  Only Jalen Brunson and Ryan Arcidiacono had more than one turnover.  The kind of bananas thing about Marquette's mad rush in the first half to take the lead at the break was that Villanova had just three turnovers.  On top of that, Marquette was coughing it up more than 25% of the time in the first half, but Henry Ellenson committed the final turnover of the frame with 4:53 remaining.

While Marquette struggled to hit shots in the second half, their ball control didn't contribute to their downfall.  I can live with a 15.6% turnover rate, and by "live with," I mean "run around the neighborhood with my pants off," and not just because that's such a major improvement over the standard issue performance.  15.6% for the season would have Marquette in the top 30 in the country, which just goes to show you how very little separates "bad at turnovers" from "good at turnovers."

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 20.7% (This Season: 29.1%, #203)
Villanova: 26.5% (This Season: 30.6%, #190)

I always find it funny when Marquette is bad on one end of the court at rebounding but good at the other.  When you look at the "bad" end, you have to think that it's not an effort issue, because they're doing so well on the other side.  Then you look at the "good" end, and you can't help but wonder why they can't get the industrial strength Windex going on the "bad" end.

While it was great to see Traci Carter reel in two offensive rebounds, Marquette's biggest failing in this department is the goose egg from Luke Fischer.  In Luke's defense, we have to point out that he shot 5-6 in the game.  It's hard to accidentally wrap up an offensive rebound or two when essentially everything you're throwing up goes in the net.  On the other side, you could make the argument that since Fischer was doing so well, he should have gotten more chances to shoot, which could have led to more chances at offensive rebounds.  Que sera, sera, I guess.

I want to repeat this so everyone understands the reality before I say the next thing: Marquette did a very good job at securing defensive rebounds and preventing Villanova from second chance points.  Okay?  All on the same page here?  Alright, here's the other thing: Daniel Ochefu had six offensive rebounds all by himself, which was two-thirds of Nova's OReb for the game.  FIVE of them came in the first half.  Given Marquette's general trouble at holding on to the ball and rebounding on both ends of the court, they really can not allow one guy to be such a dominant rebounder like that.  If they end up with 14 OReb because seven guys all grab two each, eh, well, whaddya gonna do?  One guy getting five of their nine total grabs in 14 first half minutes?  That's garbage.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 32.1% (This Season: 39.4%, #115)
Villanova: 53.6% (This Season: 24.4%, #3)

I tweeted this the other day:

And then this, as a followup:

Ok, so defensive FTR went way up (mostly) when Big East games started.  Fine.  I don't think you can just attribute it to "better opponents" when it was so low against Iowa, LSU, Arizona State, and Wisconsin, but all of a sudden waaaaay up against Big East opponents, but whatever.  My real question is how is it that the defensive number is way through the roof, but the offensive number isn't?  If Marquette is suddenly fouling way more after not fouling all that much during the non-conference schedule, doesn't it stand to reason that Marquette should be getting fouled way more as well?  Marquette's reduced the number of three-pointers that they're shooting per game in league action, so it's not like there's suddenly a giant pile of jump shots in the offense and teams are avoiding fouling jump shooters.  Instead, the offensive FTR is essentially steady to the numbers that we've seen all season.  Weird, right?

Also weird: what the hell was going on in this game.  I don't want to accuse anyone of anything, but there were 11 total free throws shot in the first half, followed by 36 total free throws shot in the second half.  That seems... odd, doesn't it?  I'm the kind of guy that doesn't really care how the referees call the game.  Players gotta play better than the refs ref, and coaches gotta coach better, too.  What drives me nuts is when I see a game that appears to have been called by two different refereeing crews.  Pick a lane and stay in it.