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: 37.1% (This Season: 50.7%, #129)
Xavier: 46.6% (This Season: 46.0%, #44)
Only one place to start here. If you strike Duane Wilson's 2 for 15 outing from the record, Marquette's eFG% jumps to 42.7%. If you go one step farther and drop Traci Carter's 1 for 7 from the score sheet, it goes up to 45.8%.
In other words, everybody was kind of bad, and that's what happens when you have the worst shooting day of the entire season. It just barely beats out the 38.3% that MU posted in the home game against Seton Hall to kick off Big East action this season. And yet, somehow, even though everyone was kind of bad, Marquette lost by just eight points at the final horn. Weird! You really can argue that if Xavier doesn't go on a 21-0 run for eight minutes in the first half, Marquette might be able to coast to victory, even with the ridiculously bad shooting day.
The argument for this is largely based on the fact that Marquette actually played really great defense against the #7 team in the country. As a whole this season, MU has been a good eFG% defense team, and that was the case here. They held the Musketeers to just 23% shooting behind the three point line in the game and just 37% overall in the second half. The drawback here is that Xavier had timely shooting. For example, Myles Davis went 2-10 in the game and 2-7 behind the three point line. Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, Davis' two makes in the game came about 80 seconds apart, and both shoved Xavier's lead back to 12 points after Marquette had cut it to single digits late in the second half. A horrible day shooting the ball, but Davis may have singlehandedly won the game for the Musketeers with the two shots he did make.
Turnover Rate (TO%)
Marquette: 13.3% (This Season: 19.8%, #263)
Xavier: 20.2% (This Season: 20.2%, #69)
See, this is why the bad shooting day is so disappointing. Marquette, a usually terrible team in this department, was OUTSTANDING for forty minutes, and even better in the second half. Just 10 turnovers in the entire game, with just four coming after intermission. The crazy part is that Haanif Cheatham and Duane Wilson combined for six of the 10 giveaways here, so it stands to reason that Marquette could and should have actually been much better than 13%.
I'd say that Marquette really did a number defensively on James Farr, since he had a game high four turnovers, buuuuuuuuut Farr finished with 16 points and 19 rebounds. When you've got the ball that much, you're going to turn it over a little bit more than anyone else. Kaiser Gates is the only Musketeer that played more than 10 minutes that didn't commit at least one turnover, and five players, including Farr, committed at least two. It was a widespread effort on MU's part to pry the ball loose from Xavier in what amounted to a failed effort to balance out their lousy shooting day.
Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR)
Marquette: 28.8% (This Season: 29.1%, #204)
Xavier: 34.3% (This Season: 30.8%, #197)
This is the opposite of the turnover numbers, as Marquette was worse than normal here. As you probably guessed from the last paragraph, James Farr did a number on MU on the offensive glass. There's no way you can get to 19 rebounds without ripping it up on the offensive glass, and that was the case here with Farr wrapping up five of Xavier's misses. Jalen Reynolds and Trevon Bluiett both grabbed two offensive rebounds here, but the Musketeers were almost guaranteed to be great in this department after the outing that Farr assembled.
Marquette's raw numbers were great in this game, with Henry Ellenson and Luke Fischer grabbing three offensive rebounds and Wally Ellenson reeling in four of his own. But this is a RATE stat, which means you have to take possible opportunities for offensive rebounds into account, and Marquette had A LOT of chances for ORebs in this game since they were missing so many shots. This game, with Marquette having three more offensive rebounds than Xavier, is living proof that rebound margin is not a useful thing to talk about.
Free Throw Rate (FTR)
Marquette: 30.0% (This Season: 38.8%, #132)
Xavier: 44.1% (This Season: 25.4%, #8)
Yay, another game where Marquette's Offensive FTR is down or about the same and the Defensive FTR is waaaaaay up. Hooray.
It's also the second straight game where the officials called enough fouls for 13 total free throws in the first half, but both teams managed to eclipse that number by themselves in the second half. The fouls were so out of control in the second half that Xavier had an FTR after halftime of 67% after posting a 25% in the first half. Does this sound like an evenly refereed game to you? I don't expect much from college basketball referees, but I do expect to see a game where they don't decide to change how they're calling the game during their halftime meeting. I mean, if they didn't change how they were refereeing the game, then the players decided that they were going to play even more aggressively and ignore how the refs were calling the game. Which one sounds more like reality to you?