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, at least for the first few games of the season, is last year’s season long average for the Golden Eagles, and the next is where they ranked across the country on KenPom.com. Once we get a few games in, we’ll change that to Marquette’s current season average and rank.
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)
Marquette: 45.4% (2015-16: 52.0%, #76)
Pittsburgh: 52.6% (2015-16: 48.7%, #107)
Y’know how everyone had the idea that Marquette was gonna shoot a ton of threes this season and everyone was okay with that given 1) the composition of the roster and 2) the ability of each individual player to knock down threes on the regular? Yeah, well, Marquette went 7-25 from long range in this game. Amazingly, they went 3-12 while building an 11 point halftime lead, and then got “better” by shooting 4-13 in the second half while blowing a 15 point lead.
Meanwhile, their two point shooting was completely awful after the break, as MU went 5-for-17. Luke Fischer, Katin Reinhardt, and Jajuan Johnson combined to miss each of the nine combined two point attempts they had in the half. Which, y’know, is bad. You can survive that kind of shooting, of course, but you need a lot of other things working in your favor, and that was definitely not the case, as you’ll see in a minute or two.
Pitt was a weird group of shooters in this game. They had four guys that combined to go 27-for-48, but the rest of the squad was 1-9. They did most of their damage after halftime, which shouldn’t surprise you. That group of four - Michael Young, Jamel Artis, Chris Jones, and Ryan Luther - went 17-of-28, including a nearly unstoppable 8-of-11 form Young. It’s entirely possible that Marquette wins this game if all they did was force Young to pass twice.
If you want to find a silver lining here, at least Marquette defended Pitt’s three point shooting well? They hit on just 24% of their long balls.
Turnover Rate (TO%)
Marquette: 14.3% (2015-16: 20.0%, #292)
Pittsburgh: 14.8% (2015-16: 19.1%, #108)
Things seemed to be going perfectly well in the first half, as things tend to do when you build an 11 point lead. MU had committed just six turnovers in a 40 possession half, and forced the Panthers to cough it up more than 22% of the time. That’s pretty much exactly what you’d love to see from your team.... and then Pitt turned it over just twice in the second half. Marquette didn’t get bad on their end, only losing the ball five times. They just weren’t ending Panther possessions with steals like they did in the first half when MU had five takeaways.
Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)
Marquette: 19.5% (2015-16: 28.1%, #229)
Pittsburgh: 18.2% (2015-16: 30.7%, #225)
I’m sure I’ve seen a game where both teams have been so allergic to rounding up their own misses, but I don’t remember one off the top of my head. It’s also hard to get excited about such an outstanding job by Marquette on the defensive glass when the performance on the offensive glass was a total nightmare.
Free Throw Rate (FTR)
Marquette: 29.2% (2015-16: 40.5%, #82)
Pittsburgh: 45.6% (2015-16: 28.0%, #25)
At what point do you want to start worrying about Marquette’s inability to keep their opponents off the free throw line? The Golden Eagles have yet to post a defensive FTR below 37% in their four games, and for context, being at 36.9% for the year would have finished right about in the middle of the national rankings. Marquette has been very good at this in Steve Wojciechowski’s first two seasons, and that lines up with how Duke played while he was an assistant coach there as well. Obviously, there’s a lot of time left in the season to iron this out, but it’s weird that things are so far over to one side given the number of returning players on this roster.