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Marquette Basketball Four Factors: vs Western Carolina

Breaking news: The Golden Eagles shot the ball REALLY well against the Catamounts.

NCAA Basketball: Western Carolina at Marquette
One of Sam Hauser’s four defensive rebounds against Western Carolina. He’s one of the 400 best defensive rebounders in the country, by the way.
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 one is the season long average for the Golden Eagles, and the next is where they rank on a national level on KenPom.com.

Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)

Marquette: 66.4% (This Season: 58.0%, #9)

Western Carolina: 35.0% (This Season: 46.5%, #78)

It’s the third straight game with an eFG% over 60% for the Golden Eagles, and the fourth time this season. That’s pretty good. I can’t help but remember that Marquette’s two worst shooting performances are both 1) below 50% and 2) their only two losses of the season when I see that #9 overall ranking on the year.

Marquette’s offensive output was powered by every player attempting a three pointer making at least one and everyone shooting at least 33.3% from behind the arc. While MU was great behind the arc (48.1%) in this game, they were pretty great on two point buckets as well, draining 19 of 31 attempts.

We could talk about Marquette cooling way, way off in the second half, going from 86% eFG% in the first half to 47% in the second half, but MU’s first basket of the second half put them up by 40, so does anyone really care?

The defense was exceptional, and that’s saying something, given that being in the top 100 in the first place is pretty solid. It’s the second time this season where Marquette has posted a defensive eFG% below 45%, and actually, it’s the second one where they went below 40%. Devin Peterson went 3-for-14 with a 2-for-9 in the first half, and Elijah Pughsley went 4-for-13, and he matched Peterson’s 2-for-9 with one of his own after halftime.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 14.2% (This Season: 16.1%, #42)

Western Carolina: 27.7% (This Season: 21.1%, #89)

It’s the second straight game and third time in the last four games where Marquette has kept their turnover rate under 15%. Honestly, under 18% would still be great, as that would 1) be an improvement on last year and 2) still in the top 100. Here’s the really whacky part about this great offensive turnover rate: Jajuan Johnson had four turnovers all by himself. Even weirder: Three of them came in the first half while Marquette was building a 38 point lead. As it happens, MU only had four turnovers in the first half, which probably explains why no one thinks about Johnson particularly struggling.

As you might expect with a half where you hold the opponent to 18 points, Western Carolina had no idea what they were doing with the ball in the first half. They turned it over on 36% of their possessions, with four different players coughing it up at least three times. Things got a lot better for them in the second half (18%), but that might also have a tinge of Marquette not trying very hard to take it from them.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 20.7% (This Season: 26.0%, #265)

Western Carolina: 23.5% (This Season: 26.3%, #74)

With just two games with an OR% over 30% this season, I’m starting to think that this is by design for Marquette. I don’t know if this game can really be a good example of that since MU only grabbed one offensive rebound in the first half.... but that was on just 10 chances, and two of those were off free throws. When your eFG% is 86%, can you really blame anyone for not really trying very hard to grab what few misses there are?

Marquette’s effort on the defensive glass is one of the reasons why I think the Golden Eagles are intentionally abandoning the offensive glass. Marquette was a sub-200 team in both rebounding categories a year ago, but they have really figured things out on the defensive end this year.... and yet the offensive end is actually doing a little bit worse.

Four different Golden Eagles had at least four defensive rebounds in this one, and Matt Heldt just barely missed out with three grabs in 25 minutes, his high water mark for minutes in his career.... which he had just set against Houston Baptist........ with 14.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 31.0% (This Season: 28.4%, #298)

Western Carolina: 32.0% (This Season: 27.2%, #199)

With Marquette ranking in the top 125 in the country in percentage of shots that come from behind the three point line, I think we need to start accepting that Marquette is just not going to be good at FTR this season. The Golden Eagles have had just one game over 40% this season after in the top 100 in the country at just a shade of 40 last year. The good news is that while they’re not getting to the line all that much, they are taking advantage of their opportunities. Marquette is shooting 80.6% from the line this season, which is the 9th best mark in the country.

Marquette’s still a little too foul prone this season. I’m just going to point that out and leave it at that, what with MU winning this game by 46 and all.