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: 63.2% (This Season: 51.7%, #93)
Xavier: 61.5% (This Season: 46.4%, #50)
Remember after the Butler game, when I said that Marquette wasn't likely to shoot like that again this season? Well, technically, I was right, because they actually shot the ball better here. Just 0.3 percentage points better, but hey, better is better. The main culprit is - like the Butler game - MU going white hot from behind the three point line. Five of the six players who attempted a three in this game for Marquette shot at least 50% on their attempts. The outlier was Traci Carter, who went ohfer on his three attempts. Minor quibble, but two of his misses came in the second half after MU shot 63% as a team on long balls, so maaayyyyyybe just let it go when everyone else is hot, Traci. I especially want to hit that point because Carter was 1-2 on twos in the game, which means that other than TC's three point attempts, everyone that attempted a shot in the game shot at least 50% in the game. Not eFG% shooting, regular shooting percentage. That's NUTS.
The downside of the amazingly awesome performance by the offense (20-36 on twos, as well) was that the defense was absolutely putrid. It's the worst eFG% defensive performance of the conference season by Marquette, and it's only surpassed on the season as a whole by the defensive nightmare that was the Gavitt Tipoff Games contest against Iowa. The Musketeers shot SIXTY-FIVE PERCENT on threes. YEAH. Trevon Bluiett was 5-6 (!!) and J.P. Macura was 3-4 on long balls. The annoying part about this is that MU's defense inside the three point line was actually pretty good. Xavier's basic shooting percentage was just under 51% for the game because they went 18-41 (44%) on two pointers. You have to sit here staring at this game thinking "My god, literally three stops anywhere on those three pointers and Marquette wins."
And, boy, if you're sitting there with your hand over your mouth bemoaning the lack of defense from an otherwise strong defensive team, you're going to want to move it to cover your eyes for the next section....
Turnover Rate (TO%)
Marquette: 27.0% (This Season: 21.0%, #316)
Xavier: 12.4% (This Season: 19.5%, #101)
TWENTY GODDAMNED TURNOVERS TEN IN EACH HALF HOLY HELL WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS GAME MARQUETTE SHOULD HAVE WON BY 40.
Yes, I know it doesn't really work like that. But Xavier scored 22 points on turnovers, so if you figure they DON'T score those because Marquette doesn't turn it over 20 damn times, and Marquette converts on those saved possessions because they were white hot shooting the ball, well, that turns into a 40 point game for the Golden Eagles, now doesn't it? Well, okay, 30 points, because X won by 8.
This is, by the way, Marquette's worst ball control game of the season, surpassing the insanely stupid 26.4% they posted against Providence and the 26.3 they showed at St. John's. Weirdly, Marquette won both of those games. It's the eighth time this season that Marquette has turned it over on at least 25% of their possessions in a season where 18% would be considered halfway decent. Somehow, they're 5-3 in those games. Go figure.
Duane Wilson had seven of Marquette's turnovers all by himself. When you tack on bouncing all three of his free throw attempts off the front of the rim, including the final one with Marquette trailing by four with 12 seconds left, it was not a good game for the redshirt sophomore, and yes, I realize he shot 4-6 on threes when I say that.
I'd probably be less irritated by the 27% if MU had figured out how to minimize their problems by creating some for Xavier. It's usually been one of the things that the Golden Eagles have done well this season, but their quick hands failed them in this game. Xavier had just nine turnovers in the game, and no one had more than two. The turnovers were fairly split between the two halves - four in the first, five in the second - with MU forcing three in the final six minutes in an effort to steal the game late. Get it? Steal? Ah, comedy.
UPDATE: This tweet from Paint Touches, which I am putting in after this posted, if for no other reason that to illustrate how blinded by rage I was by all of the turnovers that I didn't even bother to look at Xavier's contribution to Marquette coughing it up.
@AnonymousEagle you should point out that only 4 of MU's 20 TOs were from X steals. 16 "unforced" errors.— Paint Touches (@PaintTouches) February 9, 2016
Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)
Marquette: 33.3% (This Season: 29.3%, #189)
Xavier: 25.7% (This Season: 31.5%, #244)
ARGH, THEY WASTED A GREAT REBOUNDING OUTING WITH HELLACIOUS AMOUNTS OF TURNOVERS AND SHODDY SHOOTING DEFENSE.
I'm shouting a lot here, aren't I? Well, it's frustrating to see and have to actually type out, y'know?
Luke Fischer was a destroyer in this game, wrapping up seven of Marquette's nine offensive rebounds. He only had one defensive rebound, but hey, that's fine: when Henry Ellenson (6) and Sandy Cohen (9) are doing what they were doing on the defensive glass, we can let Fischer coast on his offensive laurels in this game.
The most impressive thing that happened in this game was that Marquette held James Farr without a single rebound. Farr is the sixth best offensive rebounder in the country based on rebounding rates according to KenPom.com, and he's the best offensive rebounder and third best defensive rebounder in the Big East. He had 19 rebounds in the first meeting between Marquette and Xavier this season, and he was held to squadoosh in an admittedly injury limited 11 minutes off the bench here. Muscle issues or no, keeping Farr out of the picture is one hell of a job for Marquette.
Free Throw Rate (FTR)
Marquette: 39.6% (This Season: 38.9%, #124)
Xavier: 39.3% (This Season: 26.1%, #11)
First half FTRs: 15% and 16%. Second half FTRs: 65% and 63%. What in the name of Lucky Luciano is happening here? It's been one game after another where FTRs go completely hockey puck insane in the second half. How is this possible? How did Marquette and Xavier go from a half where nine total free throws were shot to a half where 36 free throws were shot? Did the two teams suddenly get foul crazy? Did the referees suddenly start calling a tighter game, or worse, a completely different game? I guess, if you really want to, you could try to claim that things weren't that completely out of control since Xavier shot 10 free throws in the final minute of the game, and that accounted for more than half of their freebies after half time. That doesn't account for Marquette shooting more than four times more free throws in the second half (17) as compared to the first half (4).