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Marquette Basketball Four Factors: at #1 Villanova Wildcats

UGH

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Villanova Eric Hartline-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.

DISCLAIMER: Marquette was losing this game by 23 points with two minutes left to play, and yet somehow, the final margin was only 12 points. We’re going to identify the full game numbers for the Four Factors at the top of each section as usual, but we’re going to have to talk about how badly some of these numbers shifted in the final two minutes as well. The fact of the matter is that this game was not close and pretending that the 12 point final margin is some sort of real representation of it is horribly wrong.

Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)

Marquette: 52.4% (This Season: 56.4%, #16)

Villanova: 79.6% (This Season: 51.7%, #232)

Well, good news, kids: Marquette’s shooting wasn’t that impacted by the final two minutes, as if you knock out that flurry of shooting, MU’s eFG% drops to just 50.9%, and that’s not so bad. Villanova missed their only two shots of the final two minutes, which means that their eFG% for the first 38 minutes was 83%. YEAH. 12% of all of VU’s missed shots in the game happened in the final two minutes. They missed just 15 shots in the first 38 minutes. BREAKING NEWS: Good shooting team got mindbendingly frigging hot for 40 minutes against a team that’s outright awful at defending three-pointers.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 18.4% (This Season: 17.1%, #69)

Villanova: 20.2% (This Season: 21.0%, #63)

Hey, look, something that went well for Marquette in this game. Hooray.

Okay, mostly well. If you discount Villanova’s two turnovers in the final two minutes, their turnover rate drops to just 18%. Honestly, if that had been MU’s defensive effort for the game against the #1 team in the country, I wouldn’t have shouted too loudly about it. Hilariously, Jalen Brunson and Eric Paschall are the two guys who coughed it up late, and they were the two dudes who finished with a team high three turnovers.

I guess we can give the Golden Eagles credit for getting their turnover issue back under control after the nightmare. Then again, if you ignore the final two minutes of absurdity, the TO% rises to 19.9%, which is starting to be not so great. With three Big East games in the books, KenPom has MU with the second worst offensive TO% in the Big East at just a little bit under 20%. Ninth is where Marquette finished a year ago in league play, and 20% on the button is where they landed. I hate to harp on something in a situation where MU wasn’t really all that bad, but this trend during league play can not continue if Wojo & Co. actually think they have a shot at the NCAA tournament.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 48.6% (This Season: 28.7%, #208)

Villanova: 40.0% (This Season: 27.1%, #78)

Marquette grabbed three offensive rebounds in the final two minutes, wrapping up all of their missed shots in that stretch. The good news is that this doesn’t change their outstanding OR% performance in this game. I will sign up for 44% for the rest of the season right now. You want me to sign it in lamb’s blood? Cool, I’ll even slaughter the lamb.

After this outing, Marquette is the best offensive rebounding team in the Big East and the second worst defensive rebounding team in the Big East. How the flip is that possible? Look at those national ranks for the full season stats. It’s the exact flipping opposite through three league games. Luke Fischer and Matt Heldt finished with four grabs on the offensive glass, and Katin Reinhardt added another three. Hell, Andrew Rowsey deserves the tiniest bit of razzing from his teammates for being the only Golden Eagle that didn’t reel in one of their missed shots.

As mentioned, Marquette is being kind of crap on the defensive glass, and that was a major factor in the Wildcats running away with this. If they’re not missing shots, you definitely have to end possessions after only one attempt, and that was not happening.

I do think I have something of an answer for MU’s struggles on the defensive glass through three league games. Ready? You might want to go get a drink.

Luke Fischer hasn’t grabbed a defensive rebound since there were 55 seconds left in the Georgetown game.

None against Seton Hall. None against Villanova.

Now let’s be clear: Fischer is averaging 5.5 rebounds per game in the past two contests, so it’s not like he’s some sort of bump on a log. He’s clearly contributing - KenPom has him with the best offensive rebounding rate in the Big East - his contributions are just not on the defensive glass, that’s all. Of course, we should probably point out that one of the major reasons why he had no defensive rebounds in this game is because Wojo yanked him at the 12:15 mark of the second half and he never went back in. It is a little bit of a chicken and the egg scenario, though: Did Wojo yank him after 20 minutes of play because he wasn’t getting defensive rebounds or did not playing the final 12 minutes prevent him from getting a defensive rebound?

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 27.0% (This Season: 29.5%, #296)

Villanova: 44.9% (This Season: 34.7%, #171)

As seemingly always, I can’t get wound up about Marquette’s lack of getting to the line. Half their shots were three-pointers. You don’t shoot a lot of free throws when you mostly shoot jump shots. That’s life. In fact, 27% is way too high, because Matt Heldt shot four free throws in the final two minutes. Toss that nonsense out, and the FTR is only 21.%.

Here’s a cripplingly depressing statistic: 47% of Villanova’s shots were from long range and Marquette still let the Wildcats get to the line way more than the Golden Eagles were getting there.