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Marquette Basketball Four Factors: at #13 Butler

Well, this probably won’t be fun.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Butler Sandra Dukes-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: 56.9% (This Season: 57.2%, #10)

Butler: 57.0% (This Season: 51.2%, #219)

Cards on the table: If Marquette plays their season average mediocre to bad defense, they win this game with ease. There’s no other way to get around that. They were the equivalent of nigh unstoppable on offense..... and let Butler be even better when the Bulldogs had the ball.

Here’s the real problem. The Bulldogs posted an eFG% of 77.8% in the second half. They shot 68% on two pointers, which is the majority of the issue. Had Butler gone haywire from long range, well, maybe you can just say “hey, they caught fire and that was that.” That’s not what happened. Yes, they were 4-of-5 on triples, which is very good, but Butler attempted just one three pointer in the first nine minutes of the second half while carving the 16 point halftime lead down to just four. The game was not lost on Butler’s great shooting the rest of the way, it was lost on the Bulldogs making their first four shots of the half and shooting 10-of-13 in those first nine minutes. Kelan Martin: 5/7, with the lone missed three in the second half. Kamar Baldwin: 6/10, 5/9 inside the arc. Kethan Savage: 3/4. That’s your ball game.

Marquette wasn’t even bad in the second half. The Golden Eagles had an eFG% of 52% after the break! That should have been good enough to win the game. Amongst players that took more than one shot in the game, Jajuan Johnson had the “worst” shooting day at 3-of-8. We should talk about the fact that discussing players with more than attempted field goal, we left Luke Fischer out of the discussion. The senior center took one shot in the game. One. Uno. Singular. Andrew Chrabascz is 6’7”. Tyler Wideman is 6’8”. 6’10” Nate Fowler played two minutes. Luke Fischer is 6’11”, and he took one shot in 23 minutes against that collection of defenders. What are you waiting for, dude?

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 10.7% (This Season: 16.8%, #53)

Butler: 6.1% (This Season: 20.2%, #95)

Spinning off of what we talked about in the eFG% category, if Marquette gets their defensive TO% to half - HALF - of their season average, they win this game. Maybe not easily, but say, three Jajuan Johnson steals that lead to three Jajuan Johnson dunks? 12 point swing, right?

Instead, what we got was Butler not turning the ball over at all in the final 23 minutes and 30 seconds of the game. Yes, that’s right: ZERO turnovers after halftime. None. Not a single goddamned one. Missing only eight shots and not committing a single turnover is a perfect recipe for the 1.78 points per possession that Butler assembled after the break. 178 points per 100 possessions.

That issue is so frustrating that it completely overwhelms Marquette’s lowest offensive TO% of the season. The second best performance of the season was 14.2% against Western Carolina, and that was part of a run where Marquette was below 15% in four out of five games and below 17% in five straight. This was an insane performance in maintaining possession and it went completely to waste.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 26.7% (This Season: 28.4%, #213)

Butler: 33.3% (This Season: 29.4%, #163)

When looking at season long numbers, both of these fall into the category of “Whatever.” Marquette’s not a good rebounding team across the span of 18 games, and these numbers just back that up.

However.

MU has been a really good offensive rebounding team in league play as well as a bad defensive rebounding team. This was worse than they’ve been doing on the offensive glass over the last six games, but better than they were doing on defense. For 40 minutes, Marquette’s rebounding was trending back towards what they were doing in non-conference play: non-existent offensive rebounding and high quality defensive rebounding.

Marquette had some really nice rebounding numbers for a while there, but this league play reversal has thrown everything out of whack and makes the team look like they’re kind of bad on both ends. I have no idea which team is the “real” one, but I think I liked it better when MU wasn’t worrying about offensive rebounds and was ending defensive possessions effectively.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 31.0% (This Season: 30.4%, #283)

Butler: 52.6% (This Season: 36.9%, #206)

10 free throws shot in the first half, 38 free throws shot in the second half, with 12 shot in the final 60 seconds. That’s still 26 free throws fired off in the first 19 minutes of the second half, and you can bet that Butler didn’t really want to give Marquette four free throws in the final minute.

I generally don’t like to be “blame the refs” guy, but that kind of disparity screams that there was a change in how the game was refereed. The problem for Marquette is that they’re primarily a jump shooting team, and when the referees appeared to start tightening their calls up in the second half, MU’s offense wasn’t ready to take advantage of that.