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Marquette Basketball Four Factors: vs #1 Villanova Wildcats

There’s a lot going on here, guys.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Marquette 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: 58.7% (This Season: 57.9%, #5)
Villanova: 44.8% (This Season: 51.2%, #204)

What a weird game. Marquette spent the first half getting avalanched by the Villanova offense and defense, and then the whole thing flipped around in the second half. First half eFG%: Nova wins, 55% to 38%. Second half eFG%: Marquette wins, 85% to 37%. Yes, you read that right, EIGHTY-FIVE PERCENT. MU went 9-of-12 on two-pointers and 7-of-11 on three-pointers after halftime. That’s NUTS. Haanif Cheatham and Andrew Rowsey combined for four of Marquette’s missed shots in the final 20 minutes with two each, and no one else missed more than one. Katin Reinhardt was absurd in the second half, posting an individual eFG% of 117%. That’s not a typo.

If you want, you can keep pointing back to this game as to how good Marquette can be on defense if the other team isn’t hitting their three-pointers. The Wildcats are one of the best shooting teams in the country, and while that’s largely dependent on amazing shooting inside the arc, they’re not exactly slouches outside of it. On the season, Villanova is shooting 38% on triples, but they connected on just 18% in this game. Four players, including Kris Jenkins, the hero of the national championship, combined to go oh-fer on 19 long range attempts. 13 of those misses came in the second half, which, as you’ll remember, is where Marquette completely turned the game around partially thanks to Nova not being able to throw the ball into Lake Michigan.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 18.9% (This Season: 16.9%, #57)
Villanova: 12.0% (This Season: 19.5%, #124)

This was not a great night when it comes to turnovers for the Golden Eagles. It’s the third straight game where Marquette posted a defensive TO% below 15%, which is generally speaking not a positive sign. Marquette’s struggling to defend teams when they shoot the ball, and one of the ways they can best combat that is by forcing turnovers. If Marquette’s not going to force turnovers at a meaningful rate, they’re going to have to do things like shoot 85% eFG% in a half to beat teams. That’s a bad plan.

The weird part about the whole thing is that Marquette’s defensive pressure was almost non-existent in the second half when they were putting the clamps on the Wildcats in the shooting department. VU turned the ball over on just 9% of their possessions after halftime. That’s partly responsible for Villanova still managing 0.96 points per possession in the final 20 minutes since they very rarely came away from a possession without at least getting one shot up.

On the offensive side of the court, it kind of looks like Marquette had a rough night keeping track of the ball, and for the full 40 minutes, that’s true. However, the problem was really only in the first half. MU coughed it up on 24% of their first half possessions, but while rallying in the second half, that number dropped to just 13%.

The craziest part about this? Jajuan Johnson had five turnovers all by himself. Two of them came in the second half, and the final one nearly cost Marquette the game. Sam Hauser had cut the VU lead to just three points, and MU got a missed three from Kris Jenkins and a missed free throw from Josh Hart on the ensuing loose ball. On the following possession, with 2:17 left, Johnson lofted a pass without a lot of steam on it across the top of the three point arc and Jalen Brunson cut the ball off for an easy lay-in. Five point game. Things still worked out okay, but, y’know, bad timing.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 37.9% (This Season: 28.5%, #206)
Villanova: 40.0% (This Season: 29.7%, #174)

The Golden Eagles had a really good day on the offensive glass! They were up over their season long average in both halves, including a 56% rate in the second half. MU was able to take advantage of Villanova being clumsy with their defensive rebounding efforts, as four of the offensive grabs from the Golden Eagles are on the scoresheet as “Team” rebounds.

They did not have a good day on the defensive glass, though. Three different Wildcats were able to grab at least four offensive rebounds, and both Darryl Reynolds and Mikal Bridges had five each. Villanova’s offensive rebounding nearly cost MU the game in the final 40 seconds. First Josh Hart soared in from outta nowhere to tip in a Jalen Brunson three-pointer that had badly missed, and then Darryl Reynolds tipped Brunson’s last second layup attempt back up at the rim. The first one tied the game back up after Marquette had taken their first lead of the game, the second one would have sent it to overtime if not for physics blessing the Golden Eagles one last time.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 42.3% (This Season: 31.4%, #274)
Villanova: 23.9% (This Season: 35.8%, #180)

Here’s a public service announcement for all you youngsters out there: When a team can’t miss their regular field goal attempts like was the case with Marquette in the second half, DO NOT allow them to shoot free throws to the tune of a 78% FTR as well. Now, Villanova caught a massive break with Marquette going just 11-18 from the line in the second half, but handing MU that many chances to score with the clock stopped definitely did not work out in the Wildcats’ favor.

It’s also refreshing to see Marquette lay off the fouls in this game. Villanova went wild with the three-point attempts (more than half of their shots were behind the arc), which kind of explains MU’s ability to keep their FTR kind of low. Rule #1: Don’t foul a jump shooter.