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Marquette Basketball Four Factors: at Seton Hall

Get ready to point to one specific thing that the Golden Eagles did to lose this game.

NCAA Basketball: Fresno State at Marquette Mary Langenfeld-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: 49.2% (This Season: 56.7%, #14)

Seton Hall: 55.4% (This Season: 50.0%, #173)

Let’s just get straight to the point here, because based on the line at the top, I know you’re thinking that this is the one thing Marquette did wrong.

It’s not.

Yes, allowing the Pirates to shoot the ball so well was bad. Yes, shooting the ball so poorly after being such a good shooting team all season long was bad. None of this is up for debate, but it wasn’t the breaking point of the game. It was ultimately a one possession game, and Marquette obviously overcame the shooting disparity to keep it at that margin. If you want, we can talk about MU shooting 52% in the first half and 47% in the second half as a possible cause to the defeat, but the overall 40 minute long shooting issue wasn’t the reason Marquette lost the game.

Markus Howard’s 3-of-6 from behind the arc excuses him on his 5-of-11 overall numbers, since that’s an eFG% of 59%. Jajuan Johnson went 0-of-3 from long range alongside his 4-of-13 overall shooting, so that wasn’t good, and neither was Haanif Cheatham’s 0-of-5. That brings up an interesting point about how just one play going differently alters how that final 30 seconds goes. What if Cheatham gets his layup with 1:16 remaining to fall? It would have been his only bucket of the game, sure, but that layup would have put Marquette up four at that point. Lots of things go differently at that point. SHU has a minute and change to rally from a two possession deficit instead of cutting it to just one on a Madison Jones freebie with 1:07 left.

Credit must be paid to Marquette’s defense for holding Khadeen Carrington to just 4-of-13 shooting, including a 0-for-4 mark from long range. Then again, it might have been that 0-for-4 that caused Carrington to drive it with 30 seconds left because Carrington is a 50% three-point shooter across the range of the season. He didn’t have it going there against the Golden Eagles, so he went for the best shot he could get.... and made it.... and drew a foul, setting off the chain of events that led to the Pirates holding onto the lead that Carrington gave them. Whoops.

While we can give a thumbs up for the defensive effort against Carrington, the same can’t be said about Angel Delgado. The big man was 9-of-13 in the game, including a ridiculous 6-of-7 in the first half.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 22.9% (This Season: 17.0%, #61)

Seton Hall: 24.6% (This Season: 21.0%, #69)

THIS, MU’s inability to hold on to the ball all game long, is the thing Marquette did wrong.

After being one of the worst offensive TO% teams in the country last year (#292, aka bottom 60 nationally), Marquette has been incredibly reliable with the ball this year. Even after this meltdown, MU’s still a top 70 team in that category, and you can be a pretty good team if you’re top 70 at keeping track of the ball. You know who’s at #62? 14-0 Gonzaga.

Anyway, the point is that this was a nightmare of an issue for the Golden Eagles. “No duh, dummy, they coughed it up twice in the final 30 seconds, of course turnovers were a problem.” It goes deeper than that. 1) This is Marquette’s worst TO% game of the season, which, y’know, is bad. It’s also only the third time this season where the TO% number rose over last year’s 20%. One was 20.5% against St. Francis, the other was 21% against Michigan... which was also a loss. 2) MU’s turnover rate was essentially identical in both halves. The turnovers were a huge problem long before Jajuan Johnson got stripped in the lane and Markus Howard got trapped just inside halfcourt.

To wit:

  • 18:40 1H, Seton Hall up 2-0.
  • 15:37 1H, Seton Hall up 7-6, MU on a 4-0 run
  • 7:45 1H, Marquette up 24-18, MU just snapped a 6-0 SHU run
  • 6:33 AND 6:09 1H, Marquette up 26-23, SHU on an 11-4 run
  • 4:00 1H, Marquette up 29-27, just retook the lead after losing a 10 point lead in six minutes
  • 1:12 AND 0:59 1H, Seton Hall up 33-32, SHU on a 6-0 run.

That’s just the first half turnovers. I could keep going with the second half, especially with MU committing three turnovers in the first seven minutes as SHU expanded their lead from one to eight.

This is what I was talking about in the recap. Yes, Marquette failed to win the game in the final 30 seconds. They didn’t lose the game there, though. This game should have been put out of the Pirates’ reach long before that final minute.

Part of the reason they were actually still in the game in the final minute is because of how well Marquette forced turnovers on defense. Angel Delgado and Khadeen Carrington, Seton Hall’s two biggest offensive weapons, both coughed it up four teams each. That’s a great job by MU to force their primary ball handlers into problems, and Madison Jones gave it away three times as well. After struggling in the non-conference portion of the schedule, Marquette’s defense has been pretty good so far through two Big East contests, and forcing opponents into turnovers on a league best 23% of possessions is a very big reason why.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 29.7% (This Season: 27.1%, #255)

Seton Hall: 30.0% (This Season: 26.5%, #59)

Marquette met Seton Hall in the middle on the Pirates’ glass, which I can find a way to cope with at the end of the day. MU’s normally good defensive rebounding was worse than normal, but so was SHU’s usually stout offensive rebounding. While you don’t want to see the opponent hit the 30% mark, it’s better than the 34% that the Pirates have as a season long average.

Maybe that’s the most disappointing part about how the game ended: Before Ismael Sanogo and Khadeen Carrington came up with one missed shot each in the final 30 seconds of the game, Marquette had held Seton Hall to corralling just 25% of their misses. MU was actually having a better than average day on the defensive glass.... right up until they weren’t and they lost.

While Marquette’s offensive rebounding was up a tick from the usual performance, it’s almost completely because of one player: Luke Fischer. The senior from Germantown had SEVEN offensive rebounds, outdoing all of his teammates’ rebounding totals on both ends except for Jajuan Johnson, who finished with eight. Given Fischer’s ability to dominate the Pirates when it came to Marquette’s misses, it’s actually completely shocking to see the zero in Fischer’s defensive rebounding column. How is it that he could thrash SHU much on the offensive glass but not even accidentally come up with a defensive rebound? Weird. I’m not going to knock him, because seven rebounds is seven rebounds and it’s higher than his per game average anyway, but it is weird.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 9.7% (This Season: 29.7%, #289)

Seton Hall: 19.6% (This Season: 34.1%, #161)

There were no free throws shot in the first half by either team, so these numbers are going to ridiculously off. Thus, there’s no point in discussing this any further.