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: 50.0% (This Season: 57.4%, #6)
Butler: 57.8% (This Season: 52.0%, #243)
Lose at eFG%, lose the game. It’s a perfect correlation this season, and it bites Marquette in the butt again. Across the length and breadth of this season, MU has been one of the best shooting teams in the country, and on a night where they were merely fine, the defense got abused by the Bulldogs. Dammit.
Well, maybe “abused” is the wrong term for the full 40 minutes. Both teams had eFG% marks over 53% in the first half, while both went under 47% in the second half. You can definitely make the argument that Butler won this game by posting a 69% eFG% in the first half, easily eclipsing MU’s 54%. Things were much tighter after the break (MU up, 47% to 46%), so that giant first half gap had a giant impact on the game.
Andrew Chrabascz was the poster child for the Butler offense here, going 8-of-11 from the field and splitting a pair of long range shots along the way. He was kind of quiet in the first half, finishing with just eight points before exploding for 13 of his game high 21 points after halftime. For Marquette, the eFG% hero of the game was Markus Howard, who finished with a mark of 61%..... and yet, his five missed shots in this game were all a result of getting blocked while taking the ball to the rim. Kind of a mixed bag there, eh?
Turnover Rate (TO%)
Marquette: 20.8% (This Season: 17.1%, #69)
Butler: 20.1% (This Season: 18.9%, #164)
Here’s where we encounter some dissonance when talking about whether or not Marquette’s defense played well in the game. With Butler turning the ball over more than Marquette’s opponents have on average this season, it deflated the points per possession numbers for the game. Shooting defense bad, turnover defense good. It ended up in a loss, so does it matter?
The other side of it is that Marquette was god awful at holding onto the ball, relative to what they’ve done on the season as a whole. As you can see from that top 60 ranking, MU has been very good at not turning the ball over this season and waaaaay better than they were last season. In this game, however, it was back to the turnover rate that we saw last season with the Golden Eagles turning it over on more than one-fifth of their possessions. That’s bad. All five starters turned it over at least twice, with Markus Howard (three) and Haanif Cheatham (two of his three in the game) combining to fork it over five times in the first half. Is it a coincidence that Butler led by as many as 11 in the first half? No, no it is not.
Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)
Marquette: 30.6% (This Season: 28.6%, #205)
Butler: 22.2% (This Season: 29.0%, #154)
Here’s a real bummer. This was a good rebounding outing for Marquette on both ends of the court, especially on the defensive glass, and it was essentially wasted by the bad shooting defense and the bad ball handling on offense. Luke Fischer was a monster, grabbing up five offensive rebounds and eight on the defensive end to help catapult him to a double-double on the evening, and Sam Hauser had one of his best rebounding nights of his career, ending six Bulldogs possessions with a defensive board.
Butler did get a four offensive rebound performance from Tyler Wideman, but that accounted for a full two-thirds of their total for the entire game, so you can find a way to live with that.
Free Throw Rate (FTR)
Marquette: 15.0% (This Season: 31.4%, #278)
Butler: 27.5% (This Season: 34.9%, #165)
How wild is it that the free throw rates for both teams were so low? Butler’s only got as high as it did because the Bulldogs attempted four freebies in the final 40 seconds of the game. There were just 29 fouls whistled combined between the two sides, with the distribution coming mostly evenly in both halves.