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Marquette Basketball Four Factors: vs Xavier Musketeers

A warning: The eFG% will surprise you.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier 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: 50.8% (This Season: 56.7%, #7)
Xavier: 43.6% (This Season: 52.0%, #240)

Be honest: You did not expect to see Marquette have an eFG% that low. After all, the big item of note from this game was Markus Howard tying the program record for made three-pointers in a game. You’d think that his nine triples (and a personal eFG% of 86%) would cause a huge shockwave of great shooting for the night, but that didn’t happen. The problem is that MU shot just 46% on two-pointers and just 36% on threes as a team. Sam Hauser was 0-for-5, Duane Wilson was 1-of-7 with four misses behind the arc, Andrew Rowsey was 3-of-11 with only one shot inside the arc, and Katin Reinhardt was 1-of-6. There was a lot of really not great shooting nights going on around Howard turning into an NBA Jam character.

The good news is that Marquette did a great job shutting down Xavier. This was the best defensive performance of the Big East schedule so far, and it makes sense that it came against this particular iteration of the Musketeers. No Edmond Sumner (51% eFG%) and no Trevon Bluiett (54% eFG%) meant that Chris Mack’s squad had to go elsewhere for their shooting and a lot of guys had awful nights. Quentin Goodin and Malcolm Bernard combined to go 0-for-9 and J.P. Macura’s attempt at putting the team on his back failed miserably, shooting 3-of-14 from the field and just 1-of-6 from behind the arc. As a team, Xavier shot just 12% from behind the three-point line and missed all eight of their long range attempts in the second half.

Things that will go unnoticed amongst MU’s great defensive effort here: Tyrique Jones and RaShid Gaston were a combined 11-of-16. Marquette may have caught a massive break with Gaston picking up a technical foul right after a moving screen foul before two minutes even ran off the clock, as the big man only ended up playing 22 minutes. Chris Mack pulled him with Marquette up 10 and had no choice but to put him back in with Xavier trailing by 18 mid-way through the half.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 13.3% (This Season: 16.9%, #61)
Xavier: 20.9% (This Season: 18.7%, #178)

Where do I sign up for this performance for the rest of the season? What do I have to sign over to The Devil in order to see this happen over and over again?

Well, hold on. The actual percentage is wonderful. How Marquette got there is not. Haanif Cheatham turned the ball over four times in the game, twice in each half, and that accounts for nearly half of MU’s nine giveaways. If you take the full length of the season into account, Cheatham has been greatly improved in the turnover department from last year. If you look at only the 14 Big East games.... well, he’s basically as bad as he was last year. He’s turned the ball over at least twice in each of the last six games and in seven of the last eight.

The primary focuses of Marquette’s defense here was Malcolm Bernard (four turnovers) and J.P. Macura (three). That’s a rough go of things for Bernard, who also missed his only two shots and only played 19 minutes after injuring his knee in the first half. Bernard did return for five minutes of action in the second half, but contributed only one foul to the box score after halftime.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 39.5% (This Season: 28.5%, #201)
Xavier: 29.7% (This Season: 29.0%, #163)

Marquette’s outstanding effort on the offensive glass here kind of has to be tied to their excellent defensive TO% number in the previous section. Here’s what I mean: Xavier had 14 turnovers in the game, but Marquette had only six steals. A lot of the turnovers were unforced errors. Five of Marquette’s offensive rebounds in this game are labeled as “team” rebounds, which essentially means that they were handed to Marquette by Xavier fumbling a missed MU shot out of bounds before actually gaining possession of it. Those five are a full one-third of their grabs on that end, but we can’t ignore what Matt Heldt did. He had three offensive rebounds in the game before fouling out, which now gives him six outings this season with at least three boards on that end. At what point do we officially label Matt Heldt as “underrated?”

I don’t really have much to say about MU’s defensive rebounding here. Sean O’Mara had a big day for the Musketeers with three offensive rebounds, but that’s about it as far as things that stand out on that side. Sam Hauser (five), Matt Heldt (six), and Haanif Cheatham (seven) carried most of the burden on the defensive glass for MU’s middle or the road performance.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 31.3% (This Season: 31.6%, #279)
Xavier: 34.5% (This Season: 35.3%, #174)

Because I know you’re wondering: If the game went along exactly as it did just without the two technical fouls that resulted in Marquette free throws occurring, MU’s FTR drops to just 25% on the button. The tech shots pushed Marquette towards their season average, but other than that, they were well off their already very low pace. Again, I lament Marquette’s inability to get to the line since they are the sixth best free throw shooting team in the country. Very few attempts, lots of makes. Sigh.