#1 - Marquette traded offense for defense and failed.
In mid-January, noted analytics wonk Ken Pomeroy wrote an article for The Athletic, talking about how teams with high functioning offenses but sub-par defenses can improve at getting stops. The short version of it is essentially that the teams can trade effort/energy/whatever you want to call it from the offensive end to the defensive end. You get better at defense, but your offense suffers as a result.
The question, of course, then becomes how much of a trade are you willing to make in order to be a halfway respectable defensive squad. If you have the #1 offense and the #100 defense, would you be willing to drop to #10 on offense in order to become #75 on defense? Seems like a reasonable trade, right? That’s the choice you have to make, if you want to make it at all.
The point here is that Marquette has a top 25 offense and a defense that currently sits at #151 according to Pomeroy’s statistical site. How much of Marquette’s offense are you willing to give up in order to become a passable defense?
Well, the bad news is that over the past five games, Marquette has been (relatively to what we’ve seen so far) godawful on offense and has gotten a grand total of one win to their credit.
Here’s what I mean:
MU Last 5 Efficiency
Ok, yes, the offense against Villanova was absolutely fine, but it’s Villanova, and you need to be AWESOME to beat them. The point is that outside of the DePaul game and the Providence game, the defense has not benefited from Marquette’s offense not performing up to standards.
Against Providence, things came to their horribly awful peak, as Marquette got a defensive performance that should have actually been good enough to win for this team, but the offense wasn’t enough to hold up their end of the deal.
#2 - We have reached the point of no return.
All season long, I have been of the opinion that a record of 11-7 in the Big East would be an absolute lock to make the NCAA tournament. Not just for Marquette, but for anyone in the league. 10-8 would be a “pretty likely” rating, perhaps even “I wouldn’t be that worried about it.”
Marquette is 4-7.
In order to land inside complete and total 100% Lock Town on Selection Sunday morning, Marquette needs to run the table. They could probably survive one loss, as long as that loss is at Seton Hall or at Creighton. Probably. I don’t really want to think about the potential impact of losing to St. John’s on my personal well-being at this point. Anything more than than one loss the rest of the way likely means Marquette will need to win at least a quarterfinal game in the Big East tournament. Three losses? TOURNEY TITLE OR BUST.
#3 - Andrew Rowsey hasn’t connected on a three-pointer in his last two games.
With 1:30 left against Villanova, Andrew Rowsey sank a three-pointer to pull Marquette within three.
He has missed his last five attempts. 0-for-4 against Butler, 0-for-1 against Providence.
At the end of the Villanova game, Rowsey was averaging more than eight three-point attempts per contest. Part of Marquette’s offensive success depends on the redshirt senior being completely dialed in when MU has the ball. The fact that he hasn’t been shooting it as much as he regularly does probably tells you more about defenses taking him out of the game plan than it does Rowsey just not connecting on his shots. As we mentioned above, the Golden Eagles offense is sputtering in a bad way, and Rowsey not sinking triples is a major part of that.