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Four Factors: Marquette vs Wisconsin

Marquette lost on the road to a top 10 team by six points. This is okay on the surface. If we go deeper, were there any significant failures that caused the loss?

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

If you're not familiar with the Four Factors as featured on, 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 labelled "Season." The first number is Marquette's either offensive or defensive totals for the year, the second is Marquette's national rankings in those statistics. Both season long numbers are provided by

Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)

Marquette: 45.7% (Season: 46.1%, #274)
Wisconsin: 46.4% (Season: 45.0%, #53)

I can't be excited by Marquette's shooting in this game, because it's lower than their already low season mark, but it's just barely lower, so I'm not going to panic either. What is very troubling is that MU's eFG% for the first 37:52 of the game is 38.0%. That final flurry at the end of the game included Marquette suddenly getting supernova hot, making six of their eight attempts, including three of five behind the arc. Those three point makes are the ONLY three point makes for the entire game for Marquette.

Turnover Rate (TO%)

Marquette: 14.4% (Season: 17.4%, #119)
Wisconsin: 10.2% (Season: 18.3%, #172)

Upside: YAY LESS TURNING IT OVER! Downside: BOO NOT ENOUGH TAKING IT AWAY. Even-handed counterpoint: This is exactly how Wisconsin operates: The Badgers don't give it away easily and they don't take it away from you, either. Wisconsin had just one turnover in the second half, so go ahead and bang your head against the nearest hard surface about what if MU had forced just two more turnovers.

Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR%)

Marquette: 36.7% (Season: 38.7%, #25)
Wisconsin: 36.1% (Season: 30.2%, #115)

Considering that Wisconsin's actually a lousy offensive rebounding team, this sucks. Their season average for OR% (29.0%) is almost perfectly inline with what Marquette allows on a regular basis, it's borderline inexcuseable that the Badgers were allowed to get to so many of their own misses. Marquette had a two point advantage on second chance points, 15-13, so perhaps it wasn't that big of a deal. Unfortunately, the way Wisconsin operates, i.e. 3rd longest average possession in the country, giving them a second chance usually ends up with you playing defense for nearly a full minute.

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

Marquette: 24.1% (Season: 45.3%, #100)
Wisconsin: 41.8% (Season: 36.4%, #95)

Hey, here's a stunner for you: Wisconsin doesn't foul anyone. Ignore how much of a downshift from Marquette's usual FTR, that's actually a lower FTR than Wisconsin usually allows. Considering that Marquette essentially got nothing from Derrick Wilson and Jake Thomas in this game, it's dumbfounding that Marquette wasn't able to draw fouls with Chris Otule and Davante Gardner combining to shoot 10-20 in the game. But that's what Wisconsin did. On the other side of the ball, well, that's what happens when you start fouling late in the game. Wisconsin shot 11 of their 16 second half free throws after Frank Kaminsky hit that dagger of a three pointer to push the lead back to six points with 93 seconds left. Wipe those off the board, and Marquette has a FTR of 21.8%, which is CRAZY GOOD. Keep playing like that, guys.