Improved Scheduling Helped Marquette Reach 2016-17 Tourney
On Selection Sunday, Marquette had an RPI of 61. If the largest component of RPI – opponents’ win-loss performance against all D-I teams except MU – would have been the same as 2015-16, Marquette would have had an RPI that was .0224 lower, slotting them at 82 in the RPI and likely out of the NCAA tournament.
The Warriors’ strength of schedule ranked them 219 of 351 teams as of Selection Sunday this season. This was a sizable improvement from 326 in 2015-16.
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Markus Howard Compared to Rivals’ Top Freshmen List
Rivals.com released their ‘top ten freshman’ to date and added another seven who they felt were in the conversation. Neither of Marquette’s freshmen were included, but both have enjoyed strong year one campaigns.
Sam Hauser, who sports a top-40 offensive rating, doesn’t make the cut because of his low usage. Markus Howard has a great argument for inclusion, but his minutes played are a bit low compared to the Rivals’ group.
Here’s the list, along with each player’s respective offensive rating and usage (per KenPom.com):
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Marquette’s Catch & Shoot Defense: Unlucky?
There is no denying that Marquette’s defense has been poor this season. One of the uglier stats has been 3FG% allowed, which is now at 38.4%, ranking the team at #315 is the nation.
In Big East play, things have only gotten worse as MU’s opponents are converting 40.1% of their 3-point attempts.
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Marquette’s Dramatic 3FG% & 3FGA/FGA Improvement
Prior to the season tipping off we explained that in order for Marquette to be good, they needed to improve their eFG% differential and that they had the potential to improve their turnover rate differential. So far, so good.
We said, “A net improvement of 2.5% in eFG% differential means a +5.8% and places Marquette in or around the top 35 of eFG% differential, by far the most important of the four factors. Do that, and they are in business even without improvement in rebounding.”
As of today, Marquette has 6.7% eFG% advantage over their opponents (57.9% to 51.2%).
Their offensive eFG% is fifth-best in the nation and 5.9% higher than last year’s respectable 52.0%.
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Marquette’s Defensive Rebounding Remains Strong Despite Size
Entering the 2016-17 season, many were concerned with Marquette’s defensive rebounding and with good reason. A year ago, MU ranked just #225 in defensive rebounding percentage after allowing opponents to rebound 30.7% of their misses. The Warriors also lost their top defensive rebounder Henry Ellenson (24.1% DR%) to the NBA.
Marquette allowed nonconference opponents an OR% of greater than 30.0% eight times in 13 games last season. In 12 nonconference games this year, Marquette has done so only once (IUPUI – 33.3%). MU’s is allowing an opponent OR% of 25.5% – good for #43 in the nation. The two top OR% teams MU has faced were uw-madison (avg 38.9%; against MU had just 29.6%) and Georgia (33.2% avg; 22.9%).
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Four Factors Differentials in 2015-16; Marquette in 2016-17
This article serves two purposes: (1) it’s a reminder of what matters the most – effective field goal percentage; and, (2) it offers commentary on ways Marquette might improve compared to last season.
Let’s take a somewhat different-than-normal look at what matters to a team’s success. Below you’ll find a graph for each of the four factors that illustrate, by team, the differential in each of the factors vs. their overall KenPom team ranking (adjusted efficiency margin) for the 2015-16 season.
Free Throw Rate
Below shows each team’s free throw rate (“FTR”) differential (offensive FTR minus defensive FTR) on the y-axis and their KenPom ranking on the x-axis. You’ll see Marquette indicated by a red diamond (a 12.5 FTR differential and a 97 team ranking).
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Three Freshmen Guards We Can’t Doubt
5’10”, 165 pounds…5’11”, 175 pounds…5’7″, 150 pounds… once you get past their freshman designation, height and weight, these are three guards who look great on paper.
Our statistical analysis says these guys will be very good college players. Our in person evaluations of the same guys over the years supports the stats. We’ll be monitoring their performance and progression throughout the year as they provide good tests for our evaluation methodology and beliefs.
Jared Harper, Auburn
Harper’s numbers with the Georgia Stars as a rising senior were phenomenal. When you first see him step on the court, there’s nothing physically that would indicate greatness. But, it becomes quickly apparent through his high usage, high efficiency game that he is a potential gem.
The Georgia Stars certainly were a talent team and Harper benefited from his supporting cast, including bruisers on the blocks, but the year prior with a different type of roster, Harper shined playing up for Southern Stampede.
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