"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Friday, February 21, 2020

Are 8 Big East Bids Possible?

At Christmas, we surmised about the possibility of the Big East setting a record for the highest percentage of teams to make the field, potentially surpassing the 77.8% of teams (7/9) that made the NCAA field from the Big East in 1991. At the time, we projected 9 teams in the field, but that was before league play started.

As usually happens to strong leagues, strong non-con resumes fall by the wayside as leagues cannibalize themselves. That happened to St. John's, who went from 11-2 in non league with two brilliant Quadrant 1A wins over West Virginia and Arizona to 3-10 in league. Two of those Johnnie wins came over DePaul, who were 12-1 in non-con before a miserable 1-12 start to league play and having a Big East Tournament title be their only route into the field of 68.

The one team that we had out in that Christmas projection was Providence, who has gone the opposite direction. While we don't have them in yet, it's a big yet as the Friars now have as many or more Quadrant 1 wins than 11 of the top-16 teams in the field. They did a ton of damage to their resume in November, but if the Selection Committee continues to value good wins over bad losses, Providence will have a chance. Let's take a look at the resumes of teams on the bubble:

Team NET Record Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Xavier 40 17-9 3-8 6-1 4-0 4-0
Georgetown 54 15-11 5-9 4-2 1-0 5-0
Indiana 59 17-9 5-7 2-2 4-0 6-0
Richmond 43 20-6 2-4 2-0 6-2 10-0
Utah State 41 20-7 2-4 2-2 6-1 10-0
Stanford 37 17-9 3-5 2-3 5-1 7-0
Arkansas 48 16-10 2-6 2-4 8-0 4-0
NC State 52 17-9 5-2 3-4 3-3 6-0
Providence 51 15-12 6-8 2-0 3-3 4-1
UNCG 60 20-6 2-2 1-2 5-1 12-1
Cincinnati 55 17-9 2-5 6-0 6-4 3-0
Alabama 44 14-12 2-6 4-4 5-2 3-0

First, I only included Xavier and Georgetown to show the difference between them and current bubble teams. Xavier is clearly ahead and likely needs just two more wins to move to lock status. Georgetown has a little more work to do, especially with a tougher schedule, and needs to go 3-2 the rest of the way to be assured a bid before heading to MSG.

Currently Stanford is our last team in. While Providence is back a little bit, they have more Quadrant 1 wins than anyone else on the bubble. Their losses look bad, but their 4 total losses outside Quadrant 1 are less than or equal to six of the 12 teams here. Considering how frequently bubble teams are taking losses, the Friars definitely have a shot. Let's compare them to some teams that made it into the field last year:

Team NET Record Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Florida '19 31 19-15 4-12 4-1 6-2 5-0
St. Mary's '19 32 22-11 2-6 3-3 8-2 9-0
Providence '20 51 15-12 6-8 2-0 3-3 4-1
Ohio State '19 55 19-14 4-10 5-3 5-1 5-0
Seton Hall '19 57 20-13 7-8 7-3 3-2 3-0
Arizona State '19 63 22-10 3-3 8-3 5-2 6-2
St. John's '19 73 21-12 5-7 5-3 3-2 8-0

Remember, all of the 2019 teams above were IN the field of 68. That was in a year with a stronger bubble than this year. Providence's NET is above average, their Quadrant 1 win total is higher than all but one of these teams. In fact, only one team last year (Indiana) was left out of the field with 6+ Quadrant 1 wins. Indiana's biggest flaw was their 17-15 overall record and 6 losses outside Quadrant 1. While Providence does have a number of Quadrant 3+4 losses it is no more than Arizona State and their loss total outside Quadrant 1 is equal to or lower than 5 of the 6 teams they are being compared to that made last year's field.

While it's still not likely--my gut tells me that six teams is more likely than eight at this point--it isn't impossible that the Big East could land a record 80% of their teams in the field this year, and the last team to get in would be the one team we wrote off for dead before the New Year.

Here's the full S-Curve:

2-Seeds: 8-Creighton 7-Duke 6-DAYTON 5-MARYLAND
3-Seeds: 9-Villanova 10-SETON HALL 11-Florida State 12-LOUISVILLE
4-Seeds: 16-Auburn 15-West Virginia 14-Oregon 13-KENTUCKY
5-Seeds: 17-Penn State 18-Butler 19-Michigan 20-Marquette
6-Seeds: 24-Arizona 23-Michigan State 22-Iowa 21-COLORADO
7-Seeds: 25-Ohio State 26-Wisconsin 27-Byu 28-Illinois
8-Seeds: 32-Texas Tech 31-HOUSTON 30-Xavier 29-Lsu
9-Seeds: 33-Arizona State 34-Rhode Island 35-Rutgers 36-Wichita State
10-Seeds: 40-Florida 39-St. Mary's 38-Usc 37-Georgetown
11-Seeds: 41-Virginia 42-Oklahoma 43-EAST TENNESSEE STATE 44-Indiana/45-Richmond
12-Seeds: 50-VERMONT 49-YALE 48-NORTHERN IOWA 47-Stanford/46-Utah State

Last Four Byes: St. Mary's, Florida, Virginia, Oklahoma
Last Four In: Indiana, Richmond, Utah State, Stanford

NIT 1-Seeds: Arkansas, NC State, Providence, UNC-Greensboro
NIT 2-Seeds: Cincinnati, Alabama, Mississippi State, Purdue

Multibid Leagues
Big 10: 10
Big East: 7
Pac 12: 6
Big 12: 5
SEC: 4
ACC: 4
WCC: 3
Atlantic 10: 3
American: 2
Mountain West: 2

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Marquette's Non-Con Check-In

 Maryland is chasing a 1-seed | Photo by G Fiume - Getty Images

I'm going to use this edition of the S-Curve update to look back at Marquette's non-con opponents, what we said at the time, and where they are now. We'll go chronologically:

Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds (13-14, 5-9 in Patriot League)
NET: 245
kenpom: 262
What we said: "They should be right in the middle of a four-team dogfight for the Patriot League title, though Colgate will be the favorites. If they stay healthy, there is a realistic change for this to be a Quadrant 3 (NET ranking 76-160) game."
What they are: The downside is this team has virtually no chance of being a Quadrant 3 game anymore. However, what we said about health may be the reason. The Greyhounds were without starting center Santiago Aldama for the first 22 games of the season. Since he made his debut, they are 4-1 including a win this past weekend over Patriot League leader Colgate behind 22 points & 8 rebounds from Aldama. They could be a dark horse conference tourney pick.

Purdue Boilermakers (14-12, 7-8 in Big 10)
NET: 33
kenpom: 26
What we said: "I almost certainly think the T-Rank [8th preseason] above is too bullish. Most pundits have the Boilers as a top-half Big 10 team and it seems foolish to not expect them to make the NCAA Tournament. The question is still who will score."
What they are: Despite a mediocre record, the Boilers are still metric darlings and on the bubble for NCAA selection. Today's forecast has them out as 2 wins over .500 simply isn't good enough, but they are very close to being in. The problem has been consistent scoring -- no one is averaging more than Trevion Williams' 11.0 ppg.

UW-Madison Badgers (15-10, 8-6 in Big 10)
NET: 31
kenpom: 28
What we said: "The most likely scenario is a team that is situated right on the bubble throughout the season. Marquette fans should feel cautiously optimistic going into this game. Without Happ, this won't be the same UW-Madison team, but Greg Gard still boasts a .763 winning percentage at the Kohl Center, and visitor wins there rarely come easy."
What they are: After a rocky start, the Badgers are on the right side of the bubble. Nate Reuvers has emerged as an Ethan Happ-lite and a stingy defense and home court has been enough to keep up their mostly winning ways. And while Marquette fans were optimistic heading to the Kohl Center, it's safe to say that day's loss has proven to be more consistent with what this Badger team has become, as they are 11-1 at home this year.

Robert Morris Colonials (15-12, 11-3 in Northeast)
NET: 220
kenpom: 214
What we said: "They have the top-of-the-roster quality and overall depth to be one of the best teams in their league. Is it enough to pull off an upset in Milwaukee? Not likely, but this will likely be a top-half of Quadrant 4 game."
What they are: While RMU is second in the NEC, league leader Merrimack is NCAA Tournament ineligible, so the Colonials are trending toward the 1-seed. They have a huge game at St. Francis (PA) tonight that could decide the team that plays all NEC Tournament games on their home court. The top-half of Q4 prediction looks dead on.

Davidson Wildcats (13-11, 7-5 in A-10)
NET: 78
kenpom: 67
What we said: "This is a team that is going to win 20+ games, has a legit shot at winning their conference, and should be at least in the mix for an at-large berth come Selection Sunday."
What they are: Can we have a do-over on this one? While the Wildcats gave Marquette fits for 35 minutes before Markus Howard finished them off, they never got going and are the most disappointing team on Marquette's non-con schedule in terms of missing expectations. They have trended up of late, but it seems unlikely this will reach the Quadrant 1 status we hoped for before the season.

USC Trojans (19-7, 8-5 in Pac-12)
NET: 49
kenpom: 55
What we said: "Their raw talent will earn them wins but they are projected almost across the board as a middle of the pack Pac-12 team. If it all comes together, they could challenge for an at-large bid, but while they will almost certainly win their first round Advocare matchup with Fairfield, this is a team that Marquette should beat."
What they are: USC is a middle-of-the-pack Pac-12 team, but the league is so logjammed that they are also just one game out of first. Onyeka Okongwu has been a beast, helping this team to challenge for that at-large bid we expected (currently projected in). They did indeed beat Fairfield before falling to Marquette behind Markus Howard's 51-point performance.

Maryland Terrapins (21-4, 11-3 Big 10)
NET: 7
kenpom: 8
What we said: "On paper, they are the best team Marquette could see in the non-conference, but pundits may be underestimating how important Fernando was on both ends of the floor. They will overwhelm some teams with sheer talent, but when it comes to other deep, high-major rosters, someone will have to emerge as a star."
What they are: They are the best team Marquette saw in the non-conference on the court, too. Largely because Jalen Smith is trending towards All-American status and Anthony Cowan has been a stud as a senior. They hammered Marquette in Orlando and are probably the best bet to steal a 1-seed if anyone ahead of them slips thanks to gaudy Q1 numbers and opportunities.

Jacksonville Dolphins (12-15, 5-7 Atlantic Sun)
NET: 250
kenpom: 231
What we said: "Jacksonville is one of the two teams on the schedule that are effectively duds. They are a bottom-half of the Atlantic Sun team and will almost certainly be fighting to stay in the top-300 of NET."
What they are: The Dolphins haven't been great, but have been better than expected. They are right in the middle of the A-Sun and safely inside the top-300 in NET. They aren't a help to Marquette's resume, but are certainly better than some of the lower quality buys we've seen in the past.

Kansas State Wildcats (9-16, 2-10 Big 12)
NET: 95
kenpom: 96
What we said: "To me, K-State feels like a team that is about to fall sharply. Weber has struggled for consistency and his most notable achievement in Manhattan was largely due to benefiting from playing a 16-seed in the second round. They should still be a good defensive team, but I don't think they will be as good as they were last year...Projections have them as a bubble team, but they look more like a NIT team that lacks the firepower to compete for a NCAA bid."
What they are: The Wildcats definitely fell off sharply. They are at the bottom of the Big 12 and seem unlikely to even qualify as a Quadrant 1 road win (top-75). The defense has been better than the offense, but not close to Weber's past teams. Barring a miracle run in the Big 12 Tournament, their only chance of playing in the postseason is if they are paying to for the privilege.

Grambling State Tigers (13-13, 7-6 SWAC)
NET: 305
kenpom: 310
What we said: "As stunning as this is to say, Grambling is going to be good. It might only be "for the SWAC" good, but considering what this program has been for the past 15 years, that is an accomplishment."
What they are: This team definitely has not delivered. We were hoping for a run at the SWAC title, but after a 3-0 league start, they've sputtered, including losing their last two games at league leaders PVAMU and Texas Southern. They are better than the sub-350 RPI Grambling teams of the past, but are still a dud compared to what their roster projected to be in the preseason.

North Dakota State Bison (19-7, 10-2 Summit League)
NET: 131
kenpom: 122
What we said: "The Bison showed promise last year and the table is set for them to win their league and return to the NCAA Tournament. In 5 seasons, Dave Richman has 4 campaigns with 19+ wins and should be confident his team can repeat that feat this year...this is a high-ceiling team that should be a Quadrant 3 opportunity."
What they are: This one we pegged perfectly. The Bison are tied atop the loss column and have already won 19 games while establishing themselves as a Quadrant 3 win for Marquette. They will be one of the favorites to get to the NCAA Tournament from the Summit.

Central Arkansas Bears (9-17, 8-7 Southland)
NET: 309
kenpom: 272
What we said: "I expect them to finish over .500 in league play and contend for a top-half finish. While they will likely be one of the low points on the schedule, when the worst opponents on your schedule look like NET 250-275 opponents, it's a lot better than the 3 average sub-300 opponents MU has faced in Wojo's first 5 seasons."
What they are: The predictive metrics like UCA better than NET, where they are indeed a sub-300 team. They have been unlucky this year, losing 4 games in overtime and another by 1-point to Duke-killers Stephen F Austin. At this point, their ceiling is probably finishing just inside the top-300. 

Let's check out the S-Curve:

2-Seeds: 8-Villanova 7-DAYTON 6-DUKE 5-MARYLAND
3-Seeds: 9-Florida State 10-AUBURN 11-SETON HALL 12-Creighton
4-Seeds: 16-Penn State 15-OREGON 14-Kentucky 13-Louisville
5-Seeds: 17-West Virginia 18-Butler 19-Marquette 20-Colorado
6-Seeds: 24- Michigan 23-Michigan State 22-Iowa 21-Ohio State
7-Seeds: 25-Arizona 26-Lsu 27-Wisconsin 28-Byu
8-Seeds: 32-Rutgers 31-HOUSTON 30-Xavier 29-Illinois
9-Seeds: 33-Texas Tech 34-Georgetown 35-Oklahoma 36-Arizona State
10-Seeds: 40-St. Mary's 39-Wichita State 38-Rhode Island 37-Usc
11-Seeds: 41-NORTHERN IOWA 42-Florida 43-Virginia 44-East Tennessee State/45-Richmond
12-Seeds: 50-VERMONT 49-YALE 48-FURMAN 47-Indiana/46-Utah State

Last Four Byes: Wichita State, St. Mary's, Florida, Virginia
Last Four In: East Tennessee State, Richmond, Utah State, Indiana

NIT 1-Seeds: Cincinnati, Arkansas, Alabama, VCU
NIT 2-Seeds: Stanford, UNC-Greensboro, Mississippi State, NC State

Multibid Leagues 
Big 10: 10
Big East: 7
Big 12: 5
Pac 12: 5
SEC: 4
ACC: 4
WCC: 3
A-10: 3
American: 2
Southern: 2
Mountain West: 2

Monday, February 17, 2020

It's revenge week

It feels like forever since #mubb played but we're here to talk about it and look ahead to a critical week. First, we talk about the results of the Villanova game and why while it wasn't good, it wasn't devastating either. That leads to a discussion of where the Big East stands and how MU might fit in the evolving puzzle of who's on top in the conference. We then talk about Markus Howard, #UsageGod and the #PORPAGATU stat. That ends up in a rather length Howard vs Powell discussion where we try to walk some people back from the Powell is terrible ledge. Lastly, we talk about games this week with two very critical games against Creighton and at Providence, both of whom have already beaten MU. For a light week, we have a lot to talk about. Enjoy! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/z3n93q/scrambledeggs_edit_021620.mp3

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Why Markus Howard is Not (Yet) the NPOY Favorite

Howard was the 2019 Big East Player of the Year | Photo from Big East

We've now examined all the data. Howard's historical season scoring prowess is on par with past National Players of the Year like Glenn Robinson, Kevin Durant, and Doug McDermott. His career scoring is in line with the accomplishments of past National Players of the Year like J.J. Redick and Tyler Hansbrough. His PORPAGATU! score and ranking, which has been the best indicator of NPOY winners since its inception, is similar to past National Players of the Year like Buddy Hield, Frank Mason III, and Zion Williamson. And the most common criticisms of Howard are actually strengths that his critics refuse to acknowledge because they haven't examined his improvement since his freshman year.

So what is it that is keeping Markus Howard from being the clear choice with media members? It's very simple. Marquette only just entered the AP rankings for the first time this season. Here are the current AP rankings of all the NPOY candidates teams as well as their consensus projected NCAA seed according to bracketmatrix.com:

Player Team AP Ranking Consensus Seed
Devon Dotson Kansas 3 1
Malachi Flynn San Diego State 4 1
Jordan Nwora Louisville 5 2
Obi Toppin Dayton 6 2
Vernon Carey Duke 7 2
Myles Powell Seton Hall 10 3
Payton Pritchard Oregon 17 4
Markus Howard Marquette 18 6
Luka Garza Iowa 21 6
Cassius Winston Michigan State UR 5

That's it right there. When Mark Titus asks "why are only MU fans nuts about Howard then? What's the conspiracy?" we have an answer. If Markus Howard was averaging 27.9 ppg for a Marquette team that had been in the top-10 all year and was a consensus top-3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, he would absolutely, unquestionably be running away with the NPOY award the same way Zion Williamson did last year.

Gary Parrish from the Eye on College Basketball podcast | Photo from CBS Sports

Back on Friday, November 15, 2018, Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander were discussing their weekend picks and they had this exchange:

Parrish: Last game, Number 12 Seton Hall...
Norlander: WHAT?!? That's the game you're picking? <Incredulous> That's the game you're picking.
Parrish: Number 12 Seton Hall at St. Louis?
Norlander: Yeah. Why would you pick that game?
Parrish: SLU?
Norlander: No, why would you not take Marquette at Wisconsin?
Parrish: I don't even think I saw it...
Norlander: Oh my gosh, that's OBVIOUSLY the better game. Whatever. You've already, you've already picked the game. Just so people know, Marquette at Wisconsin, 1:00 on Sunday, it's the best game.
Parrish: It is, yes. I see it now.
Norlander: But you've already made your decision, Seton Hall at St. Louis is what we're riding with.
Parrish: Seton Hall at St. Louis, how did I miss Marquette at Wisconsin? This is the problem, when neither one of these teams that should be, that could be ranked in different seasons aren't ranked it gets off your radar a little bit. Which is another reason why, when people say the rankings don't matter, they DO matter, if one of these teams was ranked I would notice the game. Because neither is, I didn't even know it was happening.

The thing that has most harmed Howard's NPOY bid this year is Marquette's team performances in games where they were on the verge of being ranked and lost. Marquette has failed to seal the deal in three games this year (at Wisconsin, Maryland, at Butler) where they would've climbed into the rankings had they won. Their inability to do that has kept Howard out of the spotlight he deserves, reduced the time national media types like Titus and Parrish spend talking about his accomplishments, and increased the likelihood that when Howard was repeatedly willing Marquette to victories with mammoth scoring nights, voter eyes were focused elsewhere.

This week, Marquette climbed into the AP and Coaches' Polls for the first time this season. Ultimately that attention they garner and the seed Marquette earns will determine if Howard is able to capture the NPOY award he so clearly deserves. Let's look at the seeds of NPOY winners over the past 15 years:

Player Team NCAA Seed Year
Zion Williamson Duke 1 2018-19
Jalen Brunson Villanova 1 2017-18
Frank Mason III Kansas 1 2016-17
Buddy Hield Oklahoma 2 2015-16
Frank Kaminsky Wisconsin 1 2014-15
Doug McDermott Creighton 3 2013-14
Trey Burke Michigan 4 2012-13
Anthony Davis Kentucky 1 2011-12
Jimmer Fredette BYU 3 2010-11
Evan Turner Ohio State 2 2009-10
Blake Griffin Oklahoma 2 2008-09
Tyler Hansbrough North Carolina 1 2007-08
Kevin Durant Texas 4 2006-07
J.J. Redick Duke 1 2005-06
Andrew Bogut Utah 6 2004-05

Every NPOY winner came from a single-digit seed. Frankly, if Marquette is a 6-seed or better, Howard should be the winner, but even if they get up to the 4 line the award should go to Howard. The reason for that is simple. First, we already established that based on PORPAGATU! players like Carey, Powell, Nwora, Toppin, Winston, Flynn, and even Dotson would be historically poor choices for the award. That represents every player on the top three seed lines.

Getting ranked was easier for Marquette a year ago | Photo by Dylan Buell - Getty Images

Howard's scoring when considered historically and his PORPAGATU! score means that if things are relatively equal between him, Pritchard, and Garza (the only other viable candidates) then Howard is the most deserving of the NPOY award. To get there, Marquette needs to do two things:

1) Stay ranked: With Marquette being ranked, their presence in games will be enough that the national media personnel who drive the narrative will discuss the team's success. The good news is Marquette is favored (according to Pomeroy) in all six of their remaining games. The bad news is five of those projected wins are by just one possession, so essentially Marquette has to win their 50/50 games to maintain or improve their ranking & keep attention on their star.
2) Earn a single-digit NCAA seed: Right now, Marquette is forecast as the first 6-seed on bracketmatrix.com, just three spots ahead of Luka Garza's Iowa. In a year where the players on the top three seed lines simply are not worthy of the NPOY award, Marquette getting to the 5-line should be enough and earning a 4-seed or better should absolutely make Howard the unquestioned lock to win the NPOY award. But Marquette has to win the games to earn that seed.

And that's it. Win games, get ranked, earn a good seed, and Markus Howard, who is already the obvious NPOY winner based on merit and numbers, will draw the attention he needs to win the award that should already be his.

TL;DR Version:

  • Markus Howard hasn't received the attention he deserves because Marquette has been unranked all season.
  • As Gary Parrish says, "when people say the rankings don't matter, they DO matter."
  • If Marquette earns a 6-seed or better, Howard should win the NPOY award.
  • For Howard to win NPOY, Marquette needs to stay ranked and earn the highest seed they can.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Marquette Quadrant Watch

Despite the Villanova loss this week, Marquette fans have been thinking more positively about the NCAA Tournament as their consensus seed has moved to 6 on bracketmatrix.com, with them showing up as high as a 4-seed in some brackets, entering the top-20 in NET, and enjoying the #18 ranking in the AP Poll.

This time of year, many people will argue that aesthetic changes to the resume, such the 76th best team moving up one in the NET so your road win over them counts as a Quadrant 1 win, is minor and something the Selection Committee will see through. However, let's remember that the Selection Committee is looking at over 100 resumes to evaluate teams both for at-large and automatic selections. Where a win falls is where it falls and the primary difference will be the Quadrant it rests in. Like all metrics, the Quadrant systems form a sorting mechanism and raw numbers are going to determine which pile they are evaluating you with.

For Marquette to move on up, maximizing Quadrant 1 wins, wins over teams in the field, and minimizing losses outside Quadrant 1 are key because those are things that will stand out during conference tournament week. Here are the teams and games that are close to the cutlines and could determine Marquette's fate:

Quadrant 1A (1-6)

  • Seton Hall: The Pirates are the only Q1A team left on Marquette's resume. Getting that win is the biggest "marquee" opportunity available, making it the most valuable resume builder left.
  • Xavier: The Musketeers are currently #44 in the NET, if they improve to #40 they will qualify as an additional Q1A win. The X-Men moving up is the best chance for Marquette to add another Q1A win without having to do anything themselves.
Quadrant 1B (5-0)
  • Purdue: The Boilermakers are ranked #29, just above the #30 cutoff to stay in Quadrant 1. Cheer for them to keep the top-of-the-resume quantity high.
  • USC: The Trojans at #50 are literally the last neutral court Q1 opponent in the NET. Like Purdue, we want them to stay there.
  • Creighton, Providence, DePaul, and St. John's: Marquette has 4 additional Q1 games left on the schedule. Every one is valuable, though not as much as that Seton Hall Senior Day home tilt.
Quadrant 2 (5-1)
  • Georgetown: This is the only potential loss outside Q1 that can be added. This game might be the most crucial after Seton Hall due to not wanting to add any more blemishes to the resume. Any other losses look more "acceptable."
  • Davidson: The Wildcats were a Quadrant 3 win that have worked their way back into Q2 with a #90 NET. The combination of Q1+2 games is often a discussion point, so staying above the #100 cutoff is something Marquette will be hoping for. Getting to Q1 would require them to get to the top-50, which seems like a bridge too far.
Quadrants 3 & 4
  • North Dakota State: The Bison are currently co-leaders in the Summit and will be one of the conference tournament favorites. They are Marquette's only Q3 win and one of the best bets outside the top two tiers for a win over a team in the field.
  • Robert Morris: The Colonials are co-leaders in the NEC, but as the only eligible team up there they are the favorites to host all of their NEC Tournament games. Their only home conference loss is to that ineligible team, so they are putting themselves in good position to give Marquette a win over a team in the field.
  •  Loyola-Maryland: While Grambling and Central Arkansas are placed higher in their leagues, the Greyhounds just got Santi Aldama back from injury. He has moved into the starting lineup and they are 3-1 with him. Possible value pick in the Patriot.
Here's the full S-Cuve:

3-Seeds: 9-AUBURN 10-West Virginia 11-LOUISVILLE 12-Villanova
4-Seeds: 16-OREGON 15-Kentucky 14-Florida State 13-Butler
5-Seeds: 17-Creighton 18-Penn State 19-Marquette 20-Michigan State
6-Seeds: 24-Ohio State 23-Colorado 22-Lsu 21-Iowa
7-Seeds: 25-Michigan 26-Arizona 27-Illinois 28-Texas Tech
8-Seeds: 32-Oklahoma 31-HOUSTON 30-Byu 29-Wisconsin
9-Seeds: 33-Rutgers 34-Xavier 35-Usc 36-Arizona State
10-Seeds: 40-NORTHERN IOWA 39-Wichita State 38-Rhode Island 37-Georgetown
11-Seeds: 41-Indiana 42-St. Mary's 43-Purdue 44-Florida/45-Virginia
12-Seeds: 50-VERMONT 49-YALE 48-FURMAN 47-Arkansas/46-Stanford

Last Four Byes: Wichita State, Indiana, St. Mary's, Purdue
Last Four In: Florida, Virginia, Stanford, Arkansas

NIT 1-Seeds: East Tennessee State, VCU, Richmond, Cincinnati
NIT 2-Seeds: Minnesota, Memphis, NC State, Utah State

Multibid Leagues
Big 10: 11
Big East: 7
Pac 12: 6
Big 12: 5
SEC: 5
ACC: 4
WCC: 3
American: 2
Atlantic 10: 2

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Value Add and KenPom Agree on 3 of 5 All-Big East, and Markus as MVP

Markus Howard moved to MVP of the Big East in Value Add Rankings, worth an extra 9.72
points per game for the 7th best value in the country, while Myles Powell is 13th to also
qualify as an All-American. Ty-Shon Alexander of Creighton just misses All-American
at 18th Nationally, while the Value Add All-Big East team is rounded out by Sean McDermott
of Butler and Paul Reed of DePaul to give the Big East five of the 30 most valuable players
in the country, and Mitch Ballock of Creighton just misses as the 34th best player in the

While our rankings do not include last night's games, www.kenpom.com ratings are through
last night and he ranks Markus as the 2nd best player in the country, and agrees that
Myles Powell is the 2nd best in the conference and that Paul Reed is in the top 5.
However, he rates Kamar Baldwin of Butler and Tyrique Jones of Xavier in his All-Big East
calculations rather than Value Add's calculation of Alexander and McDermott.

Click for the updated Value Add Basketball Rankings. Due to a programming issue, the
www.valueaddbasketball.com website includes past years from 2002 to 2019, but this
season is only on the google sheet. Here are the All-Americans and All-Conference
players followed by an explanation:

Nat'l RnkPlayerTeamValue AddConfHtClass
1Malachi Flynn #22San Diego St.11.36MWC6-foot-1Jr
2Onyeka Okongwu #21USC10.45P126-foot-9Fr
3Devon Dotson #1Kansas10.35B126-foot-2So
4Fatts Russell #1Rhode Island10.1A105-foot-10Jr
5Jordan Roland #12Northeastern9.91CAA6-foot-1Sr
6Payton Pritchard #3Oregon9.84P126-foot-2Sr
7Markus Howard #0Marquette9.72BE5-foot-11Sr
8Loren Cristian Jackson #1Akron9.71MAC5-foot-8Jr
9Jordan Ford #3Saint Mary's9.63WCC6-foot-1Sr
10Daniel Oturu #25Minnesota9.49B106-foot-10So
11Luka Garza #55Iowa9.46B106-foot-11Jr
12Tyrese Haliburton #22Iowa St.9.45B126-foot-5So
13Myles Powell #13Seton Hall9.35BE6-foot-2Sr
14MaCio Teague #31Baylor9.23B126-foot-3Jr
15Devin Vassell #24Florida St.9.21ACC6-foot-7So

Other All-Big East

18Ty-Shon Alexander #5Creighton9.06BE6-foot-4Jr
25Sean McDermott #22Butler8.77BE6-foot-6Sr
30Paul Reed #4DePaul8.33BE6-foot-9Jr
34Mitch Ballock #24Creighton8.19BE6-foot-5Jr
51David Duke #3Providence7.65BE6-foot-5So
59Quincy McKnight #0Seton Hall7.56BE6-foot-4Sr
60Saddiq Bey #41Villanova7.54BE6-foot-8So
65Collin Gillespie #2Villanova7.4BE6-foot-3Jr
67Tyrique Jones #4Xavier7.32BE6-foot-9Sr
129Omer Yurtseven #44Georgetown6.11BE7-foot-0Sr
132Marcus Zegarowski #11Creighton6.04BE6-foot-2So
142Kamar Baldwin #3Butler5.89BE6-foot-1Sr
166Bryce Nze #10Butler5.66BE6-foot-7Jr

In the Notes field find the position of each player (PG, SG, SF, PF or C) which is based
on the position most played according to www.kenpom.com, or if they had not played
in the past five games to appear on his list, their position is based on height. Since we
added the positions since the mid-January ratings, we calculated the position-by-position
adjustment based on the average Value Add rating of the top 100 players at each position.
Therefore Point Guards (PG) Value Add calculations were then multiplied by 1.02, Shooting
Guards (SG) 1.25, Small Forward (SF) 1.07, Power Forwards (PF) 0.97 and Centers (C) 0.83.

This is similar to adjustments most years, however, the past few years the “freedom of movement”
rules seemed to level the ratings by position and there was no need for adjustment the last few

In the notes, we also list if each player is a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd team All-Conference player with
the MVP of each conference noted. Also in the Notes Field, we list the team’s record and how
many games the player had started when we ran the rankings so you can figure out if a recent
game was included. 

The overall Value Add indicates how many points per game the player would include an
average team if he joined, while the AdjO indicates how many points he would improve their
scoring and the AdjD indicating how many points he would take away from opponents if he
joined an average team (minus is good, taking points away, while a positive number is bad
indicating he would allow additional points).

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The National Player of the Year Metric

Markus Howard, National PORPAGATU! Champ | Photo by Brian Fluharty - USA Today

In terms of advanced stats, the general consensus is that Ken Pomeroy's website is king. But while I'm a huge fan of kenpom.com, if you are looking for the National Player of the Year, the site to go to is that of Bart Torvik.

On barttorvik.com, players are sorted by PORPAGATU!, and no metric has been more accurate in picking NPOY winners than that one. If your response to hearing PORPAGATU is "God bless you" you can find a more detailed description at Big Ten Geeks. For a basic definition, PORPAGATU! translates to "Points Over Replacement Per Adjusted Game At That Usage!" with the exclamation point included to reinforce how much more difficult it is to produce high levels of efficiency at high usage rates. Essentially, it's the basketball equivalent of WAR, the baseball metric for Wins Above Replacement. It tells you how much better (or worse) a given player is than if you put the average player in their position and asked them to replicate their usage.

To first determine why PORPAGATU! is such a crucial metric when evaluating the National Player of the Year race, let's look at the history of the NPOY winners since the metric came into use in 2008. In the table, I will shorten PORPAGATU! to "P" to make it easier to read.

Player P Score P Rank Usage Year
Zion Williamson 6.9 1st 28.2 2018-19
Jalen Brunson 6.4 2nd 26.1 2017-18
Frank Mason III 6.9 1st 25.5 2016-17
Buddy Hield 6.8 1st 28.4 2015-16
Frank Kaminsky 7.4 1st 28.1 2014-15
Doug McDermott 7.5 1st 32.8 2013-14
Trey Burke 7.3 2nd 28.9 2012-13
Anthony Davis 6.1 7th 19.1 2011-12
Jimmer Fredette 7.4 3rd 36.6 2010-11
Evan Turner 6.2 4th 34.5 2009-10
Blake Griffin 6.4 5th 31.1 2008-09
Tyler Hansbrough 6.8 3rd 26.6 2007-08

Looking at that, it should be pretty easy to see why I refer to PORPAGATU! as the NPOY Metric. Five of the last six NPOY winners ranked 1st nationally in PORPAGATU! All of the past seven winners were ranked no lower than 2nd in the nation.There is simply no single metric that is better at predicting the NPOY winner.

The highest PORPAGATU! ranked player on a single-digit seed has won
7 straight NPOY awards | Photo by Jeff Hanisch - USA Today 

In the history of the ranking, no one has won NPOY with a PORPAGATU! score below 6.1 or a ranking worse than 7th. So how do this year's NPOY candidates stack up? Let's take a look:

Player School P Score P Rank Usage
Markus Howard Marquette 6.7 1st 37.9
Payton Pritchard Oregon 6.4 2nd 28.1
Luka Garza Iowa 6.1 4th 30.3
Devon Dotson Kansas 5.7 6th 27.2
Malachi Flynn San Diego State 5.4 15th 25.6
Jordan Nwora Louisville 5.2 18th 26.5
Obi Toppin Dayton 5.2 19th 25.7
Cassius Winston Michigan State 5.1 23rd 30.2
Myles Powell Seton Hall 4.7 44th 33.7
Vernon Carey Jr Duke 4.3 68th 30.3

Looking at this list, a few things immediately become evident. It's clear there are only three players can even make a case for the NPOY award: Markus Howard, Payton Pritchard, and Luka Garza. Anyone outside of those three would be historically bad NPOY choices. While it could be argued that NPOY is about a combination of individual merit and team success, it is also the award that goes to a player who can be agreed on as one of the best in the country. It feels like a pretty tough sell to argue 15th ranked Malachi Flynn, much less someone outside the top-20.

It's also worth considering the factors surrounding the NPOY winners in the past 7 years that wasn't the PORPAGATU! king. The 2013 leader was Erick Green, who played for a 13-19 Virginia Tech team that missed the tournament, which opened the door for PORPAGATU! #2 Tre Burke. The 2018 leader was Trae Young, who fell out of favor during a six game losing streak that dropped Oklahoma to a 10-seed and allowed Jalen Brunson to win the award. In the past 7 years, the highest rated PORPAGATU! player in the country that played on a single-digit seed won the NPOY award. Every single time.

It's also worth noting the importance of the "At That Usage!" portion of the metric. Remember, the higher the player usage, the harder that player is to replace. So while Payton Pritchard and Luka Garza are having nice seasons and would be difficult to replace, it is far easier to replace a player with their usage rates than a player like Howard who is carrying a bigger load for his team, commanding more defensive attention, and still managing to be more valuable than any other player in the country.

Fellow Marquette blog Paint Touches noted on Twitter yesterday "it feels like Markus hasn't really been himself the last month or so" with a link to the recent PORPAGATU! chart. One of the great things about Bart Torvik's website is the ability to focus in on exact portions of the season. Here are the PORPAGATU! rankings for the country from January 12 to February 12:

PORPAGATU! standings from January 12, 2020 to February 12, 2020

Over the past 7 games for Marquette, Markus Howard is playing at a level that exceeds that of any player in the history of the PORPAGATU! measurement. Not only that, but none of the other NPOY favorites have even been ranked in the top-10 over that span (Garza is closest at 12th). What Howard is doing borders on unbelievable, and he's posted those numbers while "only" posting 40+ points once in that span (admittedly, as many times as the rest of the NPOY field has posted 40+ combined).

I mentioned in the scoring article that Howard commanded more defensive attention than any other NPOY candidate. It's time for the evidence to prove that. This next PORPAGATU! table looks at the "next best" players on each of the teams with NPOY candidates. After all, winning is easier when you have multiple stars. Here are PORPAGATU! scores of the 2nd ranked player on each NPOY candidate's team (or in one case...the 1st ranked player).

Player School P Score Usage
Jalen Crutcher Dayton 4.8 21.9
Joe Wieskamp Iowa 4.4 20.9
Tre Jones Duke 4.3 24.6
Xavier Tillman Michigan State 4.3 21.8
Chris Duarte Oregon 4.1 23.4
Udoka Azubuike Kansas 3.8 21.9
Dwayne Sutton Louisville 3.8 14.7
Quincy McKnight Seton Hall 3.7 21.7
Matt Mitchell San Diego State 3.4 23.5
Sacar Anim Marquette 2.6 19.6

The first thing I notice is that Tre Jones has the same P Score as Carey, so if you aren't even clearly the best player on your team, how are you in the NPOY race? Regardless, every team has at least one player besides their NPOY candidate who has a higher PORPAGATU! than Marquette's second best player, Sacar Anim. If you dig into the barttorvik.com database, you will find that in actuality, every team here except Seton Hall has TWO players who have a higher PORPAGATU! than Anim.

Sacar Anim's 2.7 PORPAGATU! is the lowest for NPOY sidekicks | Photo from Marquette Athletics

Not only is Markus Howard clearly the best NPOY candidate based on the best predictive NPOY metric, but he is performing at this level without the complementary production level the lesser NPOY candidates have. While guys like Anim, Brendan Bailey, and Koby McEwen have been able to step up at times in isolated games, Howard simply does not have the level of a consistent complementary performer that every other NPOY candidate has.

When one considers the value Howard brings compared to everyone else mentioned for the NPOY award, there's simply no comparison. Howard is not only the most valuable player in the country, he's performing as such without the level of contributions from teammates that other candidates receive on a nightly basis. In addition to that, as conference play heats up, Howard is playing at a level no other player has been able to sustain over the course of a season. This year, he's the only player in the nation who can be mentioned in the same breath as players like Zion Williamson, Frank Mason, and Buddy Hield while keeping a straight face. There are certainly some other good players out there, but in a year when the consensus is that college basketball is down, there is only one truly elite player worthy of National Player of the Year, and that player is Markus Howard of Marquette.

TL;DR Version:

  • Howard's 6.7 PORPAGATU! score leads the country; the PORPAGATU! leader has won 5 of the last 6 NPOY awards.
  • The top PORPAGATU! ranked player for a single-digit seed has won NPOY for 7 straight years.
  • No one has ever won NPOY with a PORPAGATU! score lower than 6.1 or ranked lower than 7th; Howard, Payton Pritchard, and Luka Garza are the only players to meet that criteria.
  • Howard's 8.3 PORPAGATU! score over the past month is higher than the highest full-season rating in history and represents the only NPOY candidate listed in the top-10 in that span.
  • Sacar Anim's 2.6 PORPAGATU! is the lowest of the "next best" player on any NPOY candidate's team & every team except Seton Hall has multiple supporting cast players with PORPAGATU! scores higher than Anim.