"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, December 07, 2007

MU vs. UW - Looking at the Numbers

The folks at Cracked Sidewalks were kind enough to invite me to join and provide my perspective at Marquette basketball. Therefore, we wanted to start things off by looking at the numbers behind the Wisconsin game. Also, please note that all numbers come from Pomeroy's site.

First, starting with Pomeroy's 2008 Ratings, one can see that he has both Marquette and Wisconsin rated as top 10 teams. Unfortunately for the good guys, UW gets the bragging rights by being rated as #7 and we follow just behind at #8. The initial view is that it's a classic Offense (MU's AdjO is #3) vs. Defense (UW's AdjD is #2) matchup. Wisconsin gets fairly low ratings on Consistency, however (rated 330), which means that they do better against worse teams than they do against good teams. Plus, Marquette has a higher rating on strength of schedule. Let's award the initial round to Marquette in a slight nod.

The four factors are from Dean Oliver and they can be explained here. However, let's take a few minutes to describe the four factors since this is my first post.

  • Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) - It's like standard FG%, but takes the extra value of a three point shot into consideration. The equation is (FGM + 0.5*3PM) / FGA.
  • Turnover Percentage (TO%) - Turnovers per Possessions. A possession is any action by a player or team that ends the action on that end of the floor (FGA, turnover). Possessions are key for lots of the tempo-free stats, so the equation is Possession = FGA-OR+TO+0.475xFTA
  • Offensive Rebounding Percentage (OR%) - This is actually a question of the percentage of total offensive rebounding opportunities that a team pulls down. The equation is OR% = OR / (OR + Opponent's Defensive Rebounds)
  • Free Throw Rate (FT Rate) - As Pomeroy says, " This can either be FTM/FGA or FTA/FGA. Typically, for team offense FTM/FGA is used, while on defense FTA/FGA is used."
Digging into the four factors analysis for Wisconsin a little more, we can see the following:

Wisconsin gets very high marks on how they limit their opponents' eFG% and OR%. Not only that, but Wisconsin is a top 10% team for their Turnover %, OR%, and FT Rate defense. About the only areas that UW isn't fairly outstanding are in their own eFG% and their own FT Rate.

Trading that against Marquette, and we can see:

Marquette is a top 10% team in terms of their own eFG% and their TO%. However, MU is decent (top 15%) for OR% and then average at best on defense. We're going to have to score round two to Wisconsin pretty clearly.

Finally, looking at the 2008 game plans for both Wisconsin and Marquette, we can look at the gritty details. What does Wisconsin need to do to win?
  • Get their eFG% at a high rate. UW is average at this. MU's eFG% defense is average.
    • Advantage - Push
  • Need to limit Marquette's eFG%. UW is outstanding at eFG%, having limited five of seven opponents to an eFG% under 40%. On the other hand, this is Marquette's strength.
    • Advantage - Slight UW
  • Need to keep Marquette off the Offensive Glass. UW is also outstanding at this, having held six of seven opponents under 26% (note Duke as the sole exception). As a counter, Marquette has been above 26% for OR% all times but one, and that was 25.7%.
    • Advantage - Push
  • Wisconsin needs to force a lot of turnovers. UW is ranked 43 nationally, but four of UW's opponents were average (20%) and the other three were high (>30%). This is also an area where Marquette has been very good. Four of the six times MU has played, they have kept their turnover rate <17%,>
    • Advantage - Slight MU
What does Marquette need to do?
  • MU needs to keep their eFG% at a high rate (covered above - Push)
  • MU needs to keep UW's eFG% down (covered above - Push)
Final Conclusion - Push

Yes, it's a copout, but beyond just a matchup in style, it really does appear that the two teams match up very well with each other. There isn't a noticeable difference for either team on the four factors, so it's going to be very interesting seeing how these two teams go after each other and which factors win out.

Is it Saturday yet?

*edit - revised pictures of the four factors for UW and MU ; misc formatting


Anonymous said...

Very nice job, Mr. Sugar!

Anonymous said...

An interesting mechanical way to look at the game - certainly this is how they manage in Baseball. I'd be curious to see if the games statistical results match up with your keys to success.

Overall a good read.

Any relation to Bob Sugar?

MURahRah said...

I think the CS boys need to check into the real identity of Henry Sugar... this has got to be Freeway!

Nice review.

Anonymous said...

As Al used to say, The MU-UW game will be decided by the speed of the wistle. Quick wistle, UW wins. (See the Duke game.) Slow Wistle, its all MU. Marquette can only combat the size with aggressive play, and its those all turn into fouls, we're lost.

Anonymous said...

Pour some Sugar on me...

good work

Anonymous said...

Welcome aboard. Numbers make my head spin, but not in a good way like Miller High Life.