"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, January 09, 2009

Marquette takes on West Virginia

The Warriors of Marquette take on the Prince of Darkness, Evil Incarnate, and a damn fine basketball coach today. I guess that the West Virginia's team will actually play as well. West Virginia is the #2 team according to the Pomeroy rankings, which presently makes them even more dangerous than last year.

Unlike the matchup last year, where WVU pulled away in the second half, this time the battle is on Marquette's home court. Home court isn't everything, however, as it didn't help WVU in their last game, a 61-55 home loss to UConn. Game time is an early 11:00 am tipoff at the Bradley Center.

What is West Virginia good at?

  • Playing Defense – West Virginia is #2 in the country at defensive efficiency, only giving up 0.81 points per possession. Much of this is from limiting three pointers (#2 in the country at 26.6%).
  • Forcing turnovers – West Virginia is #3 in the country at forcing turnovers, where they force opponents into a turnover 28.3% of all possessions.
  • Offensive Rebounding – West Virginia is #4 in the country at offensive rebounding, rebounding a missed field goal 43.7% of the time
Where are they vulnerable?
  • Making Free Throws – West Virginia shoots 63.8% from the charity stripe
  • Shooting three pointers – WVU is #242 in the country at shooting three pointers, averaging 32.1%
  • Letting opponents shoot free throws – West Virginia is #242 in the country at allowing opponents to get to the line. (40% on FTA / FGA)
Pomeroy only gives us a 29% chance of winning this game. However, I calculate a 69% chance of victory. Feel free to pick whichever makes you happier with life.

What do we see as the keys to victory (in order of importance)?
  • Achieve an eFG% of 55% or higher - WVU usually holds opponent to 48% (23 made field goals), which would result in a loss
  • Limit WVU to an eFG% of 47.5% or less - this translates to 26 made field goals (including 7 threes), which is right at their season average
  • Limit WVU to an offensive rebounding percentage of 40% or less - this translates to 16 offensive rebounds, which is one less than their average. (At 21 offensive rebounds, most likely view is WVU wins)
  • Commit turnovers at a rate of 21% or less (~14 turnovers, which is one more than season average) - At 19 turnovers, WVU wins
  • Force WVU into a turnover rate higher than 20.5% - This translates to 14 turnovers, also one higher than their average. Less than 10 turnovers and WVU wins
In an average paced game (67 possessions), Marquette should win due to an advantage on field goal percentage and from the free throw line. WVU should have the advantage on offensive rebounding, and both teams should have an equal amount of turnovers. Marquette should get to the line a lot. The model predicts MU’s offensive efficiency about average but defense worse than average. This will be a tough game, but Marquette should win. The home court will help a great deal in this matchup.

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