In case you missed the news overnight, senior point guard Dominic James has been cleared to play this afternoon against Missouri. Incredible. Rosiak broke the news from Boise -- apparently James even practiced with the team for 90 minutes.
Nobody can expect James to be in peak physical condition or to control the game on both ends of the floor as much as he did when 100% healthy, but against a Missouri team that can go 11 deep the return of the most indispensable of the Three Amigos could not come at a better time. Bravo, Dominic and the MU medical staff. And hey, Pudner's faith in this team was strong before this news. Of course, we know Rob is optimistic this week.
Tipoff is scheduled for 3:50pm CDT today.
Now let's look at the numbers, starting with Missouri's strengths and weaknesses.
- Forcing turnovers – Missouri is #8 in the country. They force a turnover on one in every four possessions (25.6%). Mizzou forces a steal on almost 15% of all possessions. James' return could help off-set this strength.
- Protecting the ball – Missouri is #12 in the country at protecting the ball. They only turn it over on 16.8% of all possessions.
- Offensive effective Field Goal percentage – Missouri is #42 in the country at eFG%, where they have a percentage of 52.9%
- They make the majority of their points from inside the paint (#29 in the country), where they make 52.5% of their shots
- Defensive eFG% - Missouri is #53 in the country at defensive eFG%. Opponents only achieve an eFG% of 46.3%
- Their perimeter defense is #23 in the country. Opponents only make 30.7% of three point shots
- Fouling – Missouri allows opponents to shoot a free throw rate (FTA / FGA) of 39.3%. This is #242 in the country. This is likely a distinct positive for MU.
- Free throw shooting – Missouri only hits 66.8% of their free throw attempts (#242 in the country)
- Defensive rebounding – Missouri is #229 in the country at defensive rebounding. Opponents achieve an OR% of 34% against them. MU will need to do even better than that to win.
- Make shots (eFG% of 55% or more). This is 30 FGM, or three more than our average. At our average, Marquette loses by four.
- Stop them from making shots (eFG% of 47% or higher). This is 25 FGM, or one less than their average. Least efficient major contributors are JT Tiller (eFG% of 46.3%), Marcus Denmon (eFG% of 48.9%), Zaire Taylor (50.7%), and Leo Lyons (50.7%). Most efficient major contributors are Matt Lawrence (61.3%) and DeMarre Carroll (58.5%). Keep in mind that MU (potentially) adds its most potent defender to the lineup today.
- Get offensive rebounds (OR% of 51% or higher). This is 19 offensive rebounds, or seven more than average. At season average, Marquette loses by eight.
- Combining multiple Recommendations:
- Protect the ball (TO% of 14% or less). That’s 10 turnovers, or two less than averge
- Force turnovers (TO% of 30%). That’s 22 Missouri turnovers, which is eight more than they average.
- Prevent offensive rebounds (Tigers OR% of 18% for a Marquette victory). That’s 7 offensive rebounds, or six less than their average.
- Get to the Free Throw Line. A Free Throw Rate of 50% means Marquette only loses by six
In a fast paced game (73 possessions), Marquette is expected to lose the game by seven points (25% chance of victory). Of course, the model is skewed by MU's performance in the last several weeks without James, and to be fair there's no way to account for his return in the model since we don't know how effective he'll be.
The model predicts that MU will have a slight advantage on offensive rebounds and a modest advantage on free throw rate. Missouri is expected to win the game based on forcing Marquette into more turnovers than normal and by field goal percentage advantage -- but again, perhaps James mitigate the Tigers' effectiveness in these key areas. Today's game is predicted to be more defensively oriented with Marquette being held well under season average and Missouri doing okay offensively but not great.
Oh -- and one last thing about Dominic James........"Don't call it a comeback, I've been here for years."
*Joint post by Tim and Rob