"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, March 09, 2012

Sweet 16? Marquette's best and worst likely 1st and 2nd round match-ups

After watching Louisville grab 50% of their missed shots vs. Marquette and then destroy Notre Dame, two things should be key to surviving the first weekend to go to the Sweet 16. First, as the only great defensive rebounder on the 30th worst defensive rebounding team in the country, Jae Crowder cannot afford early fouls. Second, we should hope MU does not draw a team that dominates the offensive glass.

I posted a link listing (click here) on how tough each potential tournament team should be based on several key factors - basically 34 or higher likely wins their first game, 38 or higher is likely Sweet 16, and 42 or higher is likely Elite 8. Below is list just the most likely 1st and 2nd round opponents, so we would hope for a lower total number and a lower offensive rebounding percentage in the far right column.

Good, bad, ok 1st Rd match-upsConfSeasonTalent top 3Exp. GuardsHot or InjTotalOff Reb
Akron (good)MAC106542534.1
Belmont (bad)ASun1641083834.5
Brigham Young (good)WCC123522230.5
Davidson (good)SC114652635
Drexel (ok)CAA134562833.8
Mississippi St. (ok)SEC911923132.5
Montana (good)BSky94772728.1
Nevada (good)WAC85452235
South Dakota St. (good)Sum121752530.6
Texas (bad)B12158453237.9

Same for likely 2nd roundConfSeasonTalent top 3Exp. GuardsHot or InjTotalOff Reb
Creighton (good)MVC1461033331.6
Florida (ok)SEC1610833734.6
Florida St. (bad)ACC1591074136
Indiana (bad)B101881064235.3
Murray St. (good)OVC136753134.9
UNLV (good)MWC1581023533.5
Temple (good)A10145983631.4
Wichita St. (ok)MVC1851074033.4

So Belmont and Texas would be scary first round games, and if Mississippi State makes the tourney, they would be the one 1st round team with a lot more talent than Marquette. I hate to say it, but Indiana along with Florida State look like by far the toughest 2nd round games we could draw - but any other match-ups look manageable.

MU strong in 7 of 8 Offensive/Defensive Four Factors

MU is strong on both offensive and defense in shooting, turnovers and getting to the line, and a strong offensive rebounding team. That leaves defensive rebounding as the only weakness. Ironically Marquette and Syracuse are the only of the bottom 30 defensive rebounding teams in the tournament.

While the team grabs a total of 63.6% of opponent’s misses, Crowder gets more than 20% by himself when in the game:
1. Crowder 20.3% (top few percent of all players)
2. Otule 16.7% (obviously out)
3. Gardner 15.9% (he grabs 15.9% of offensive misses too, one of only 9 such players to be more likely to grab and MU miss than an opponent’s miss)
4. Jones 13.7%
5. Blue 11.1%
6. J. Wilson 10.5%
7. D. Wilson 9.4%
8. DJO 9.2%
9. Mayo 8.5%
10. Cadougan 6.4%

So you can see why if Crowder is on the bench, or even having to play tentative with early fouls, Marquette is virtually helpless on the defensive glass.

Draw the right opponent and keep Crowder aggressive and out of foul trouble and MU could repeat last year's very unexpected Sweet 16 run. Draw the wrong opponent and get Crowder in foul trouble, and it will be very difficult.

Marquette has played poorly in five of their last 6 games against a team in the Top 20 in offensive rebounding (over 37.5%), with West Virginia being the exception. However, in most other games, Marquette has played at a Sweet 16 level.

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