"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

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Yes, MU Can Beat a No. 1 Saturday and Make Tournament

Just before Christmas I calculated the Sagarin numbers gave MU a 3.2% chance of getting the 23 wins they needed to make the NCAA tournament. I was pretty brutal on us having no chance at Villanova despite the win at Providence.

Now MU has a chance to not only beat a No. 1 ranked team for the only time except for Wade vs. Kentucky, but to then win three more games and sneak in with a bid.

Going back to Sagarin, MU's result last night was what we would expect out of the No. 7 team in the country. To determine a Sagarin rating just for one game you take the venue (+3 for MU on the road tonight), add the opponent's Sagarin rating (83 for Creighton to get to 86), then add or subtract the victory or loss margin (+5 for the 66-61 win for Creighton) and Marquette's total 91 Sagarin Rating would make MU the seventh best team in the country.

Here is the trick - Villanova is only one better at 92, so if MU played as well as they did last night on Saturday with the three-point home court advantage and Villanova plays an average game for them- MU wins by two points.

The first rub here is the MU has to repeat it's best performance of the year, and the only other time they were close was their 89 Sagarin rating for the win at Wisconsin. The 88 for DePaul looks close, but at www.valueaddbasketball.com Billy Garrett is worth four points a game, so that is really about an "84" for the win at DePaul.

The second rub is that MU is the rare team that so far has played better away from home than at home. MU averages an 82.1 away from the Bradley Center which would make MU the 50th best team in the country. In games at the Bradley Center (throwing out the cupcakes ranked lower than St. John's) MU's averaging Sagarin Ranking is 72.4, which would make them only the 148th best team in the country. Can MU repeat tonight and do it at home. Here are the Sagarin scores from best to worst both at home and on the road. In the home losses to Iowa and Seton Hall, MU played like the 319th best team in the country.

ElsewhereResVenOppScoreAllowRank (82.1, 50th)
Arizona St.W080787385
St. John'sW369787377
Seton HallL384627970
BradleyResVenOppScoreAllowRank (72.4, 148th)
St. John'sW-369817572
Seton HallL-384638361

Now we get to the Value Add match-ups. I included the players from each Big East team that have a chance at the NBA and/or improve their team by at least two points. Obviously Villanova's overall Value Add is much better than MU's - only Michigan State with Valentine playing ranks higher.

But once again, Villanova does not have those couple of dominating players that you would normally face in a No. 1 team - the guys who can just dominate you. Josh Hart is their highest ranked player at 60th, and he has about the same chance of making the NBA as Luke Fischer does.

So while Villanova has the four highest Value Add rankings on the court, none are near All-American level and in fact the MU has the best player on the court and Fischer might be the second best.

Yes, there is one huge issue - MU's turnovers and Nova's ability to force turnovers. MU could get obliterated into 20 turnovers, but if Henry can help get the ball up there is are nice mismatches near the hoop.

So yes, Saturday history could be made for a win over a team that is No. 1 and if that is accomplished the possibility of winning vs. Georgetown, at Butler and a win as a 4-seed against Butler or Providence in the Big East tournament is real.

At that point, MU finishes 22-11 with an RPI of 71 even assuming a second round loss to a No. 1 seed Xavier or Villanova. I said at Christmas we needed 23 wins one way or the other, but 22 wins on a resume that includes winning six of the last seven including a win over a No. 1, roughly a 6-6 record against the RPI top 50 (Butler and Providence are borderline, so it could be 8-6 to 3-6) and finishing in the top four of one of the top RPI conferences would make MU a late addition on Selection Sunday.

Winning six in a row is rare in basketball, but with two down and the toughest one of the six Saturday, we have a chance.

RankNBA prosp or Value 2+TeamPosValue AddNBA%
272Fischer, Luke 40MarquetteC4.4635%
308Ellenson, Henry 13MarquettePF4.2591%
862Johnson, JaJuan 23MarquetteSF2.4621%
932Cohen, Sandy 5MarquetteSG2.3
957Wilson, Duane 1MarquettePG2.25
1099Cheatham, Haanif 25MarquetteSG1.9516%
60Hart, Josh 3VillanovaPF6.4436%
154Arcidiacono, Ryan 15VillanovaPG5.3211%
174Ochefu, Daniel 23VillanovaC5.1820%
239Jenkins, Kris 2VillanovaSG4.58
460Bridges, Mikal 25VillanovaPF3.6618%
660Brunson, Jalen 1VillanovaPG3.0133%
1011Reynolds, Darryl 45VillanovaPF2.14
1423Booth, Phil 5VillanovaPG1.3426%
153Jones, Roosevelt 21ButlerSG5.34
271Martin, Kelan 30ButlerC4.4716%
329Dunham, Kellen 24ButlerSG4.1525%
429Chrabascz, Andrew 45ButlerSG3.75
497Wideman, Tyler 4ButlerC3.54
292Groselle, Geoffrey 41CreightonC4.35
293Watson, Maurice 10CreightonPG4.3416%
319Zierden, Isaiah 21CreightonSG4.2
788Huff, Cole 13CreightonC2.62
858Hanson, Zach 40CreightonC2.47
984Thomas, Khyri 2CreightonPF2.18
231Henry, Myke 4DePaulPF4.62
383Garrett, Billy 5DePaulPG3.92
813Hamilton, Tommy 2DePaulC2.5728%
66Smith-Rivera, D'Vauntes 4GeorgetownPG6.317%
554Peak, LJ 0GeorgetownSG3.3324%
823Copeland, Isaac 11GeorgetownPF2.5635%
947Hayes, Bradley 42GeorgetownC2.27
991Govan, Jessie 15GeorgetownPF2.1735%
1216Derrickson, Marcus 24GeorgetownSF1.6818%
9999White, Paul 13GeorgetownSF029%
42Bentil, Ben 0ProvidencePF6.918%
54Dunn, Kris 3ProvidencePG6.5294%
525Bullock, Rodney 5ProvidenceC3.44
137Rodriguez, Desi 20Seton HallSF5.49
270Whitehead, Isaiah 15Seton HallPG4.4732%
304Delgado, Angel 31Seton HallC4.2826%
377Carrington, Khadeen 0Seton HallSG3.94
709Sanogo, Ismael 14Seton HallPF2.89
1258Sima, Yankuba 35St. John'sPF1.6225%
158Bluiett, Trevon 5XavierSF5.2936%
267Farr, James 2XavierC4.48
335Davis, Myles 15XavierPG4.13
349Macura, JP 55XavierPG4.06
535Sumner, Edmond 4XavierPG3.3821%
691Reynolds, Jalen 1XavierC2.9435%

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