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.
|Elsewhere||Res||Ven||Opp||Score||Allow||Rank (82.1, 50th)|
|Bradley||Res||Ven||Opp||Score||Allow||Rank (72.4, 148th)|
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.
|Rank||NBA prosp or Value 2+||Team||Pos||Value Add||NBA%|
|272||Fischer, Luke 40||Marquette||C||4.46||35%|
|308||Ellenson, Henry 13||Marquette||PF||4.25||91%|
|862||Johnson, JaJuan 23||Marquette||SF||2.46||21%|
|932||Cohen, Sandy 5||Marquette||SG||2.3|
|957||Wilson, Duane 1||Marquette||PG||2.25|
|1099||Cheatham, Haanif 25||Marquette||SG||1.95||16%|
|60||Hart, Josh 3||Villanova||PF||6.44||36%|
|154||Arcidiacono, Ryan 15||Villanova||PG||5.32||11%|
|174||Ochefu, Daniel 23||Villanova||C||5.18||20%|
|239||Jenkins, Kris 2||Villanova||SG||4.58|
|460||Bridges, Mikal 25||Villanova||PF||3.66||18%|
|660||Brunson, Jalen 1||Villanova||PG||3.01||33%|
|1011||Reynolds, Darryl 45||Villanova||PF||2.14|
|1423||Booth, Phil 5||Villanova||PG||1.34||26%|
|153||Jones, Roosevelt 21||Butler||SG||5.34|
|271||Martin, Kelan 30||Butler||C||4.47||16%|
|329||Dunham, Kellen 24||Butler||SG||4.15||25%|
|429||Chrabascz, Andrew 45||Butler||SG||3.75|
|497||Wideman, Tyler 4||Butler||C||3.54|
|292||Groselle, Geoffrey 41||Creighton||C||4.35|
|293||Watson, Maurice 10||Creighton||PG||4.34||16%|
|319||Zierden, Isaiah 21||Creighton||SG||4.2|
|788||Huff, Cole 13||Creighton||C||2.62|
|858||Hanson, Zach 40||Creighton||C||2.47|
|984||Thomas, Khyri 2||Creighton||PF||2.18|
|231||Henry, Myke 4||DePaul||PF||4.62|
|383||Garrett, Billy 5||DePaul||PG||3.92|
|813||Hamilton, Tommy 2||DePaul||C||2.57||28%|
|66||Smith-Rivera, D'Vauntes 4||Georgetown||PG||6.3||17%|
|554||Peak, LJ 0||Georgetown||SG||3.33||24%|
|823||Copeland, Isaac 11||Georgetown||PF||2.56||35%|
|947||Hayes, Bradley 42||Georgetown||C||2.27|
|991||Govan, Jessie 15||Georgetown||PF||2.17||35%|
|1216||Derrickson, Marcus 24||Georgetown||SF||1.68||18%|
|9999||White, Paul 13||Georgetown||SF||0||29%|
|42||Bentil, Ben 0||Providence||PF||6.91||8%|
|54||Dunn, Kris 3||Providence||PG||6.52||94%|
|525||Bullock, Rodney 5||Providence||C||3.44|
|137||Rodriguez, Desi 20||Seton Hall||SF||5.49|
|270||Whitehead, Isaiah 15||Seton Hall||PG||4.47||32%|
|304||Delgado, Angel 31||Seton Hall||C||4.28||26%|
|377||Carrington, Khadeen 0||Seton Hall||SG||3.94|
|709||Sanogo, Ismael 14||Seton Hall||PF||2.89|
|1258||Sima, Yankuba 35||St. John's||PF||1.62||25%|
|158||Bluiett, Trevon 5||Xavier||SF||5.29||36%|
|267||Farr, James 2||Xavier||C||4.48|
|335||Davis, Myles 15||Xavier||PG||4.13|
|349||Macura, JP 55||Xavier||PG||4.06|
|535||Sumner, Edmond 4||Xavier||PG||3.38||21%|
|691||Reynolds, Jalen 1||Xavier||C||2.94||35%|