"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

Monday, May 20, 2019

Nothing for #mubb, but we do close out the Sports Movie Bracket

Breathe, there is absolutely nothing to talk about when it comes to #mubb, so we're going to take advantage of the opportunity to spend 90 minutes closing out the Sports Movie Bracket. We name a champion, but not without controversy and debate along the way. Let us know if you think we got it right or wrong (@joemccann3 @mooof23). Enjoy! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/mz344s/scrambledeggs_edit_051919.mp3

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Results of Marquette 2003 vs. Georgetown 2007 and Cincy 2002; Nova 2018 Dominates

The scoresheet below was supposed to be of the Georgetown 2007 vs. Marquette 2003 team which brought back so many memories of going to my first Marquette game in 20 years. However, let's just say I'd forgotten just how bad our Final Four team's defense was at keeping opponents away from the hoop and off the glass and Roy Hibbert took full advantage. However, MU did manage to survive the second game despite 24 points by Cincinnati's Steve Logan and Coach Huggins great defense, so here are the early standings of my replay and the full game scoresheet further down.

Of course, Cincy, Butler and MU were really not in the Big East yet and Louisville has since left, but I've shuffled to make six 7-team conferences.

Big EastWonLostScoredAllowed
Villanova 2018108960
Louisville 2013107461
Georgetown 2007107462
Marquette 200311135136
Cincinnati 2002016273
UConn 2004016174
Butler 2010016089
(I am playing Syracuse 2003 and Pitt in the ACC, keeping all 6 conferences with 7 teams)

I never went to the Bradley Center until March 1, 2008, and decided if I was going to pay for a trip form Alabama I was buying seats three rows behind Tom Crean to see Georgetown - a year off a Final Four - come to town. It was my first time in the lower bowl of a college game, and I was stunned at how impossible the it seemed to even complete a pass against the speed and length you could only appreciate from this close to the action.

The heart break of fellow Alabama native Jonathan Wallace fouled by Dominic James on a 3-pointers in the final second to send the game into overtime where the Hoyas won was still exciting enough to start me on my 11 year streak of season tickets and making all March Madness games. I thought starting my Value Add Basketball game Big East play with the 2007 Georgetown team against the team that started making me watch Marquette on TV again - the 2003 Marquette seemed fitting.

Wallace even repeated being fouled on a three and hitting them all. Let's move on from that game and instead present the scoresheet from Marquette's second game.

Until late, it looked similar to the five games played between the two teams during Dwyane Wade's two years - during which the average score was Marquette 70, Cincinnati 67 as MU ended the Bearcats 20-game winning street as one of three wins.

Here is the scoresheet Cincinnati and the running score for the final 6:14 and 10 possessions of the first half, and then possessions 33 to 22 to start the second half. The numbers to the left show which possessions each player will play unless someone fouls out or a strategic change is made. The 5 "starters" are really "finishers," so Logan (who I ranked as the best player in 2002) can play "all" 44 possessions we play in the game, while McElroy can play possessions 39-1 (his card lets him play 39 possessions without being tired). You can see on the backups, Barker is down to play possessions "44-40." We start the game assuming all players have played about 11 of the first 22 possessions and the score is tied 22, so a player with a 39 really averaged 50 possessions that year, etc.

While we show total points for each player, we only record "contested" rebounds each player gets - since every other possession the rebound simply goes to the defense to keep the game moving - but the cards give all players the ranges to average the correct number of rebounds overall by giving offensive players twice as good a chance as they would really have of getting a rebound every other possession.

You may notice I choose to "start/finish" Steve Novak even though that just means he plays the final 14 possessions (14 to 1).  This is not because I am judging him better than Townsend, which he was not yet as a freshman, but if MU is down late in the game I'd rather have him as the best 3-point shooter of all 42 great teams in the game, and if MU is holding a lead late, I'd rather have him as the best free throw shooter in the game. However, you will notice Townsend had 9 points, 2 steals and a blocked shot to help key the win.

Logan cut the lead to 66-62 on yet another poor defensive play by Marquette, but Cincinnati could get no closer as they missed five straight shots after grabbing 4 straight offensive rebounds as well as Wade stealing the ball twice on plays that would have otherwise been made 3-pointers (which we only know in the game because we roll all the dice at once).

Cincy then had to foul Diener who hit both, and Novak hit a three with 1:15 left and MU scored on its final possession to end on a 7-0 run.

In the other games:

I was curious if Louisville's insane defensive pressure or UConn's dominant big man play would win out, but in this game Louisville stole the ball on 7 of UConn's first 11 possessions I played and Dieng gave Louisville enough rebounding to prevent a comeback for the 74-61 win. Siva, Smith and Hancock all had 3 steals - more like 4 or 5 since we don't track the first third of the game through the 20-20 tie. Eight of 9 Cardinals had steals, and the only one who didn't was the games leading rebounder Dieng who won 6 contested rebounds to offset UConn's size inside. Behenan fouled out trying to guard Okafor and then Harrell game back in and came within one foul of fouling out as well, but Okafor hit his average 50% of free throws (1-10 on 20-sided die) with 7 of 14 from the line.

Villanova appears the most dominant team in the conference, but Butler hung around to stay within 58-48 with Bridges picking up his 4th foul. However, between then and the 6:05 mark Nova went on one of their crazy 17-4 runs with a 3-pointer by DiVincenzo, 3 by Spellman, Brunson dunk, Bridges rebound and score, Pascall 4-point play and another 3 by DiVincenzo. Bridges never fouled out and finished with 26 points with a game-high 6 contested rebounds (we don't include the half of the misses that just go to the defense or those in the first 22 possessions) and Brunson added 19. Hayward scored 15, Mack 17 and Howard 18 for Butler in the 89-60 blowout win.

Finally, Green was dominant for Georgetown, getting past Marquette's defense early and often for a game high 28 points and 4 blocked shots (really like 6 blocks over all 66 possessions). Roy Hibbert started hot by blocking Jackson's first three shots and grabbing a game-high 5 rebounds, however Jackson turned it on in the second half to finish with a game-high 22 points to help Marquette make the final reasonable at 74-62.

No surprisingly, Kentucky is 2-0 in my SEC conference, and I have not started the Big 12, Big Ten, ACC or Pac-12 seasons yet.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Would you rather have MU's defense - blind comparison

I've been surprised at the number of people who believe MU did not have a good defense in 2019, and turning it into one of the "unfair" attacks against Wojo. I lined up a comparison of Marquette's defense against a mystery team so you can do a blind test.

I know the table is not that easy to read, but the overall top number is Ken Pomeroy's master calculation - adjusting how many points are allowed per 100 trips adjusted for the opposing offenses.

Clearly from the outset MU was much better than the other team, and in fact the mystery team played in an era in which fewer points were scored, so MU was the 45th best defense in the land compared to a very mediocre 109th.

MU was elite on the most important stat, holding opponents to only 46 percent eFG% (effective Field Goal percentage, which gives teams and extra half  "shot made" for 3-pointers) - so Wojo had excellent defense. MU was also a very good defensive rebounding team at 81st in the country while the mystery team was one of the worst. MU was the better shot blocking team.

The only place the mystery team was better was at steals due to one player being very good at steals, though other than that both teams had very few steals (often the trade off when you shut down opponents' shooting like MU did this year or Wisconsin does many years).

So anyone going into a game would much rather have Wojo's excellent defense than the very poor defense of Team A. And Team A is ... (go below chart)

CategoryTeam AMU
Adj. Efficiency99.2 10996.7 45Team a much worse than MU at overall defense, adjusted for opponents.
Four Factors
Effective FG%:47.3 7546.3 18MU much better at denying opponents shots.
Turnover %:18.1 30616.6 297Both teams terrible at forcing turnovers, MU a few spots better.
Off. Reb. %:34.3 25126.1 81MU way above average on defensive glass, while Team A much worse than average when they played.
FTA/FGA:32.5 7535.9 252Only thing Team A better at is not fouling, and slightly better at steals.
3P%:33.2 8532.4 65MU slightly better at denying 3-pointers.
2P%:45.9 7645.1 19MU much better (19th) at stopping 2 pointers, though Team A played when 2-pt % much lower.
FT%:69.2 14667.9 38The one we joke about - FT defense - teams shot terrible free throw percentage against MU :-)
Block%:9.1 12611.2 81MU much better at blocking shots.
Steal%:8.8 2496.9 325Both terrible at steals, though Team A better due to one player who was great at steals.

... the awful defensive unit of the 2003 Final Four Marquette team.

I realized just how bad that defense was when playing the game I invented with 42 great teams, and realizing how bad MU's 2003 defense was compared to other great teams and then realizing they were just bad compared to most major conference teams.

Obviously having the No. 2 offense in the country and the most dominant player in the tournament in Dwyane Wade covered up a very poor defensive team, but to those who keep pretending Wojo did not put a very good defensive unit on the floor are simply deniers.

Those who say watching Ja Morant, the likely No. 2 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, destroy MU's defense proves the former National Defensive Player of the Year Wojo is not a good defensive coach should go back and look at Kansas running a first half track meet against MU in the Final 4. Did that one game prove that MU 2003 really wasn't a great team and that the wins over three of the top 6 teams in the country culminating with the win over No. 1 Kentucky did not really mean anything.

If you are willing to look at facts, Wojo put the most improved defensive unit in the country on the floor last year, and this is a sign of good things to come.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Value Add Basketball Game: Marquette 2003 vs. Auburn 2019

We calculated and compiled these 42 great teams from the 21st Century, and set up this scoresheet to play games between them. The only other item you need is four dice. In this case the yellow 8-sided die of 3 indicates the small forward gets the ball, the roll of 32 on the two 6-sided dice in the middle column number is used to see if the defender stops the player in the 11-36 range, or if the player with the ball turns it over or dunks in the 41-66 range. Finally if nothing happens on those dice, then the 20-sided (green) die determines if the player with the ball can score or draw a shooting foul using the right column.

We added this video of how to set up the game to make sure it all made sense.

The following is Dwyane Wade's 2003 card, the more of an explanation under each column. Below that we show the other cards for the Marquette 2003 and Auburn 2019 Final Four teams to give my friends from both places the chance to play - but you can find those teams and 40 others on the link above. They are divided into seven great teams from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Big East, Pac-12 and SEC, but great teams from other conferences were placed in one of the other conferences to set up a season.

The following is the team card and one possible line-up for Marquette 2003 - which puts Steve Novak into the starting line-up as the best 3-pointer shooter and free throw shooter on any of the 42 great teams in the game.

We filled in a score sheet with the Auburn 2019 Final Four team as the visitor and the 2003 Marquette Final Four team as the home team. The blue ink indicates items we would have written into the score sheet to start the game, as well as notes on when players would enter the game to avoid anyone becoming tired. We have steadily simplified the game without losing any of the key components, and we are finding it takes us 25 minutes to play a game.

The following is a starting line-up for Auburn. You could certainly play starters against starters to try to game, but the reserves on both teams and all 40 other great teams are available on the link at the top of this post.

Feedback is always welcome at pudnerjohn@gmail.com. Yes a few rough edges still and will continue to cleanup the goofy decimals etc.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

A little bit of #mubb talk and a lot bit of sports movie talk

Well it's finally here, the first pod of the sports movie bracket but first we have some shade to throw at the #mubb social media team. The first 27 minutes of the pod we talk: Hauser transfer revisit, Zapruder MU videos, Wojo extension, and Jayce Johnson commit. Once that #mubb business is out of the way, we move to the heart of the early off season, the 76 team Sports Movie Bracket. We establish the ground rules and then dive in picking winners and losers in the play-in and opening round games. We have a good time recording, we hope you enjoy listening to it! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/em4vkr/scrambledeggs_edit_050819.mp3 The movie bracket was generated via S-Curve which in turn was generated by 3 key metrics: IMDB ranking, Rotten Tomatoes Fan Ranking, and Domestic Box Office adjusted to 2019. The movies were then slotted into the 76 team bracket with movement so that sequels don't face each other until the 3rd round and with the last 24 movies in participating in a 12 game play-in bracket.

 Below is the S-Curve:

 And here is the bracket itself:

Friday, April 26, 2019

Turnovers of the Non-Transfer Kind

I've given a lot of thought recently to Marquette & turnovers. I believe turnovers are a key to Marquette's 2019-20 success, not just on offense but also on defense. I'll acknowledge immediately that using Synergy, Paint Touches could probably do an even deeper dive, but I'm writing this to at least start the conversation. If anyone else wants to run with the idea, please do.

In 5 years under Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette's offense has been woeful in both offensive turnover rate & opponent steal percentage. The result of these turnovers is empty possessions at best & easy run-outs for the opponents at worst. Considering this has been an issue for 5 years, this seems like a system problem more than just a player problem.

Year Off TO% Nat. Rank BE Rank Off Stl% Nat. Rank BE Rank
2015 19.3 189 10 9.6 206 7
2016 20 292 9 9.5 277 7
2017 17.3 86 4 9.2 245 5
2018 17.3 99 7 8.3 121 5
2019 19.3 239 7 9.7 278 7

Looking at last year, a big part of the problem was Joey Hauser. Replacing his 22.3% TO rate with Brenden Bailey's 6.3% is a big step in the right direction. With 2.1 more minutes per game, Bailey would've ranked in the top-10 nationally. On the other end, if Sam Hauser's 11.9% rate is replaced primarily by Koby McEwen's 19.2% (at Utah State) it will largely offset this, especially as McEwen's expected higher usage rate will amplify his raw turnover numbers.

To illustrate that last point, consider that Markus Howard was hounded by Marquette fans for his turnovers last year with an 18.4% TO rate. Then think back to Derrick Wilson, who was was lauded for not turning the ball over. In 4 years, Wilson NEVER had a TO rate below 20%. His best was 20.1% as a junior.

Again, Derrick Wilson NEVER had as good a TO rate as Markus Howard did last year. The only reason we consider Howard's turnovers to be a deficit while Wilson's lack thereof were a strength were because of usage. In 4 years, Wilson (127) had less than half the turnovers Howard (282) has had in 3 years, but it seemed like less of a problem because Wilson rarely had the ball in his hands at the end of a possession, unlike Howard.

Wojo's offenses have with few exceptions been in the bottom half of both the nation & the league in both overall turnovers & live-ball turnovers. Even in their best seasons, 2017 & 2018, the chart above illustrates that top-150 nationally is at best pretty pedestrian when you are talking about a high-major league like the Big East.

The hope would be that moving to a three-guard offense would help, but of Marquette's returning guards that are expected to take on primary ballhandler roles, Markus Howard's 18.4% TO rate last year is better than any individual season posted by either Koby McEwen or Greg Elliott. If the ball is going to be in the hands of ball-handlers like Howard or worse, why would this be expected to improve? Frankly, I don't have an answer to this, but I do believe it needs to improve next year.

One way to change this is on the defensive end. As bad as Marquette has been on the offensive end, the defensive end is even worse. The reason isn't because the numbers have never been good, but because they have trended consistently down.

Year Def TO% Nat. Rank BE Rank Def Stl% Nat. Rank BE Rank
2015 21 59 1 11.6 29 2
2016 19.1 108 5 10.6 35 1
2017 18.3 186 7 10.1 59 6
2018 18.1 197 7 8.6 180 7
2019 16.6 297 7 6.9 325 10

Let's start with the system. In Wojo's first year, playing zone instead of man created more turnovers. In general, systems that play high pressure & defend space rather than individuals are going to create more turnovers. That's why teams like Washington, VCU, Auburn, & Syracuse will routinely have great defensive turnover rates. Wojo obviously favors man-to-man. Players are asked to stick to their assignment & challenge every shot. If a team defends well & boxes out, that should limit scoring, but it won't create turnovers & won't create the easy run-outs at the other end.

Ultimately, that's what this article is about. Losing the Hausers will almost certainly reduce Marquette's eFG% next year. The loss of their three-point shooting means the easiest way for Marquette to replace that scoring is by getting high percentage looks at the rim. The easiest way to do that is by creating turnovers that lead to run-outs, dunks, & layups. Further, those quick possessions are less likely to result in a turnover. Creating more turnovers on defense will lead to easier scoring opportunities & a lower turnover rate on offense. It's all connected.

I digress. Back to the system. The other thing Wojo had in his first season was long, quick athletes like Jajuan Johnson, Juan Anderson, & Duane Wilson. In addition, the grad transfer Matt Carlino was a good ballhawk going back to his BYU days. Playing a zone with players that excelled in creating turnovers led to the best defensive turnover rate of Wojo's career by far.

In the following years, Wojo moved back to man-to-man & we began to see roster turnover. Guys like Carlino & Wilson who had more length were replaced by Andrew Rowsey & Markus Howard, who lacked the length to get into passing lanes. In the frontcourt, guys like Johnson & Anderson were replaced by Sam Hauser & Matt Heldt, who lacked the quickness to create steals & transition offense. In 2017, when Wojo made the NCAA Tournament for the first time, Johnson & Wilson played just 20% of the total available minutes but accounted for 38% of the team's steals. They were 1 & 2 on the team in total steals. With their departure, we see that Wojo's system & recruiting has not prioritized live ball turnovers.

What really started me thinking about this was watching Joseph Chartouny. At Fordham, Chartouny played for a coach whose teams have ranked in the top-50 of DTO% in 9 of 14 years & top-10 5 times. Chartouny thrived in a high-pressure defense in which he was the tip of a spear specifically designed to create live ball turnovers. This led to him being ranked in the top-2 in the country in steal percentage as both a sophomore & junior & created the on-paper appearance that he was the perfect fix for a team that struggled to create turnovers.

However in Wojo's defense, he was asked to stay home. He looked hesitant, he didn't gamble, & being forced to focus on his defensive assignment muted his best attribute. Despite that, he still led the team in steal percentage. I fully acknowledge Chartouny didn't meet expectations. That said, had he played at Marquette in 2015, MU fans would remember him far more fondly.

While Wojo hasn't prioritized steals in his system, the distribution of minutes is also telling. Over the years we have seen a marked decline in defensive turnover numbers. A big part of that is who is on the court. The best players in terms of steal percentage are not getting the most minutes. In 2019, Chartouny (2.8%) & Jamal Cain (2.5) led the way but ranked 6th & 9th in minutes played. In 2018, it was Cain (2.7%) & Greg Elliott (2.7) but ranked 6th & 7th in minutes. In 2017, Johnson (4.1) & Wilson (3.3) led the way while ranking 3rd & 7th in minutes. In 2016, it was Johnson (3.7), Traci Carter (3.5), & Wilson (2.5) who ranked 5th, 7th, & 3rd in minutes.

This is not to suggest that Wojo shouldn't get his best players on the court. In this most recent season, I understand why Markus Howard & Joey Hauser got more minutes than Joseph Chartouny & Jamal Cain. But I definitely think Joey Hauser, who turned it over too often & created turnovers too seldom while hitting an obvious freshman wall in February, could've used more time on the bench.

Going into next year, it will be interesting to see the minutes given to players like Jamal Cain & Greg Elliott. It will also be interesting to see if the team is allowed to gamble a little bit more to create turnovers. With more long, quick athletes than Wojo has ever had at his disposal, allowing the players more flexibility to create turnovers & score in transition could help offset the loss of the Hausers while simultaneously playing into the strengths of the roster as constructed.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

We interupt your scheduled Sports Movie Bracket with this Breaking News

We are shocked to say the least. As reported all over the interwebs on Monday, April 15th, the Hauser brothers have announced their intention to transfer from Marquette. Instead of the general odds and ends plus the first rounds of the Sports Movie Bracket, we get together to talk about this program altering and unexpected news. https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/hrjvu9/scrambledeggs_edit_041519.mp3

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Something a bit different for CrackedSidewalks, we're doing a #ScrambledEggs Sports Movie Bracket

Welcome to the off season where we search for reasons to continue to be entertained. The Scrambled Eggs podcast has created the idea of a 76 "team" bracket to determine the ultimate sports movie to have ever have existed. We are going to debate the bracket match ups as part of our podcast and "determine" winners and losers. We'll also have a voting system through Google Forms you can access by following us on twitter (@mooof23 and/or @joemccann3). This will very likely take longer than a single podcast so we'll spread it across multiple episodes over the next couple of podcasts and we will of course also have updates around #mubb with each podcast. The movie bracket was generated via S-Curve which in turn was generated by 3 key metrics: IMDB ranking, Rotten Tomatoes Fan Ranking, and Domestic Box Office adjusted to 2019. The movies were then slotted into the 76 team bracket with movement so that sequels don't face each other until the 3rd round and with the last 24 movies in participating in a 12 game play-in bracket.

 Without further ado, below is the S-Curve:

 And here is the bracket itself:

 Enjoy the bracket! Podcast to come later.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Big East 2019-20 Non-Conference Schedules (So Far)

I put together a list on MUScoop today of what we know so far for the 2019-20 Big East Non-Conference Schedules. Feel free to tweet any updates I missed to @brewcity77 on Twitter so I can add them in and update this as the next couple months go on. I'll add a few thoughts after each one based on what we know.

Butler (6)

@ Baylor (Big East/Big 12)
@ Mississippi
vs Florida
vs Purdue (N)
Hall of Fame Classic (2 of Missouri, Oklahoma, Stanford)

This is a nice balanced start. The road games will be tough, but there isn't an overwhelming game on here. I'm assuming the Crossroads Classic continues. Butler seems like a good bet to get a Gavitt Game as they've only played in 2 so far, fewest of any Big East team.

Creighton (4)

vs Oklahoma (Big East/Big 12)
vs Nebraska
Las Vegas Invitational (2 of Iowa, Texas Tech, San Diego State)

Still a lot to flesh out, but both home high-majors are winnable & Vegas provides some good opportunities.

DePaul (3)

vs Texas Tech (Big East/Big 12)
vs Northwestern
@ Boston College

The Blue Demons don't have an exempt tournament yet, not sure if that will change. They are likely to play some of the local schools like UIC & NIU but I haven't seen anything concrete yet. Not a terrible start, but needs work.

Georgetown (5)

@ Oklahoma State (Big East/Big 12)
vs Syracuse
Empire Classic (2 of Cal, Duke, Texas)

A nice mix of quality opponents on here. The Big 12 Challenge game adds some quality & Georgetown seems likely to add a Gavitt Game. This looks like the best schedule so far under Ewing.

Marquette (5)

@ Kansas State (Big East/Big 12)
@ Wisconsin-Madison
Orlando Invitational (3 of Davidson, Fairfield, Harvard, Maryland, Temple, Texas A&M, USC)

 History would indicate MU will add a tourney quality buy game & at least one more high-major home game, either in the Gavitt Games or as a new home-and-home, quite possibly both. A home-and-home would help balance the schedule for this year & give a guaranteed away game opposite hosting UW-M in 2020.

Providence (7)

@ Massachusetts
@ Rhode Island
vs Texas (Big East/Big 12)
vs Boston College
Wooden Legacy (3 of Arizona, Charleston, Long Beach State, Penn, Pepperdine, UCF, Wake Forest)

This is a loaded slate & I love it. If Cooley's team takes a step up, they have a solid schedule with all winnable games. They could add a Gavitt Game but even without it have a solid non-con.

Seton Hall (7)

@ Iowa State (Big East/Big 12)
@ St. Louis
@ Rutgers
vs Maryland
Battle 4 Atlantis (3 of Alabama, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Southern Miss)

This is a meat-grinder. Three road games, a tough home game, & one of the toughest exempt tournaments. They don't need any more quality, but SHU has only played 2 Gavitt Games so they could be in line for another & I'm sure a second quality home game to draw fans would be appreciated, though that's a murderer's row away from home.

St. John's (5)

vs West Virginia (Big East/Big 12)
vs 2 of Central Connecticut State, Columbia, Rider, Vermont (Air Force Reserve Campus Games)
Air Force Reserve Tip-Off (2 of Arizona State, UMass, Virginia)

Is any school more afraid of travel than St. John's? Three home games in here & the two neutral site games are 125 miles from campus. Like to see 2-3 road or neutral site games added that aren't within a 2 hour drive of NYC.

Villanova (8)

@ Temple
@ St. Joseph's
vs Penn
vs La Salle
vs Kansas (Big East/Big 12)
Myrtle Beach Invitational (3 of Baylor, Coastal Carolina, Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi State, Ohio, Tulane, Utah)

I love the Big 5. Such a cool concept & guarantees at least decent mid-major games. Add in Kansas at home & a tournament in which they'll likely be favored & this is a great schedule. Nova is another Gavitt candidate, having played just 3 games so far.

Xavier (6)

@ TCU (Big East/Big 12)
vs Cincinnati
vs Missouri
Charleston Classic (3 of Buffalo, UConn, Florida, Miami, Missouri State, St. Joseph's, Towson)

X is a strong Gavitt candidate, hopefully playing someone other than Wisconsin. This could probably use another home-and-home starting on the road or road Gavitt Game, but it's a solid schedule so far.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

The Next Buffalo

With Marquette's season done, the focus shifts to coaching changes, the transfer portal, & non-conference scheduling. Since Marquette was assigned Belmont as a campus game in the 2015 Legends Classic they have consistently followed that with one NCAA Tournament tested buy game on the schedule.

In 2016, it was Fresno State. The Bulldogs finished #98 at kenpom & 76 in the RPI, just one spot away from qualifying as a Quadrant 2 home game. In 2017 it was Vermont. The Catamounts finished #76 at kenpom & 60 in the RPI, good enough to qualify as a Quadrant 2 win. This past year it was Buffalo. The Bulls finished #22 at kenpom & #15 in the NET, making them just one of two teams that played away buy games & qualified as a Quadrant 1A home win, which made Buffalo one of the best wins you could possibly buy...assuming you won (ask West Virginia & Syracuse about that).

Here's what we know about Marquette's 2019-20 schedule so far:

  • Away vs Wisconsin-Madison
  • Away vs Kansas State
  • Neutral (x3) vs Davidson, Fairfield, Harvard, Maryland, Temple, Texas A&M (please, please, please), & USC
Most likely Marquette will host a Gavitt Game to help balance out the schedule and/or try to start another high major home-and-home series at Fiserv Forum. They will also likely want to get a quality buy game to add some shine to the home non-conference slate for season ticket holder interest. With that in mind, here are five teams (pending coaching changes & transfers) Marquette could line up to be next year's Buffalo.

1. Utah State: Put flashing lights on this one. Utah State earned the Mountain West autobid but would've been an at-large last year without it. They return most of that roster, including MWC Player of the Year Sam Merrill & NBA prospect Neemias Queta. With most of Nevada's roster graduating, the Aggies will be heavy MWC favorites next year. While this might seem like a big target for a buy game, it's no bigger than Buffalo was & comes from the same league as Fresno State.

2. East Tennessee State: When #3bidSoCon was trending, it was Wofford, UNC-Greensboro, & Furman that Twitter was talking about. Next year, it will likely be the Buccaneers. While the three teams above lose their best players, ETSU could return their entire rotation from a squad that went 13-5 in a quality league. Barring transfers or a coaching change, this will be one of the best buy game options in the country next year.

3. New Mexico State: Chris Jans had a top-40 NET team in the WAC this year & will likely have 5 senior starters next year. They lose two rotation players but will still be experienced & deep. The Aggies won 19 straight before falling to future Final Four team Auburn by 1 point in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They should be even better next year.

4. Vermont: Next year's Vermont could be...Vermont. John Becker's team has won 20+ games 8 years running (11 if you count Mike Lonergan's last 3 years) & has finished top-100 at kenpom each of the last 3 years. They return 6 of their top 7 in terms of minutes from a NCAA team. More likely to be Quadrant 2 than 1, this will still be an excellent buy opponent.

5. Northeastern: They have to replace Vasa Pusica's scoring, but have 4 of their top-5 scorers back. The Huskies made the NCAA Tournament & should be favorites in the Colonial. They were just outside Quadrant 2 (NET #78) as a buy game last year but have a very good chance to improve on that next year.

Five More to Watch: Missouri State, UC Irvine, UT Arlington, Grand Canyon, Northern Kentucky

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Value Add Basketball Game Showcases Markus' Ability to Create; S. Hauser's Efficiency

After beta testing the (free) Value Add Basketball Game to simulate each player's ability in just about every aspect of the game, we ran player cards for up to 10 players on all 353 teams as well as 32 All-Conference teams. The links to the game and players cards are below in case anyone wants to simulate a match-up (you did need two 6-sided dice and a 20-sided and 8-sided as well.

But first, last year after the season Value Add Projections showed Marquette as a 7-seed with Greg Elliott (projected 3.0), and with his loss Marquette dropped out of the top 32 to project as a first round NCAA loser. I haven't done a full projection yet, but just going with the projected Value Add's of every team's Value Add minus their seniors, Marquette is 10th in the country. That includes Zion Williamson's best ever 14.08 and all others who are really one-and-dones, so it's not an in depth but since the teams losing players early to the NBA are often the same teams who pick up new ones, it seems Marquette minus Elliott calculating as a 9-seed last year, and Marquette projecting as a 3-seed even before adding a projection for Elliott or McEwen for next year and our All-American Markus Howard being able to play shooting guard where opponents cannot badger him all game - I just don't see how fans can; 1) not be satisfied with this year as a whole, 2) not see the program as absolutely on pace under Wojo including making the tournament way ahead of schedule two years ago,par this year, and great expectations last year. Here are the top 10 teams in "non-senior" Value Add this year.

1. Virginia 47.49
2. Duke 47.12
3. Michigan 38.69
4. Kentucky 37.03
5. Gonzaga 36.64
6. Michigan St. 34.13
7. Maryland 33.97
8. Kansas 33.55
9. LSU 30.84
10. Marquette 30.54

The Value Add Basketball Game

To play your own game, click on the first 2 links for instructions and scoresheets, then pick two teams from any of the links below for player cards. You need only two 6-sided dice, a 20-sided die and an 8-sided die.

How to Play Value Add Basketball
Value Add Game Scoresheet
Pick 2 teams, click for Player Cards
All-Conference Player Cards
Abilene Christian to BYU
Cal Baptist to Duquesne
East Carolina to Green Bay
Hampton to LSU
Maine to Notre Dame
Oakland to Syracuse
TCU to Youngstown Player Cards

The Value Add Basketball Game simulates each players' ability to get the ball and get shots off,  rebound, hit from the line and inside and outside the arc, dish out great assists.

The first aspect of the game is the measurement of the ability to create shots and opportunities. While the game is an over simplification, it is accurate, it starts with a roll of an 8-sided dice and Markus Howard is one of the very elite players in the game that creates shots on three numbers, a 1, 6 or 8. Basically most players just get the ball if that die points to their position (1 = point guard creates, 2 = shooting guard creates, etc.), but the offense stalls on a 6, 7 or 8 unless you have a rate truly elite creator like Howard or with players with one extra number (7 for example) that is a very good creator, and one thing that does stand out is that noone else on MU was even the very good creator. Therefore if Markus is off the court, you can see why the offense stalls.

That being said, when he does create Sam Hauser has a virtually identical shooting/drawing foul card on a 1 to 20 roll. Both hit 3-pointers on rolls of 1-4, hit 2-pointers on 5 to 8, and Markus draws a shooting foul on one more number than Sam (9 to 11 vs 9 to 10). When they go to the line, both hit free throws on a roll of 1-18 since both round out to 90% from the line.

However, the player first must avoid a turning it over on a roll of 11-66 when the defender is trying to stop them, and while Markus is a slightly better than average with turnovers on just three numbers (51-53), Hauser is truly elite with  a turnover on only one roll, a 51. Keep in mind that the opposing defender can also steal the ball on some of their numbers. What really jumped out was Brandon Bailey, who not only never turns the ball over on his card but actually calculated a NEGATIVE three numbers which means I should really take away almost all the times his opponent steals the ball from him - but the game isn't that advanced.

Marquette's two top 30 players who are not seniors makes them truly elite net year. UVa is more impressive with three in the top 15, Gonzaga has two in the top 35 but likely loses one to the NBA, Duke has No. 1 and No 11 in Zion and RJ, but obviously the are both gone and the next most impressive is Texas Tech with two in the top 50.

While I hate to lose Sacar Anim's defense, being able to rotate in more offense in a year not having Joseph Chartouny as a strong defender was good but on offense not having him able to handle the speed of the competition (he actually has the highest turnover range in the game (44-56 are turnovers) and as much as we all love Matt Heldt but with two returning center all looks good. So the main change is returning players usually improve, and adding two point guards to let Marquette's superstars play the 2 and the 3 (shooting guard and small forward) gives Wojo the first team he has had that should win even a game in March Madness, and it definitely looks like a run is possible for the first time. Yes I'm in the Polyanna mode, but in this case I do not see why anyone is not.

Here are the Marquette playing cards in the game, but they really are easier to read on the google sheet in the game if you can click on that instead:

Hampton to LSU

Markus HowardCheck here when defending; 11-43 Roll20-sided (if 11-66 not in a range)
Marquette11 to 13: he steals ball1 to 4: 3-pt made
BE,5-1121 to 22: he blocks shot5 to 8: 2-pt made
Value Add: 9.2336 to 36: commits shooting foul, check 20-sided9 to 11: he draws foul, take 2 FT
Playing Time41 = forces miss & gets rebound12 to 16: missed three
55When he has ball check 44-6617 to 20: missed two
Gets Ball (below)51 to 53: turns ball overOff Reb: 1-1/Def Reb: 1-2
S - 1, 6&864 to 66: he dunks (scores at the rim)1 to 18: free throw good
Sacar AnimCheck here when defending; 11-43 Roll20-sided (if 11-66 not in a range)
Marquette11 to 13: he steals ball1 to 2: 3-pt made
BE,6-521 to 23: he blocks shot3 to 8: 2-pt made
Value Add: 1.6536 to 36: commits shooting foul, check 20-sided9 to 10: he draws foul, take 2 FT
Playing Time41 = forces miss & gets rebound11 to 13: missed three
49When he has ball check 44-6614 to 20: missed two
Gets Ball (below)51 to 52: turns ball overOff Reb: 1-1/Def Reb: 1-2
S - 264 to 66: he dunks1 to 11: free throw good
Sam HauserCheck here when defending; 11-43 Roll20-sided (if 11-66 not in a range)
Marquette11 to 13: he steals ball1 to 4: 3-pt made
BE,6-821 to 23: he blocks shot5 to 8: 2-pt made
Value Add: 8.7936 to 36: commits shooting foul, check 20-sided9 to 10: he draws foul, take 2 FT
Playing Time41 = forces miss & gets rebound11 to 17: missed three
53When he has ball check 44-6618 to 20: missed two
Gets Ball (below)51 to 51: turns ball overOff Reb: 1-2/Def Reb: 1-4
S - 364 to 66: he dunks 1 to 18: free throw good
Joey HauserCheck here when defending; 11-43 Roll20-sided (if 11-66 not in a range)
Marquette11 to 13: he steals ball1 to 3: 3-pt made
BE,6-921 to 23: he blocks shot4 to 7: 2-pt made
Value Add: 3.4435 to 36: commits shooting foul, check 20-sided8 to 11: he draws foul, take 2 FT
Playing Time41 = forces miss & gets rebound12 to 15: missed three
48When he has ball check 44-6616 to 20: missed two
Gets Ball (below)51 to 55: turns ball overOff Reb: 1-2/Def Reb: 1-3
S - 4Use this card on 44-66, Otherwise defender card1 to 16: free throw good
Theo JohnCheck here when defending; 11-43 Roll20-sided (if 11-66 not in a range)
Marquette11 to 16+: he steals ballNone: 3-pt made
BE,6-921 to 26+++: he blocks shot1 to 9: 2-pt made
Value Add: 2.7533 to 36: commits shooting foul, check 20-sided10 to 14: he draws foul, take 2 FT
Playing Time41 = forces miss & gets reboundNo missed 3s
32When he has ball check 44-6615 to 20: missed two
Gets Ball (below)51 to 55: turns ball overOff Reb: 1-6/Def Reb: 1-3
S - 5Use this card on 44-66, Otherwise defender card1 to 10: free throw good

Joseph ChartounyCheck here when defending; 11-43 Roll20-sided (if 11-66 not in a range)
Marquette11 to 15: he steals ball1 to 3: 3-pt made
BE,6-321 to 22: he blocks shot4 to 8: 2-pt made
Value Add: 1.1836 to 36: commits shooting foul, check 20-sided9 to 10: he draws foul, take 2 FT
Playing Time41 = forces miss & gets rebound11 to 16: missed three
27When he has ball check 44-6617 to 20: missed two
Gets Ball (below)44 to 56: turns ball overOff Reb: 1-1/Def Reb: 1-3
B - 164 to 66: he dunks 1 to 14: free throw good
Jamal CainCheck here when defending; 11-43 Roll20-sided (if 11-66 not in a range)
Marquette11 to 16: he steals ball1 to 3: 3-pt made
BE,6-721 to 25: he blocks shot4 to 9: 2-pt made
Value Add: 0.6435 to 36: commits shooting foul, check 20-sided10 to 11: he draws foul, take 2 FT
Playing Time41 = forces miss & gets rebound12 to 16: missed three
13When he has ball check 44-6617 to 20: missed two
Gets Ball (below)46 to 56: turns ball overOff Reb: 1-4/Def Reb: 1-4
B - 264 to 66: he dunks 1 to 5: free throw good
Brendan BaileyCheck here when defending; 11-43 Roll20-sided (if 11-66 not in a range)
Marquette11 to 15: he steals ball1 to 2: 3-pt made
BE,6-821 to 26: he blocks shot3 to 6: 2-pt made
Value Add: 1.0936 to 36: commits shooting foul, check 20-sided7 to 8: he draws foul, take 2 FT
Playing Time41 = forces miss & gets rebound9 to 16: missed three
20When he has ball check 44-6617 to 20: missed two
Gets Ball (below)Does not turns ball overOff Reb: 1-3/Def Reb: 1-1
B - 364 to 66: he dunks1 to 14: free throw good
Ed MorrowCheck here when defending; 11-43 Roll20-sided (if 11-66 not in a range)
Marquette11 to 16: he steals ballNone: 3-pt made
BE,6-721 to 26+: he blocks shot1 to 10: 2-pt made
Value Add: 2.7734 to 36: commits shooting foul, check 20-sided11 to 13: he draws foul, take 2 FT
Playing Time41 = forces miss & gets reboundNo missed 3s
22When he has ball check 44-6614 to 20: missed two
Gets Ball (below)51 to 56: turns ball overOff Reb: 1-6/Def Reb: 1-4
B - 464 to 66: he dunks1 to 14: free throw good
Matt HeldtCheck here when defending; 11-43 Roll20-sided (if 11-66 not in a range)
Marquette11 to 16: he steals ballNone: 3-pt made
BE,6-1021 to 26+: he blocks shot1 to 7: 2-pt made
Value Add: 0.5333 to 36: commits shooting foul, check 20-sided8 to 12: he draws foul, take 2 FT
Playing Time41 = forces miss & gets reboundNo missed 3s
8When he has ball check 44-6617 to 20: missed two
Gets Ball (below)51 to 53: turns ball overOff Reb: 1-4/Def Reb: 1-2
B - 564 to 66: he dunks1 to 15: free throw good

Monday, March 25, 2019

The season ended and we're all trying to figure out whats next

Well, the off season is officially upon us thanks to a spectacular display from Ja Morant and Murray State. So we have to ask ourselves, what the hell happened in that game, where did it all go so wrong? We also have to talk about Wojo, because there are definitely reasons for alarm that he may not be the guy to lead Marquette to anything of consequence. That discussions turns to what the team looks like next year and whether or not they will be better and better enough to do anything of consequence. As we shift into off-season mode we highlight the topics that will put up the pod signal to bring us out of our off season laziness: Markus go or stay, other roster turnover(transfers, reclassification, etc), and the coaching staff. We close out the pod with a highlight of a little project we have going on that we'll pod on in April and start rolling material out for soon: a 68 team Sports Movie bracket!! Enjoy! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/wa6b75/scrambledeggs_editted_032419.mp3

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Analyzing Murray State's Elite eFG%

The most important of the Four Factors in predicting outcomes is effective field goal percent, or eFG%. That statistic combines a player's two & three point field goal shooting into one number. The calculation is: (FGM + (0.5 x 3PFGM))/FGA. What this does is effectively adds the additional 50% of points scored for a three to a two. To show how it works, here is Markus Howard's current eFG% calculation:

Field Goals Made: 243
Three Point Field Goals Made: 116
Field Goal Attempts: 573

So the calculation is (243 + (0.5 x 116)) / 573 = 52.5 eFG%

The reason I bring this up is because two numbers on Murray State's team page on kenpom really stand out. Those numbers were 55.2 Offensive eFG% & 46.4 Defensive eFG%, both top-25 nationally. While the other three factors can influence outcomes (turnovers have significantly impacted Marquette's results) there is no single factor more important in predicting a winner than eFG%, which immediately gave me concerns about Murray State's chances of pulling off an upset.

I decided to dig in a bit deeper to determine how valid those numbers were. Their respective eFG% are elite for diametrically different reasons. Offensively, they are only average on three-point attempts but rank 5th in the nation at 57.2% on two-point attempts. Defensively, they are elite on three-point attempts, ranked 4th at 28.5%, but only slightly above average on two-point attempts. We'll start with the offense.

2PFG% Offensive Breakdown

As their shooting inside the arc is the primary factor propping up their lofty offensive eFG%, I was interested in looking at the quality of 2PFG% defenses the Racers were facing. I divided their opponents into three categories: those that finished top-100, bottom-100, & anywhere in between in 2PFG% defense. Over the course of the season, they played 6 games against teams in the top-100, 10 games against teams from 101-250, & 13 games against teams that were sub-250. Here is the breakdown:

Rank Games 2PFGM 2PFGA 2PFG%
Top-100 6 117 221 52.9
101-250 10 197 372 53.0
Sub-250 13 319 513 62.2
Total 29 633 1,106 57.2

Against the top-250, the Racers were consistent. Their overall 2PFG% in the top two categories combined was 52.95%. That number would rank 66th in the nation, but playing 44.8% of their games against sub-250 2PFG% defenses allowed them reach that top-5 ranking. The Racers dominanted weak opposition to inflate their offensive 2PFG% & thus their overall eFG%.

What does that mean against Marquette? First of all, Marquette is ranked 19th in 2PFG% defense, which is far better than the best ranked team in that category the Racers have faced all year. Theo John is also a more prolific rim protector than any player they have faced this year. At a glance, Murray State's greatest offensive strength will be tested in a fashion unlike any game they have played this season.

Further, Murray State lost just 4 games all season. 2 were against teams in the top-100 category & 2 were against teams in the 101-250 category. Against the 7 best 2PFG% defenses they played, Murray State was just 4-3. This certainly doesn't guarantee victory, but that record is certainly less daunting than their 25-4 overall mark in D1 games.

3PFG% Defense

As I think about how Murray State hasn't faced a defensive team like Marquette, I wondered if they have faced a lineup of shooters as prolific as Marquette has. My initial thought was no. Not only is Marquette ranked 9th in the nation, but they boast four three-point shooters that connect on over 40% of their attempts beyond the arc. Comparably, the Ohio Valley Conference also has four three-point shooters that connect on over 40% beyond the arc. That's four on all 12 teams.

Naturally, it's not as simple as that. The league may not have shooters as prolific as Marquette's quartet of Markus Howard, Joey Hauser, Sacar Anim, & Sam Hauser, but they do have teams that have multiple high-level three-point shooters. Austin Peay has three players that shoot 38.6% or better. Belmont has 5 players that shoot over 35.6% from deep. In non-conference play, they played Auburn & Southern Illinois, both of whom have four shooters hitting on 37% or better beyond the arc. So let's take a look at the numbers:

Rank Games 3PFGM 3PFGA 3PFG%
Top-100 10 82 243 33.7
101-250 9 49 193 25.4
Sub-250 10 46 184 25.0
Totals 29 177 620 28.5

The consistency was more evident in the lower two quadrants for defensive 3PFG%. Murray State definitely allowed the top teams they played to shoot the three better. That said, they did have two losses in the first category & one in each of the lower categories, so these numbers feel less significant as half their losses came to lesser three-point shooting teams.

In the Racers' four losses, the only team that did not qualify in the top-100 of either category was Alabama, who beat Murray State by outscoring them by 14 at the free throw line on 18 more attempts. The other three teams to beat them was top-100 in at least one of the other categories, & in Belmont's case, both.

Now admittedly, every team in the country plays teams that have deficiencies. Just like Murray State, Marquette is able to pad some stats against teams that simply aren't as good. This isn't meant to be indictment of the OVC. If you only look at how Murray State's offense did against top-100 2PFG% defenses, their 52.9% 2PFG% would still be 68th in the country, in the 81st percentile. If you only look at how Murray State's defense did against top-100 3PFG% offenses, their 33.7% would be 135th, in the 62nd percentile. So even when only Murray State's play against the best of their opposition is factored in & compared to how the rest of the country played against full schedules, the Racers are still well above average at both 2PFG% offense & 3PFG% defense. There is no disputing that Murray State is good at scoring inside the arc, good at defending the three, & their eFG% numbers have a basis in reality.

That said, Marquette will be the first team to play Murray State who is top-20 in both categories & is the only team below a 2-seed that can claim that. This doesn't guarantee a result, but Murray State has yet to play any team that has shown the ability to match them strength for strength as decisively as Marquette has this season. If you're looking for a 5/12 upset pick, the West may not be the best region to pick. Murray State's offense & defense are both built on eFG% numbers that have been benefited greatly from how effectively the Racers have handled the bottom of their schedule. It will be interesting to see how they handle a team that can challenge their greatest attributes from a position of strength.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Now that we're dancing, lets talk about that and less about the tire fire that was the BET

We've got a lot of ground to cover this podcast so we have to hit the ground running. First we highlight the bracket reveals and where MU stands before we turn to dissecting the Big East Tournament. We talk about exercising the St John's demons and then turn to the $hitshow that was the Seton Hall game. We talk about officiating travashamockeries, finding a new hated rival in the Big East, and how MU recovers from the result. We then talk about Markus Howard's performance in the Big East Tournament and whether we think he is more injured then they are letting on or if he is tired. We then get to the topic on everyone's mind, is MU going to win an NCAA Tournament game (would be first in Wojo's tenure)? So we talk match ups with Murray State, and can MU stop Ja Morant. We also talk about what happens if MU advances and the MU bracket generally, with the idea that we're generally pretty satisfied with the draw and we just have to hope MU can play up to it's potential. We close out the pod with some general bracket analysis, become both Oregon and Wofford fans, look forward to a great tournament. Enjoy! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/4sa8nq/scrambledeggs_editted_031719.mp3

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Selection Sunday, Afternoon

I expect when the final bracket comes out, I will end up looking really right or really wrong. I have focused my research this year heavily on the basis of the makeup of the Selection Committee. The reason for that is I am projecting a 3-bid SoCon. I evaluated 18 teams for the last 7 spots of the field. Those teams were (in NET order) Florida, NC State, Clemson, Texas, Furman, Washington, Belmont, Lipscomb, Belmont, Creighton, Indiana, Ohio State, Temple, Alabama, UNC Greensboro, Arizona State, Xavier, & St. John's. Here is the thought process I went through:

Too Many Losses (Texas, Indiana, Alabama, Xavier OUT) No team has ever made the field with 15 losses that did not also have at least 19 wins. I can't see a SC with a slant toward smaller conferences rewarding high-major programs with unprecedented bids.

Sub-60 NET (Arizona State, St. John's OUT) This is the first place where I differ from most other brackets. As of this writing, 81.1% of brackets on bracketmatrix.com have ASU in while 70.5% have St. John's in. However at the top-16 reveal, the SC mentioned 20 teams & none were ranked lower than 21 in the NET. I think 60 is an absolute cutoff, especially for teams that have more losses.

Show Me Something (Clemson OUT) No team had so many chances at good wins and came up short so often. I know they lost close games, which inflates their computer metrics, but ultimate resume has to count & the Tigers don't have enough on theirs to make the field.

So now we have 11 teams for those same 7 spots. The remaining teams are Florida, NC State, Furman, Washington, Belmont, Lipscomb, TCU, Creighton, Ohio State, Temple, & UNC Greensboro.

Quadrants 1 & 2 Performance (Washington, Belmont IN) Washington was 10-7 vs Q1/2 while Belmont was 5-3. Those were the only two teams with winning records vs the top two quadrants. While each team had struggles related to their league, they were more likely to win games than not against higher level competition.

Quadrant 1A Performance (TCU & Florida IN, Creighton & Ohio State OUT) Both teams had 2 Q1A wins. The only teams to equal or exceed that were Texas & Indiana, both eliminated off the bat. TCU was the easier decision with no losses outside the top two Quadrants. I know most have Florida comfortably in (96.2% of brackets) but I have them in Dayton. They would equal the worst record to ever make the field & every 19-15 at-large team in NCAA history has played in Dayton. Conversely, Creighton & Ohio State had every chance to get elite wins & came up short most of the time. Considering their pedestrian records, there isn't enough at the top of their resumes to overcome 14 losses & less than 20 wins.

We're now down to 5 teams for 3 spots: NC State, Furman, Lipscomb, Temple, & UNC Greensboro.

Show Me Something, Take 2 (NC State OUT) Similar to Clemson, NC State had chances & just didn't do enough with it. Their NCSOS of 353 is absolutely terrible & there just isn't enough at the top to offset the complete lack of any effort to schedule well.

The Final Three (Furman, Temple, & UNC Greensboro IN, Lipscomb OUT) Temple's record, along with the win over Houston, had the right mix of quality & quantity. That left a decision between three mid majors. Furman had a winning record in every Quadrant except 1 & the best overall win over Villanova. UNCG has their ridiculous average NET loss of 16 (better than any team in the country not on the 1 or 2 line) & were perfect outside Q1. That left Lipscomb out, who just had too many blemishes & not enough merits to offset that.

With the new committee makeup in place, that would give the at large bus outside the top-7 leagues since 2015. It's not as many as pre-2014 but the numerous bid thieves this week shrank the at large field by 4 spots. Here's the last S-Curve:

1-Seeds: 1-DUKE, 2-Virginia, 3-North Carolina, 4-Gonzaga
2-Seeds: 8-MICHIGAN, 7-Michigan State, 6-Kentucky, 5-Tennessee
3-Seeds: 9-Houston, 10-Texas Tech, 11-Lsu, 12-Florida State
4-Seeds: 16-Kansas State, 15-Wisconsin, 14-Purdue, 13-Kansas
5-Seeds: 17-Virginia Tech, 18-Marquette, 19-Mississippi State, 20-VILLANOVA
7-Seeds: 25-Maryland, 26-CINCINNATI, 27-Nevada, 28-Louisville
8-Seeds: 32-UTAH STATE, 31-Iowa, 30-Ucf, 29-Mississippi
9-Seeds: 33-Syracuse, 34-Baylor, 35-Seton Hall, 36-Minnesota
10-Seeds: 40-Belmont, 39-Washington, 38-Vcu, 37-Oklahoma
11-Seeds: 41-Tcu, 42-Florida/43-Furman, 44-Temple/45-Unc Greensboro, 46-OREGON

NIT 1-Seeds: Lipscomb, NC State, Creighton, Ohio State
NIT 2-Seeds: Clemson, St. John's, Arizona State, Indiana

Selection Sunday

We are just hours from Selection Sunday & it seems Marquette is sandwiched squarely between the 5 & 6 lines depending on the source. With that in mind, I thought I'd take a look the teams on the 12 line that could show up in the bracket later tonight & the quick reaction I'll have if they are the matchup. I also included a couple of 11-seeds, just in case we fall.

New Mexico State (12-Seed) No one Aggie player will strike fear into anyone, but they are incredibly deep & their entire roster plays. Terrell Brown is the only player with a double-digit scoring average 5 others score 7+ ppg & 13 players that average 10+ mpg. Further, all of them have played in 24+ games, so it's not an anomaly. The number that really stands out is the are the best team in the country at limiting assists. Defensively, they lack size & a rim protector, but play great team defense & close down passing lanes. It will likely be great individual performances that beat them. Coach Chris Jans said "we do a decent job taking away the first & second options, but then it becomes an isolation system & we are not very big out front. When teams go one-on-one against us, they are bigger & sometimes can just shoot over us & that's frustrating." This Aggies team really gets after rebounds on both ends, but with Marquette having multiple tall shooters & an individual talent like Markus Howard, this looks like a promising matchup.

St. Mary's (12-Seed) The Gaels are basically the "first round upset" prototype. They play at a grinding pace & shoot 37.8% from three. They are also elite at chasing opponents off the three-point line, limiting opponents to 31.4% three point attempts out of total field goal attempts. That's more than 10% points lower than Marquette's average. They played Mississippi State & LSU very close (single possession games with less than a minute in both games) & are a metrics darling, which means they will almost certainly be better than their seed. Expect this team to slow the pace, make threes at the end of the shot clock, & limit opponent opportunities in the half-court.

Murray State (12-Seed) Am I the only one thinking of 2012? Possible first weekend meeting with Murray State? Check. Low-major with a gaudy record? Check. Future NBA star leading the way? Check. The difference is that this Murray State team isn't as good as the 2012 team. They don't shoot it as well & don't defend remotely as well. If you don't know the name, get familiar with Ja Morant. He's projected as a top-5 NBA pick & leads the nation in assists & assist rate. The Racers are an up-tempo team that runs everything through Morant. They rely on attacking the interior, but haven't faced an interior defense like Marquette's all year long. The key to beating Murray State is to attack them inside. In their 4 losses, they allowed opponents to shoot 62.8% inside the arc.

Liberty (12-Seed) Teams that slow the pace & shoot the three can be dangerous in March, and that matches Liberty to a tee. That said, they have an undersized backcourt & marginal defense, while allowing opponents to score a high quantity from beyond the arc. Their trend against high majors this year was to play close & fade in the last 10 minutes. The key to beating Liberty is shooting the three. They allowed opponents to shoot 47.2% from beyond the arc in losses. Turn it into a three-point shooting contest & watch Liberty flame out.

Ohio State (11-Seed) The Buckeyes got everyone's attention when they went on the road to beat Cincinnati & Creighton just 8 days apart in November. Since they, the only wins they have over projected tournament teams are Minnesota & Iowa at home & have gone 7-13 since the start of the New Year. Chris Holtmann is a heck of a coach, but this looks like a team that overachieved just to get this far. Typically, his teams limit turnovers & clean up on the glass, but this team doesn't really excel at either of those things.

Belmont (11-Seed) The Bruins are one of the best shooting teams in the country (#3 eFG%) & are led by a likely NBA player in Dylan Windler. They barely play a lick of defense, but Rick Byrd is a brilliant offensive mind who has been at Belmont for over 30 years & is creeping up on 700 career wins. They excel at changing the point of attack to create open looks & running backdoor cuts & out of bounds plays that create easy scoring opportunities at the rim. I know Byrd hasn't made it out of the opening round yet as a coach, but this team has shock Sweet 16 written all over them.

1-Seeds: 1-DUKE, 2-Virginia, 3-TENNESSEE, 4-Gonzaga
2-Seeds: 8-MICHIGAN STATE, 7-HOUSTON, 6-North Carolina, 5-Kentucky
3-Seeds: 9-Michigan, 10-Texas Tech, 11-Lsu, 12-Florida State
4-Seeds: 16-Kansas State, 15-Wisconsin, 14-Purdue, 13-Kansas
5-Seeds: 17-Virginia Tech, 18-Marquette, 19-Mississippi State, 20-VILLANOVA
6-Seeds: 24-IOWA STATE, 23-BUFFALO, 22-WOFFORD, 21-Maryland
7-Seeds: 25-Auburn, 26-Cincinnati, 27-Nevada, 28-Louisville
8-Seeds: 32-UTAH STATE, 31-Iowa, 30-Ucf, 29-Mississippi
9-Seeds: 33-Syracuse, 34-Baylor, 35-Seton Hall, 36-Minnesota
10-Seeds: 40-Tcu, 39-Vcu, 38-Washington, 37-Oklahoma
11-Seeds: 41-Ohio State, 42-Belmont/43-Unc Greensboro, 44-Temple/45-Furman, 46-OREGON


Last Four Byes: Washington, VCU, TCU, Ohio State
Last Four In: Belmont, UNC Greensboro, Temple, Furman
First Four Out: Lipscomb, Florida, Arizona State, Indiana
Next Four Out: Creighton, St. John's, Alabama, NC State