"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, January 29, 2020

MU Most Balanced Since 2013; One of Most Balanced in Country

With Markus Howard averaging 28.3 points per game, a solid two points more than the second best scorer in the nation and more than five points better than the next best power conference scorer (Luke Garza), "BALANCE" is not the first word that pops to mind. In fact, after programming issues kept me from running the numbers at www.valueaddbasketball.com this season until today, Howard does calculate as one of only four players of the 4,061 D1 players worth more than nine additional points per game to MUs score each game over how many points we estimated MU would score without him.

Best Offensive PlayersTeamHeightOffDefValue
Loren Cristian Jackson #1Akron5-foot-89.830.029.82
Luka Garza #55Iowa6-foot-119.45-2.3311.78
Payton Pritchard #3Oregon6-foot-29.30-1.1010.40
Markus Howard #0Marquette5-foot-119.07-0.279.33
Isaiah Stewart #33Washington6-foot-98.71-2.3411.05

However, Value Add measures every stat including defensive stops and level of competition to determine each players value above replacement, until today, BALANCE is the word. The "top 20%" of all players continues to be the dividing line for players who truly impact who wins most games, and for the first time since the Elite 8 team of 2013 six Marquette players make that cut.

First, let's look at my first top 20 run of the year, which does place Markus a bit lower than www.kenpom.com (where he ranked 4th in the country). For those who have followed Value Add Basketball ratings in the past, Markus rises and falls faster than just about any other player - and I did consider the Butler game one of his worst, but he often follows up a bad one with an incredible game and shoots up to the top again. As of today, here is the top 20, and then the six players from both Marquette and Butler - the only two Big East teams with six elite players so far this year.

1Luka Garza #55Iowa6-foot-119.45-2.3311.78
2Onyeka Okongwu #21USC6-foot-98.67-2.6911.35
3Jalen Smith #25Maryland6-foot-108.00-3.3511.35
4Isaiah Stewart #33Washington6-foot-98.71-2.3411.05
5Malachi Flynn #22San Diego St.6-foot-18.59-2.0610.65
6Paul Reed #4DePaul6-foot-96.48-3.9210.40
7Payton Pritchard #3Oregon6-foot-29.30-1.1010.40
8Devon Dotson #1Kansas6-foot-27.66-2.6610.32
9Daniel Oturu #25Minnesota6-foot-107.73-2.5310.26
10Obi Toppin #1Dayton6-foot-97.53-2.6910.22
11Fatts Russell #1Rhode Island5-foot-107.76-2.2710.03
12Loren Cristian Jackson #1Akron5-foot-89.830.029.82
13Reggie Perry #1Mississippi St.6-foot-107.19-2.489.67
14Brady Manek #35Oklahoma6-foot-98.18-1.319.49
15Tyrese Haliburton #22Iowa St.6-foot-57.89-1.609.49
16Paul Atkinson #20Yale6-foot-107.33-2.169.49
17Trayce Jackson-Davis #4Indiana6-foot-97.50-1.999.49
18Freddie Gillespie #33Baylor6-foot-95.96-3.419.36
19Markus Howard #0Marquette5-foot-119.07-0.279.33
20Desmond Bane #1TCU6-foot-67.46-1.789.23
302Brendan Bailey #1Marquette6-foot-83.57-1.094.66
518Sacar Anim #2Marquette6-foot-53.22-0.323.54
623Theo John #4Marquette6-foot-91.65-1.533.18
693Jamal Cain #23Marquette6-foot-72.09-0.852.94
802Koby McEwen #25Marquette6-foot-41.75-0.852.60
61Sean McDermott #22Butler6-foot-66.26-1.217.47
132Bryce Nze #10Butler6-foot-74.11-2.136.24
178Kamar Baldwin #3Butler6-foot-13.85-1.825.66
525Aaron Thompson #2Butler6-foot-22.25-1.273.52
561Jordan Tucker #1Butler6-foot-72.47-0.923.40
589Bryce Golden #33Butler6-foot-92.44-0.843.28

Note that while Howard is by far the best offensive player, Theo John is in the top 20% for the second straight year and Brendan Bailey emerges as a new player in the top 20% due to great defense that erases opponents' scores (John's -1.53 is the best on the team with Bailey second at -1.09).

The last time Marquette placed six in the top 20 percent, it resulted in quite a run. MU went to the Elite 8 with these six players for only the second time since the National Title Game in 1977:

55Davante GardnerMU 20136-foot-85.07-0.946.7
206Jamil WilsonMU 20136-foot-73.13-0.994.59
228Vander BlueMU 20136-foot-43.21-0.234.4
322Junior CadouganMU 20136-foot-11.19-0.63.67
542Trent LockettMU 20136-foot-51.44-0.872.58
626Chris OtuleMU 20136-foot-111.59-0.432.25

So far this season only 21 teams match MU with six or more players in the top 20 percent, but the first 16 teams on this list put Marquette in very good company of teams that have won some great games. The last five teams on the list are not as impressive overall - ranking 55th to 76th a KenPom, so balance is not guarantee of success, but for the first time since the Elite 8 run MU can win even if the top couple of players are off on a given day.

Team - Players in to 20%TotalValue
Ohio St.731.46
West Virginia631.33
Michigan St.628.82
Texas Tech626.87
East Tennessee St.622.57
Louisiana Tech622.54
North Texas621.32

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