"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, January 23, 2009

Marquette to Face DePaul at the Bradley Center

Cripes. Is it Saturday yet? After a scheduling quirk that resulted in Marquette having two consecutive bye weeks, the team finally returns to the hardwood tomorrow. It's not a moment too soon, because tomorrow's game returns to a brutal stretch that will see MU face three teams in eight days. While I'm sure that lots of folks are looking forward to the Big Monday matchup at Notre Dame, the team has to play DePaul.

DePaul (8-11, 0-6) is not a good team. They have two decent players in 6'5 sophomore Dar Tucker and 6'10 sophomore Mac Koshwal. Check out Rosiak's blog entry for more information on those players, as well as some quotes from Wainright. However, I'd like to point out two things about those guys. First, just like last year, Dar Tucker shoots on one out of every three possessions when he's on the floor. He may be scoring a lot, but that's because he takes a lot of shots. Second, neither Tucker nor Koshwal have an offensive efficiency greater than 104. When your two top contributors are only modestly efficient, that's not good.

Even more concerning, there is a question if the DePaul program will ever revive, inspiring a mostly thoughtful thread about the state of DePaul hoops and the comparison with Marquette. I hate to say DePaul is done, but things do not look hopeful for the rest of the season. Let's see what happens after they fire Wainright after this season.

Moving on to the Opponent Strengths and Weaknesses. As always, most of this information comes from Pomeroy's scouting report and game plan.

DePaul Strengths

  • Not putting opponents on the line – DePaul is #8 in the country at defensive free throw rate (FTR). They only allow opponents to shoot free throws at a rate of 24.1% (FTA / FGA). In contrast, Marquette has a FTR of 47.4%
  • Not getting their shot blocked – DePaul is #16 in the country at not getting an offensive shot blocked. Like that stat will do anything but get better against Marquette.
  • Protecting the ball – DePaul is #32 in the country at protecting the ball. They only turn the ball over on 17.9% of all possessions.
DePaul Weaknesses
  • Offensive eFG% - DePaul is #274 in the country at effective field goal percentage. They only have an eFG% of 45.7% (MU is at 53.2%). This includes them being #335 in the country at 3-point field goal percentage (27.0%), and #319 in the country at FT percentage (61.9%)
  • Giving up offensive rebounds – DePaul allows opponents to get an offensive rebounding percentage of 36.8% (#291 in the country)
  • Forcing turnovers – DePaul is #220 in the country at forcing turnovers (only 20% of all defensive possessions result in a turnover)

Specific Statistics Recommendations (In order of importance)
1. Limit DePaul to an eFG% of 41% or less (~22 made field goals - including 5 threes). That's three below their season average and gives a 98% chance of Marquette win (23 point win)
2. Achieve an eFG% of 56% or higher (~28 made field goals, including 7 threes)
3. Force DePaul to a turnover rate of 22% or higher (~15 turnovers), which is two more than their average
4. Hold DePaul to an offensive rebounding percentage of 31% or less (12 offensive rebounds), which is two less than their season average
5. Turn the ball over on 16% of possessions or less (~11 turnovers), which is two less than average

Bottom Line
Pomeroy predicts a 97% of Marquette victory, and I am actually pretty close (98% of victory). In a slightly slower game (67 possessions), Marquette should win easily due to a significant advantage on field goal percentage. Turnover rate and offensive rebounding should be a decent advantage for Marquette. Despite the season trends, expect the free throw rates to be close for both teams. Marquette should win this game easily.

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