"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 11, 2009

Breaking Down the Worst Defensive Result of the Year


Fresh off of the worst offensive output of the year, Marquette ended up with their worst defensive effort of the year. In comparison to the season average (1.14 points per possession), Marquette's offense actually wasn't all that off.

Yes, Villanova hit an effective field goal percentage of 69%, which was the best an opponent has shot against MU this season. Furthermore, according to my calculations, it was in the top 5% of all expected results. (I had a 90th percentile upper bound of 64%). Villanova obviously shot lights out, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Going back to the predictions from before the game sheds more insight.

Specific Statistics Recommendations (In order of importance)
1. Stop Villanova from making shots (eFG% of 47% or less). This translates to 22 FGM (including six threes), or three less than their average

  • Result – Villanova eFG% was 69%. Advantage Villanova. Changed margin of victory prediction from minus four to minus twenty-two
2. Make shots (MU eFG% of 53% or higher)
  • Result – Marquette eFG%% was 60.5%. Advantage Marquette. Changed margin of victory prediction from minus twenty-two to minus ten.
3. Force turnovers (TO Rate of 27% or higher for Villanova), which would be about five more turnovers than their average
  • Result – Villanova turnover rate was 14.2%. Advantage Villanova. Changed margin of victory prediction from minus ten to minus sixteen
4. Prevent offensive rebounds (Villanova OR% of 22% or less), or keep them to about four less OR's than their average
  • Result – ‘Nova OR% was 28.1%. Advantage Villanova. Changed margin of victory prediction from minus sixteen to minus fifteen (Note – model prediction was ‘Nova OR% of 31%, so the recommendation was based of generating a victory)
5. Protect the ball (MU turnover rate of 13% or less), or about three turnovers less than average
  • Result – MU TO% was 15.8%. Advantage Villanova. Changed margin of victory prediction from minus fifteen to minus thirteen. (Note – model prediction was MU TO% of 18.5%)
6. Get offensive rebounds around the season average (MU OR% of 33% or more), or right around MU's season average
  • Result – MU OR% was 17.6%. Advantage Villanova. Changed margin of victory prediction from minus thirteen to minus sixteen.
That is a lot of "Advantage Villanova" right there. Looking at the recommendations from the preview, we see that not only did Villanova win on the shooting percentage, but they also won on offensive rebounding and turnovers. For the second game in a row, MU lost the turnover battle. Villanova shot well, but it wasn't just that.

So was it MU's declining defense or just a hot Villanova team? The honest answer is that it's probably a bit of both. Back on 1/21, when Villanova was 2-3 and coming off a loss to UConn, they had a moving average efficiency margin of only 3.0. (I know that's a mouthful, but it's a 5 game average of the difference between offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency) That's barely a 0.500 team. However, their efficiency margin has gradually grown and is now all the way up to 19.3. Put another way, Villanova is playing at the level of a team that should go 16-2 in conference. They are definitely hot.

On the other hand, Marquette is heading in the opposite direction. We can see that both the offense and the defense are trending... poorly. The team may have peaked early, with a peak right around the Providence/DPU#1 games, where Marquette had a moving efficiency average of 24.7. However, the team has been declining down to their present efficiency margin average of 5.2. Again put another way, Marquette is playing 0.634 ball (or like a team that should win 11-12 games in conference). Luckily they've already won nine.

As for whether or not this is a correctable situation or one that cannot fundamentally be changed, I'll remain an optimist. Regardless, it'll be good for the team to be back home. Hopefully they'll manage to get themselves on track this weekend before that brutal final stretch.


Oliver said...

I am still optimistic on this team. They are a group that is lopsided so they will have a wider swing of highs and lows than most teams. The tide just needs to turn by the NCAA tournament and there is time for that.

This is a team that could (emphesize could) get on a roll and go to the final four. Few teams can say that, so I will continue to be hopeful until the end.

greyCat said...

Wonderful job Rob. You focus on the critical factors and provide a direct explanation on what happened.

I am also still high on Marquette's prospects. Your guards still have a few more accomplishments to record before they move on. Best of luck going forward.