"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, February 15, 2010

Regular Season Predictions - weekly update

First things first, we finally decided to join 2006 and create a facebook page. The response so far has been pretty good and it has added some "juice" to the CS staff. FB also auto-links to our Twitter feed if that's your thing.

Now, after Marquette took care of business on Saturday night, there are now six regular-season games remaining and the team stands at 7-5. Many bubble-watch prognosticators are saying Marquette is currently "IN" the NCAA tournament. Even more interesting is that Marquette could potentially be playing for 3rd or 4th in the BE this upcoming Thursday against Pitt. Of course, we wanted to take a step back and view the path forward through a different approach.

  • Point #1 - Marquette needs to go at least 3-3 in their remaining six games in order to make the NCAA tournament for a final record of 19-11 (10-8) in conference. Even that record will probably mean that MU needs to win a game in the BET. No, there is nothing magical about twenty wins, but as Providence will tell you, there is also nothing magical about finishing 10-8 in conference. Putting it this way... if MU goes 3-3 down the stretch and loses their first BET game, how comfortable would you be on Selection Sunday?
  • Point #2 - To feel comfortable, a 4-2 record down the stretch is much preferred, for a final record of 20-10 (11-7). At this point we would be arguing about Marquette's seed more than if they are getting in.
  • Point #3 - Finishing in the top four of conference will probably require finishing 5-1 down the stretch, for a final record of 21-9 (12-6). Pomeroy's projections are that #4 will finish 12-6. Going back the last two years, #4 has actually finished with thirteen wins, so even twelve wins may not be enough.
Given those assertions, how is Marquette tracking?

Projections for the remaining six games.

A few things to emphasize here.
  • Even though they're highlighted, don't get hung up on the win percentages ever. A better measure is to look at the predicted margin of victory (or loss). In other words, a 24% chance of victory is less scary than a prediction of a six point loss.
  • The Pittsburgh game is our easiest remaining game of the season. Better turn out on Thursday.
  • How the hell are we predicted to lose at Cincy, St. Johns, and Seton Hall? The answer comes in two parts. Life is hard on the road, especially for a team like Marquette that relies so much on shooting the ball well. Marquette's offense and defense are both worse on the road and better at home, and that trend applies almost universally in the league (just ask Georgetown). The rims are softer at home. Second, Cincy and Seton Hall are about as good statistically as South Florida and we're playing in their gyms.
  • Louisville is trending up, and that should be the toughest home game of the season.
  • Finally, these predictions are a snapshot in time as of today. Personally, they seem a bit bearish. Next week they'll almost certainly look different.
Given the three points and the predictions above, how are things looking as of today for Marquette's post-season?

Point #1 (going 3-3 for 10 wins) - The percentages of finishing with ten wins or more is about 65%. That's good news, but there is a dark side here. It also means there is about a 1/3 chance that Marquette is predicted to finish 2-4 down the stretch. Lose against Pitt on Thursday and Marquette has only a 12% of finishing with 11 wins or more. In other words, if Marquette doesn't take care of business against Pitt, we start to need some luck to make the tourney.

Point #2 (going 4-2 for 11 wins) - There is about a 30% chance that Marquette finishes 11-7 in conference. Win on Thursday and the percentages improve above 40%, but we are not close to the position of arguing about seeding... yet.

Point #3 (going 5-1 for 12 wins) - Unfortunately, chances are not very good for Marquette right now. There's only about an 8% chance of finishing with 12 wins or more. Even with a win on Thursday, odds are slim. There will need to be some luck involved here.

  • Despite the feel-good nature of the current win streak, Marquette is not a lock for the NCAA tournament.
  • The team will have to win a game (or two) on the road. They just have to.
  • There is a lot more downside to the Pitt game than there is upside. The game that's coming up is a must-win, so start the countdown to Thursday night now. Also, word is that the game will be a gold-out.
We'll have more on Pitt later this week.


Anonymous said...

I don't get it...How could MU be playing for 3rd place? They got beat by WV, who is one game ahead of them in the standings and doesn't play anybody tough in the near future.

So they're behind Syracuse, Villanova, and WVU, no matter what.

Still....Playing for fourth sounds pretty good to me.

JT said...

I think the Pitt game on Thursday might be our hardest game left on the schedule. I dont think anyone should overlook this match up.

Rob Lowe said...

@Tim, you are almost certainly right. It appears that the best MU could do is to finish 4th.

@Jeffrey, I don't think anyone is overlooking Pitt. In fact, it's a must-win game if Marquette wants to secure a NCAA tourney berth. As for it being the toughest remaining game on the schedule, we can just agree to disagree.

ICHeights said...

Not only are these games big in our pursuit of the NCAA tourney, but it also seems that the upcoming 6 games are all against teams we need to hold tie-breakers over to earn a better seed for the team's run in the BE tourney.

Unknown said...

Are you serious? You think Pitt is the easiet game on your schedule??? I dont know if youve seen but we are doing pretty well on the road this year in the Big East with wins at Cuse, at Uconn, at Cincy... If you really think Pittsburgh is the easiet game left on your schedule then you have no business being a sports blogger. You play St. Johns for chirst sake.

Get a clue and have fun in the NIT while Pitt is a 5 seed and the only guaranteed tournament team you have remaining.

ICHeights said...

Relax Alex, the stats don't lie my friend, how'd that game against Indiana feel?

Unknown said...

You continue to amaze me with your basketball knowledge... Considering we had 2 of our best and most experienced players in Gilbert Brown and Jermaine Dixon not playing in that game I would say it wasn't that bad of a loss.

Why don't you ask me how our last game went with West Virgina. Try beating two top 5 teams in the country then come talk to me...

Brendon said...

I'm convinced that a 3-3 finish to the conference season would send Marquette to MSG on the wrong side of the bubble, needing a win just to get to the cutline and a second win to be fairly certain of a bid.

That's a projection based on how things are falling around the bubble. The cutline could move up or down between now and then.

I'm of the opinion that 21 wins (including the Big East Tournament) means Marquette is pretty much a lock (maybe 80-90 percent to get in). 20 wins (including the Big East Tournament) would probably put Marquette smack on the bubble -- maybe a 30-40 percent chance of making the field.

I think I'm a bit bearish on how strong Marquette is positioned right now in regards to the NCAA Tournament but perhaps a bit bullish on how they'll fare down the stretch.