"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, November 21, 2012

Game MVP J. Wilson (+6), Gardner (+4) & FT shooting (+4) give MU 8-point win over USC

In the past I've complained when fans over-emphasized missed free throws in losses rather than focusing on which of the Four Factors decided the game.  However, I've added a "FT%+-" line to give a true indication of the impact free throws have on a game in addition to the Four Factors.  Here is the box from the win over USC.

Marquette113.3052.9%17.5%32.1%41.2%   +4
Average100.0048.0%21.1%32.7%37.6%   -
vs. USC100.7146.4%15.6%27.3%26.8%   +2

Every year D1 basketball players hit 69% of their free throws, so "FT%+-" indicates how many points a team added or took away at the line by their shooting.  Tonight MU took 21 free throws, so a typical team would have hit 14 of those on a given night, but MU hit 18 and thus scored 4 more points (+4 in far right) than they would have based just on the Four Factors.  So without getting into the more complicated math (1-on-1s, possible offensive rebounds off missed free throws) we can say MU would have just won 68-64 on an average night at the line.

As for the Four Factors:

eFG%. MU shot better than average (52.9% eFG) and defended better than average (46.4% allowed).  The key was Game MVP Jamil Wilson's 7 of 9 with three treys (94% eFG%).

TO%.  MU did a better than average job of protecting the ball (17.5% of trips were turnovers), but USC was even better (15.6%).

OR%.  MU was just below average in Offensive Rebounds.  Davante Gardner entered the game getting 32.1% of all MU misses - the best total in the country by 5% over the 2nd best player in America - but that was the team average as USC's 7-footers were able to hold Gardner to 1 offensive rebound.  However, the good news is that Marquette did an even better job of keeping USC off the boards by allowing only 27.3% to USC, after entering the game only 205th in defensive rebounding.  Last year Jae Crowder's 21% put him in the top 5% of all players, but this year the two new guards have been key to keep the number respectable despite noone in the top 500. The best defensive rebounder is Jake Thomas (19%), followed by Juan Anderson and Trent Lockett (16%), then Jamil Wilson, Steve Taylor and Chris Otule (15%) and Gardner (14%).

FT%. MU was also above average in getting to the line with a 41.2% FT%, meaning they were able to shoot that percentage of Free Throws vs. Field Goals while holding USC to only 26.8% by not fouling.

Overall last night J. Wilson was clearly the star, worth almost a +6 to MU (5.927 according to Dean Olivier's NetAvg, which unlike Value Add does not adjust for level of opponent but is a quicker single game tool).

Jamil Wilson, F7 (3) 9 2 2 241900125.927
Davante Gardner, F3 5 6 6 151222103.586
Juan Anderson, F1 (1) 1 1 2 20401111.518
Chris Otule, C5 7 - - 111001101.384
Trent Lockett, G2 5 4 4 24801010.820
Junior Cadougan, G3 7 5 6 141165000.369
Vander Blue, G3 11 - - 00621020.000
Derrick Wilson, G1 3 - 1 03200000.000
Jake Thomas, G- 3 - - 03020120.000
Steve Taylor Jr., G- - - - 00000000.000

That ties J. Wilson with Gardner's two Game MVPs and one 2nd place MVP for 13 points on my 5-3-1 scoring system.  This was the third time this season that Anderson has been the third best player on the court for MU, as he hit a trey and grabbed two offensive rebounds to nudge out Chris Otule, who I'd subjectively say was actually the third best player tonight - but kudos to both.  Here is the tally for the year based purely on Net Avg:

Game MVPs1st2nd3rdPts
J. Wilson21013

Despite RPI hit from loss to Butler, MU leaves Maui in decent shape

Despite the heart break of the last second loss to Butler, and the bad ramifications it will play in having Mississippi State instead of UNC factoring into the RPI at the end of the season (MU is projected to have the 53rd best RPI by Forecast RPI), the USC win may be a good one.  

While Pomeroy had USC as outside the top 150, I actually believe Value Add’s preseason 84th ranking was more accurate in this case.  As a starting point I believe Pomeroy bases his rating on the percent of a team’s production that is returning, but in this case five of the USC’s players were transfers who brought a lot of Value into the program after sitting out last year, including:

JT Terrell (21 points) and Ari Stewart from Wake Forest, Aaron Fuller came from Iowa, Jio Fontan (9 assists) from Fordham, Omar Oraby (4 of 5 shooting by the 7-footer) from Rice.

I believe these guys playing for Kevin O’Neill, one of the greatest defensive coaches in the name who made USC the 2nd best defense in the country his first year there, will only get better and at very least be a top 100 win on a neutral court if not perhaps even a bubble team.  In addition, I believe the Pac 12 will be much better than last year when the conference’s poor season pulled down every opponent’s RPI.  This year the Pac 12 should have at least four NCAA bids (UCLA, California, Arizona and Stanford), and it’s possible USC could join Colorado and Oregon State as bubble teams by the end of the year.

So MU leaves Maui in pretty strong shape as on pace to being a solid NCAA team.  Pomeroy projects MU to lose by double digits twice this year (at Florida and at Louisville), so if Blue is out at even a week then our percentage on winning in Gainesville next week will drop even below the 14% chance Pomeroy gives us.  However, don't get too down on a loss there.  MU is passing the eye test right now as a team that everyone saw lose by one point on an impossible shot and will be 5-1 after taking care of Maryland-Baltimore Monday.

An NCAA bid and at least one win this year will get the players ready for the 2014 run. 

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