"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

Thursday, November 26, 2015

MU must beat Wisconsin, go 11-7 in Big East, win a tournament game to get to RPI of 53

Despite the big wins in New York, RPI Forecast gives MU less than a 10% chance to go 23-10, which is what it would take to get MU to an RPI of 53 and trip to the NCAA.

According to RPI Forecast and the pure Wins and Losses at www.kenpom.com, MU should finish the regular season 16-15 with an RPI of 177. The good news is this is based on results during which Henry Ellenson's Value Add has been just 0.4 due to his first three games including 12 of 35 shooting and 10 turnovers. The good news is that if Ellenson keeps building on strong play in New York and gets to his projected 7.4 Value Add for the year, that 7-point improvement would tip seven additional wins for Marquette based on www.kenpom.com projected scores to finish 23-8 before the Big East tournament and make the NCAA tournament.

So there is hope as Marquette fans go into the Thanksgiving Weekend very thankful for two exciting and huge wins in New York this week against #22 LSU and Arizona State, as the team won praise by many including Reid Forgrave of Fox Sports.

Unfortunately due to the RPI hit Marquette will take for all the upcoming games against terrible teams, it appears Marquette would need to win all remaining non-conference games including an upset at Wisconsin, go 11-7 in conference and then win a 4th place-5th place Big East tournament game to finish with an RPI of 53 and sneak into the tournament.

That means it would take a 23-10 record to get an NCAA bid - even one more loss to drop to 22-11 plummets Marquette to 69th in RPI based on the RPI Forecast calculator.

Traci Carter's EXCELLENT play that has put him among assists leaders at www.kenpom.com and helped Duane Wilson, Luke Fischer and Haanif Cheatham combine to hit more than 2/3rds of their two-point shots. However, he will be going up against the toughest conference for a point guard - and an 11-7 mark for a team with a freshman point guard looks tough.

However, there is hope. The good news is young teams improve more during the season than other teams, and as the 10th least experience team in the country, MU has a great ceiling. So far the team is the WORST three-point shooting team of the 77 teams in the top six conferences, and MU is the 8th worst at turning the ball over. Assuming Henry Ellenson and Duane Wilson find their three-point stroke and the young team learns to protect the ball moderately well, the team would make a huge stride forward and the 23-10 record represented above would be possible.

In addition to the Fox Sports praise, a second basketball expert (Rob Dauster of NBC Sports) recently called MU one of the most underachieving team in the opening few games and saw the combination of the twin towers and talented guards as enough to rank MU 23rd in the nation in June.

So far only Luke Fischer has played up to expectations based on www.valueaddbasketball.com. He projected to be worth about 3.56 additional points a game, through the team's terrible first three games he was almost there at 3.19, and in the two wins in New York he was right at the 3.56 projection to raise his season total to date to 3.40 - in the top 10% (top 400) of all players.

Beyond Ellenson, other huge improvements from Duane Wilson and others are possible - as well as he is harassing opponents and getting to the rim, if his three-pointer and even free throws start to drop at all the defenses will spread and give MU a shot to be truly great.

Here are the projections for each players (Replacement Level indicates most players were playing no better than a solid replacement player would have been expected to play), followed by where they ranked through the 1-2 start and where they rank now. The start was very bad, the improvement was very dramatic, and the ceiling is high enough to potentially sneak into the tournament - but the margin of error is very small.

PlayerProjectionWhen 1-2NowNBA%
Fischer, Luke 403.56 (458th)3.19 (438th)3.40 (397th)
Cohen, Sandy 52.53 (796th)1.28 (1678th)0.58 (1678th)
Ellenson, Henry 137.40 (58th)ReplacemLevel0.42 (1873rd)91%
Johnson, JaJuan 232.87 (655th)ReplacemLevel0.37 (1936th)2%
Anim, Sacar 21.20 (1623rd)ReplacemLevel0.35 (1941st)
Ellenson, Wally 22ReplacemLevelReplacemLevel0.10 (2365th)
Wilson, Duane 15.27 (192nd)ReplacemLevelReplacemLevel5%
Heldt, Matt 121.00 (1973rd)ReplacemLevelReplacemLevel
Carter, Traci 212.10 (1004th)ReplacemLevelReplacemLevel
Cheatham, Haanif 252.35 (878th)ReplacemLevelReplacemLevel
Marotta, CamReplacemLevelReplacemLevelReplacemLevel

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