"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

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Player Cards for the 1977 and 2003 Greats To Whom Markus Will Be Compared

As we contemplate where Markus Howard ultimately ranks among the all-time greats, we finished a massive upgrade of the playing cards for the Value Add Basketball game. A couple of the sheets include the greats that will be compared to Howard after he is done this year.

Having never seen anything like the last two games, only history will determine where Markus ranks among all-time greats. The game (which remember is free so not selling anything here) includes greats from Wilt to Anthony Davis to last year's stars. The links are now in PDF from and four to a page broken down by team name.

Alabama 1977 to Duke 2010

Florida 2006 to Iowa 2002

Kansas 1957 to LSU 2006

Marquette 1977 to Notre Dame 1970

Ohio State 1960 to Purdue 2018

San Diego State 2011 to Texas Southern (UTEP) 1966

UCLA 1972 to Wyoming 1943

Click here for instructions if you want to play. We just topped 16,000 clicks on the instructions to the game, so glad some have enjoyed it. Having just played games featuring Pistol Pete's LSU team, and Larry Bird's Indiana State team in my all-time March Madness, I can't wait to produce Markus Howard's card for the ages when this season is all said and done.

The game also measure's each team's defense, and while Markus deserves all the credit as the one-man wrecking crew on offense, Wojo's detractors should note www.kenpom.com now ranks MU's defense as even better than the offense at 28th in the country. In every game but the Wisconsin loss, MU has allowed at least 8 fewer points that trips down the court. The last time the defense was this good was the 2012 Sweet 16 team.

Enjoy it, The only teams with both an offense and a defense in the top 33 are:

1.       Auburn
2.       Duke
3.       Kentucky
4.       Kansas
5.       Louisville
6.       Marquette
7.       Maryland
8.       Michigan
9.       Michigan State
10.   North Carolina
11.   Ohio State
12.   Purdue

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Future (Dawson Garcia signs!) And Past (2003 Marquette vs Louisville 2013 and other greats)

The break between games gave a chance to look at the future, with the huge signing of 6-foot-11 5-star Dawson Garcia, as well as resuming my board game of all-time greats with the 2003 Final 4 team playing the 2013 Louisville national champs.

Since I last posted here on the debut of the all-time greats game, we finished the beta testing and more than 14,500 clicked on this link to the instructions and free game. Please give feedback or ask questions at 404.606.3163 via text of call if you try the game.

Unfortunately, Dwyane Wade fouled out with 4:22 left in the game, freeing Russ Smith to finish with 21 points, and Louisville forced 19 turnovers while only giving up 12. One difference in the game from real life is that the game uses a set number of possessions whereas those two teams would have played more. Here is a photo of how the game is played.

If you click on the images you can see the score sheet with stats for each player as well as the playing cards for the starters on each team.

While the free game provides playing cards for 48 teams, I group them by conference. Marquette also lost to 2007 Georgetown 62-74, but defeated 2014 Creighton 84-83 and 2002 Cincinnati 73-62. My tiebreaker in my Big East standings is average score differentials so the current standings are:

2004 UConn 3-1, 71-47 average score
2013 Louisville 2-1, 72-65
2018 Villanova 2-1, 74-69
2007 Georgetown 1-1, 76-71
2002 Cincinnati 1-1, 71-75
2003 Marquette 2-2, 68-73
2014 Creighton 0-2, 72-85
2010 Butler 0-2, 54-80

If you are wondering about 2003 Syracuse, they are 4-0 in my ACC, where 2009 Pitt is 1-2.

The other conference leaders are 2008 Kansas at 4-0 in the Big 12, 2018 Purdue at 3-0 in the Big ten, 2017 Gonzaga and Oregon both at 2-1 in the Pac12, and 2019 Auburn did stun 2012 Kentucky in the closing seconds of the two 3-0 SEC teams.

Monday, November 18, 2019

What started out as a great week for #mubb just went splat

We're glad you're here, cause we really need to talk this out. #mubb got a great win against Purdue, in come from behind fashion,which was great. However, they then went on the road against a hated rival and not only lost but lost in what has become a signature failure mode in the Wojo era. So we talk through the week that was and figure out given the small sample size if changes need to be made in the line-up and/or approach. We close out the podcast with a discussion around recruiting news, specifically Dawson Garcia. Enjoy, we'll get through this together! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/m5xxuk/scrambledeggs_edit_111719.mp3

Monday, November 11, 2019

#MUBB got the win and the Markus record out of the way, now the work begins

Solid, if unrevealing, win for #MUBB in the season opener against Loyola Maryland. We talk about the game and if there is anything of consequence to take away from it. (1:30). One important thing that came out of the game is Markus Howard setting the all-time MU scoring record so we talk about the record and Markus in general (8:00). We then turn our chatter to the upcoming Gavitt game against Purdue. We talk about what we think will happen, what a MU victory has to look like, and what concerns we have about the game going in to it(15:00). Then we discuss that other game on the schedule this week with that team 90 miles west of MU central. That's right it's #BadgerHateWeek, so we get into it and try not to overlook Wisconsin(29:27). Enjoy! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/rt84gv/scrambledeggs_edit_111019.mp3

Monday, November 04, 2019

Let's light this candle! #mubb season kick-off pod

We made it, we got through the off-season with a lot of scars but we're now ready to roll so buckle up cause it's gonna be a long one. We kick-off the pod with some discuss of what take-aways(if any) we have from the secret scrimmage and the exhibition game (3:07). We then tackle our annual tradition of going nearly game by game and call our shots in terms of wins and losses for the season....one of us has been doubling down on his optimism pills (11:28). Once the season has been forecast we then tackle big picture questions on the season like what is the floor and the ceiling for this team and what will make this a successful season (38:12). As always, enjoy! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/i3n6zw/scrambledeggs_edit_110319.mp3

Friday, November 01, 2019

Marquette Non-Conference Schedule Analysis

Earlier this week, Matt Norlander of CBS Sports released a ranking of the best and worst non-conference schedules. Marquette checked in tied for #14 in the country. While that definitely indicates a tough schedule, what I really like is how it is constructed. The best part of this schedule is not how hard it is, but rather how well it is set up to generate wins for Marquette against what I believe will be a harder schedule on paper than on the court.

Considering kenpom is one of the metrics factored into the NET and kenpom had the highest correlation to NET last year, I am going to compare the kenpom rankings over the years of previous schedules to determine where this one ranks. This is also the metric Norlander used for his article linked above. Further, I'm going to break down games by presumed Quadrants since that is where the Selection Committee will be looking come March.

One more note, I will strictly be using kenpom numbers for this. The reason is for a fair comparison. The alternative is to mix RPI and NET numbers, so to have one consistent metric, the one that came closest to mimicking NET was kenpom, and kenpom also goes back over Wojo's tenure for a full and fair comparison. I am adding a Quadrant 5 as well, to reflect the sub-300 home games that really drag on a team's strength of schedule. Here is how Marquette fared against these Quadrants by season in the past, as well as how many of each quadrant they play in 2019-20.

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Record Win Pctg 2020
Q1A 0-3 1-0 0-1 0-2 1-1 2-7 0.222 2
Q1B 0-0 0-1 2-1 1-0 3-1 6-3 0.667 3
Q2A 0-0 0-0 0-0 1-0 0-0 1-0 1.000 1
Q2B 3-0 2-0 0-1 0-1 0-0 5-2 0.714 0
Q3 1-0 0-1 1-0 2-0 1-0 5-1 0.833 0
Q4 1-1 4-0 3-0 3-0 4-0 15-1 0.938 5
Q5 3-0 4-0 3-0 2-0 2-0 14-0 1.000 1

So what does this tell us? First, Q1A games are very hard to win. That said, Marquette has flourished in the next three tiers, going 12-5 against Q1B and all of Q2. It's nice to see 4 of the projected 6 toughest games in those categories, insuring opportunities for quality wins. It's also worth noting Marquette is a combined 20-2 in Q3 and Q4 games. The 0.909 winning percentage in those two quadrants tells me that's where you want the bulk of the buy games to be. Q5 might be guaranteed wins, but I don't think you have to look further than the 2016 team to understand why you want to avoid those games. The Ellenson team had the most Q5 games and tied for the most Q4 games played and didn't go to the postseason despite one of only two Q1A wins Marquette has earned in non-con play under Wojo.

To get to the full 12-game schedule, I had to project opponents for the Orlando Invitational. Since we are using kenpom numbers, I projected the most likely opponents based on matchups, which led to neutral site games with USC and Maryland. Before we look at the Quadrant breakdowns, here's a reminder of what each Quadrant features:

Home Neutral Away
Q1A 1-15 1-25 1-40
Q1B 16-30 26-50 41-75
Q2A 31-55 51-75 76-100
Q2B 56-75 76-100 101-135
Q3 76-160 101-200 136-240
Q4 161-299 201+ 241+
Q5 300+

Let's break down the games in each Quadrant for 2020:

Quadrant 1A: Purdue (H), Maryland (N)
Marquette hasn't won a home Q1A game under Wojo, going 0-2. I like their odds to make Purdue the first, though I'm not convinced Purdue will still be Q1A come March. Maryland will be a tough test at any venue, though one of Marquette's two Q1A wins did come at a neutral site, last year against Louisville. Neither of these games are likely to hurt the resume come March.

Quadrant 1B: Wisconsin (A), USC (N), Kansas State (A)
The first thought I had was that having all of these away from home is tough, but then I noted that Marquette is 3-1 in Quadrant 1B games away from home, with the only loss at Indiana. The advantage to having these games away from home is that it gives a lot more cushion to where the teams need to be ranked. Wisconsin seems like to at worst remain top-75 while 86% of Big 12 teams have been top-75 in the past 5 years, so it seems likely that even a down Kansas State should be Q1B. USC is right on the cusp and could fall to Quadrant 2, but would be a solid game regardless, especially as it would mean a win over a Davidson team I believe will likely end up in this category. What I really love about these games is that if Marquette is legitimately good, they should be able to beat these teams on any court.

Quadrant 2A: Davidson (N)
I think this ends up being a Quadrant 1 team by the time the year is done. They have a favorable schedule and will be in the mix for their league title. Another reason why this is the most important game of the year is because of the two neutral site games above this one. With a win over Davidson, Marquette is projected to play two Quadrant 1 games. With a loss, they would be projected to play Quadrant 4 Fairfield and Quadrant 2A Texas A&M. Beating Davidson has a huge schedule impact.

Quadrant 4: Loyola-Maryland (H), Jacksonville (H), Grambling (H), North Dakota State (H), Central Arkansas (H)
Personally, I think the kenpom model is harsh on some of these teams. LMC and NDSU are both projected as Quadrant 3 teams by T-Rank and I feel have a good chance of ending up there. Grambling is another dark horse to reach Quadrant 3. The positive is that the majority of these teams project to the high side of Quadrant 4. Jacksonville could drop to Quadrant 5, but if they do, I expect they will be the only Q5 opponent we see.

Quadrant 5: Robert Morris (H)
I'll admit, this shocked me when I saw the kenpom numbers come out. T-Rank has RMU 78 spots higher in that ranking and second in their league. I'm not sure where the discrepancy is, but the Colonials return the bulk of a team that went 11-7 in their league last year while also adding two solid JUCO players. I feel confident saying this will be a Quadrant 4 team. Also, it's a good trend to see Marquette minimizing these games. Eleven from 2015-17, now just five projected from 2018-20. Well done by the schedule makers.

My final thoughts on the schedule are that there will be a little bit of a shakeup. I think Maryland should remain Q1A but expect that will be our only Q1A non-conference game. My expectation by the end of the season is that we have five games spread from Q1B, Q2A, and Q2B. I think that's the ideal schedule to bolster wins while also giving the Selection Committee some real quality to look at. On the buy end, I think it's more likely we end up with two Quadrant 3 and four Quadrant 4 games. That's a good way to spend money to get some decent wins while minimizing the number of true bottom-feeders.