"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

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Marquette's Non-Con Check-In

 Maryland is chasing a 1-seed | Photo by G Fiume - Getty Images

I'm going to use this edition of the S-Curve update to look back at Marquette's non-con opponents, what we said at the time, and where they are now. We'll go chronologically:

Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds (13-14, 5-9 in Patriot League)
NET: 245
kenpom: 262
What we said: "They should be right in the middle of a four-team dogfight for the Patriot League title, though Colgate will be the favorites. If they stay healthy, there is a realistic change for this to be a Quadrant 3 (NET ranking 76-160) game."
What they are: The downside is this team has virtually no chance of being a Quadrant 3 game anymore. However, what we said about health may be the reason. The Greyhounds were without starting center Santiago Aldama for the first 22 games of the season. Since he made his debut, they are 4-1 including a win this past weekend over Patriot League leader Colgate behind 22 points & 8 rebounds from Aldama. They could be a dark horse conference tourney pick.

Purdue Boilermakers (14-12, 7-8 in Big 10)
NET: 33
kenpom: 26
What we said: "I almost certainly think the T-Rank [8th preseason] above is too bullish. Most pundits have the Boilers as a top-half Big 10 team and it seems foolish to not expect them to make the NCAA Tournament. The question is still who will score."
What they are: Despite a mediocre record, the Boilers are still metric darlings and on the bubble for NCAA selection. Today's forecast has them out as 2 wins over .500 simply isn't good enough, but they are very close to being in. The problem has been consistent scoring -- no one is averaging more than Trevion Williams' 11.0 ppg.

UW-Madison Badgers (15-10, 8-6 in Big 10)
NET: 31
kenpom: 28
What we said: "The most likely scenario is a team that is situated right on the bubble throughout the season. Marquette fans should feel cautiously optimistic going into this game. Without Happ, this won't be the same UW-Madison team, but Greg Gard still boasts a .763 winning percentage at the Kohl Center, and visitor wins there rarely come easy."
What they are: After a rocky start, the Badgers are on the right side of the bubble. Nate Reuvers has emerged as an Ethan Happ-lite and a stingy defense and home court has been enough to keep up their mostly winning ways. And while Marquette fans were optimistic heading to the Kohl Center, it's safe to say that day's loss has proven to be more consistent with what this Badger team has become, as they are 11-1 at home this year.

Robert Morris Colonials (15-12, 11-3 in Northeast)
NET: 220
kenpom: 214
What we said: "They have the top-of-the-roster quality and overall depth to be one of the best teams in their league. Is it enough to pull off an upset in Milwaukee? Not likely, but this will likely be a top-half of Quadrant 4 game."
What they are: While RMU is second in the NEC, league leader Merrimack is NCAA Tournament ineligible, so the Colonials are trending toward the 1-seed. They have a huge game at St. Francis (PA) tonight that could decide the team that plays all NEC Tournament games on their home court. The top-half of Q4 prediction looks dead on.

Davidson Wildcats (13-11, 7-5 in A-10)
NET: 78
kenpom: 67
What we said: "This is a team that is going to win 20+ games, has a legit shot at winning their conference, and should be at least in the mix for an at-large berth come Selection Sunday."
What they are: Can we have a do-over on this one? While the Wildcats gave Marquette fits for 35 minutes before Markus Howard finished them off, they never got going and are the most disappointing team on Marquette's non-con schedule in terms of missing expectations. They have trended up of late, but it seems unlikely this will reach the Quadrant 1 status we hoped for before the season.

USC Trojans (19-7, 8-5 in Pac-12)
NET: 49
kenpom: 55
What we said: "Their raw talent will earn them wins but they are projected almost across the board as a middle of the pack Pac-12 team. If it all comes together, they could challenge for an at-large bid, but while they will almost certainly win their first round Advocare matchup with Fairfield, this is a team that Marquette should beat."
What they are: USC is a middle-of-the-pack Pac-12 team, but the league is so logjammed that they are also just one game out of first. Onyeka Okongwu has been a beast, helping this team to challenge for that at-large bid we expected (currently projected in). They did indeed beat Fairfield before falling to Marquette behind Markus Howard's 51-point performance.

Maryland Terrapins (21-4, 11-3 Big 10)
NET: 7
kenpom: 8
What we said: "On paper, they are the best team Marquette could see in the non-conference, but pundits may be underestimating how important Fernando was on both ends of the floor. They will overwhelm some teams with sheer talent, but when it comes to other deep, high-major rosters, someone will have to emerge as a star."
What they are: They are the best team Marquette saw in the non-conference on the court, too. Largely because Jalen Smith is trending towards All-American status and Anthony Cowan has been a stud as a senior. They hammered Marquette in Orlando and are probably the best bet to steal a 1-seed if anyone ahead of them slips thanks to gaudy Q1 numbers and opportunities.

Jacksonville Dolphins (12-15, 5-7 Atlantic Sun)
NET: 250
kenpom: 231
What we said: "Jacksonville is one of the two teams on the schedule that are effectively duds. They are a bottom-half of the Atlantic Sun team and will almost certainly be fighting to stay in the top-300 of NET."
What they are: The Dolphins haven't been great, but have been better than expected. They are right in the middle of the A-Sun and safely inside the top-300 in NET. They aren't a help to Marquette's resume, but are certainly better than some of the lower quality buys we've seen in the past.

Kansas State Wildcats (9-16, 2-10 Big 12)
NET: 95
kenpom: 96
What we said: "To me, K-State feels like a team that is about to fall sharply. Weber has struggled for consistency and his most notable achievement in Manhattan was largely due to benefiting from playing a 16-seed in the second round. They should still be a good defensive team, but I don't think they will be as good as they were last year...Projections have them as a bubble team, but they look more like a NIT team that lacks the firepower to compete for a NCAA bid."
What they are: The Wildcats definitely fell off sharply. They are at the bottom of the Big 12 and seem unlikely to even qualify as a Quadrant 1 road win (top-75). The defense has been better than the offense, but not close to Weber's past teams. Barring a miracle run in the Big 12 Tournament, their only chance of playing in the postseason is if they are paying to for the privilege.

Grambling State Tigers (13-13, 7-6 SWAC)
NET: 305
kenpom: 310
What we said: "As stunning as this is to say, Grambling is going to be good. It might only be "for the SWAC" good, but considering what this program has been for the past 15 years, that is an accomplishment."
What they are: This team definitely has not delivered. We were hoping for a run at the SWAC title, but after a 3-0 league start, they've sputtered, including losing their last two games at league leaders PVAMU and Texas Southern. They are better than the sub-350 RPI Grambling teams of the past, but are still a dud compared to what their roster projected to be in the preseason.

North Dakota State Bison (19-7, 10-2 Summit League)
NET: 131
kenpom: 122
What we said: "The Bison showed promise last year and the table is set for them to win their league and return to the NCAA Tournament. In 5 seasons, Dave Richman has 4 campaigns with 19+ wins and should be confident his team can repeat that feat this year...this is a high-ceiling team that should be a Quadrant 3 opportunity."
What they are: This one we pegged perfectly. The Bison are tied atop the loss column and have already won 19 games while establishing themselves as a Quadrant 3 win for Marquette. They will be one of the favorites to get to the NCAA Tournament from the Summit.

Central Arkansas Bears (9-17, 8-7 Southland)
NET: 309
kenpom: 272
What we said: "I expect them to finish over .500 in league play and contend for a top-half finish. While they will likely be one of the low points on the schedule, when the worst opponents on your schedule look like NET 250-275 opponents, it's a lot better than the 3 average sub-300 opponents MU has faced in Wojo's first 5 seasons."
What they are: The predictive metrics like UCA better than NET, where they are indeed a sub-300 team. They have been unlucky this year, losing 4 games in overtime and another by 1-point to Duke-killers Stephen F Austin. At this point, their ceiling is probably finishing just inside the top-300. 

Let's check out the S-Curve:

2-Seeds: 8-Villanova 7-DAYTON 6-DUKE 5-MARYLAND
3-Seeds: 9-Florida State 10-AUBURN 11-SETON HALL 12-Creighton
4-Seeds: 16-Penn State 15-OREGON 14-Kentucky 13-Louisville
5-Seeds: 17-West Virginia 18-Butler 19-Marquette 20-Colorado
6-Seeds: 24- Michigan 23-Michigan State 22-Iowa 21-Ohio State
7-Seeds: 25-Arizona 26-Lsu 27-Wisconsin 28-Byu
8-Seeds: 32-Rutgers 31-HOUSTON 30-Xavier 29-Illinois
9-Seeds: 33-Texas Tech 34-Georgetown 35-Oklahoma 36-Arizona State
10-Seeds: 40-St. Mary's 39-Wichita State 38-Rhode Island 37-Usc
11-Seeds: 41-NORTHERN IOWA 42-Florida 43-Virginia 44-East Tennessee State/45-Richmond
12-Seeds: 50-VERMONT 49-YALE 48-FURMAN 47-Indiana/46-Utah State

Last Four Byes: Wichita State, St. Mary's, Florida, Virginia
Last Four In: East Tennessee State, Richmond, Utah State, Indiana

NIT 1-Seeds: Cincinnati, Arkansas, Alabama, VCU
NIT 2-Seeds: Stanford, UNC-Greensboro, Mississippi State, NC State

Multibid Leagues 
Big 10: 10
Big East: 7
Big 12: 5
Pac 12: 5
SEC: 4
ACC: 4
WCC: 3
A-10: 3
American: 2
Southern: 2
Mountain West: 2

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