"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 01, 2022

Non-Con Check In

Kam Jones led Marquette to a potential Q1 win over Kansas State
 Photo by Peter Aiken | Getty Images

As the calendar turns to February and the NCAA season stretch run, it's a good time to check in on Marquette's non-conference opponents. Let's go one-by-one, including only D1 games. For those not wanting to dig into all the games, I highlighted the two most important teams to watch. St. Bonaventure because they look most likely to fall into Bad Loss territory and Kansas State who has the chance to solidify themselves as a Quadrant 1 win.

SIU-Edwardsville (5-15/1-8 OVC, 280 NET, Quadrant 4) -- While the Cougars are firmly entrenched in Quadrant 4, their NET and Kenpom ranks are more than 50 spots better than their previous 3-year averages. The record isn't great, but they've been competitive and aren't the SOS drag they typically are. In the preseason, we projected them to have top-275 upside and Brian Barone has delivered almost exactly that.

New Hampshire (6-8/3-4 America East, 252 NET, Quadrant 4) -- The Wildcats metrics are ahead of their three year averages and only slightly behind preseason projections, but for a team hoping to compete for the top-half of the league, this has been a disappointment. They were flirting with Quadrant 3 before taking a few questionable losses. We were right that they were feisty at the Fiserv, but the rest of the season hasn't delivered as successfully.

Illinois (15-5/8-2 Big 10, 15 NET, Quadrant 1A) -- This win has aged well. The Illini are Q1A on any floor and tied atop the Big 10. This win is one of the main reasons Marquette is comfortably in the field currently. Only 10 teams in the country have Q1A non-conference wins at home. Marquette took advantage of a great non-con opportunity. This is the second best win on the resume, after the road win at Villanova, which is the only top-5 true road win any team has currently.

Mississippi (11-10/2-6 SEC, 116 NET, Quadrant 3) -- Ole Miss was angling toward Q2 before losing to Samford, then losing team leader Jarkel Joiner for all but 6 minutes of their current 3-6 stretch. Their schedule doesn't get any easier either. Best case scenario, maybe Ole Miss rallies and makes the NIT, but more likely they remain mired in Q3 and finish near the bottom of the SEC.

West Virginia (13-8/2-6 Big 12, 61 NET 64, Quadrant 2A) -- Our first S-Curve had the Mountaineers comfortably in the field as a 6-seed, but times, they are a-changing. Huggs' team has lost 6 straight and in the rugged Big 12 are projected by Kenpom to lose their next NINE games. They will likely find a way to win a few of those, but are very much in real danger of falling off the bubble. Their schedule is a murderer's row and six straight losses by an average of 11.8 points doesn't inspire confidence. This is a decent resume win that should stay in Quadrant 2, but isn't the solid Q1 victory it appeared to be back in November.

St. Bonaventure (12-5/4-2 A-10, 99 NET, Quadrant 2B) -- After this game, it looked clear like one team was heading for a single-digit seed while the other would be hoping to stay in the bubble conversation. Two months later and the roles have reversed. The problem for the Bonnies is four of their five losses are by double digits, including a 37 point mutilation at the hands of Virginia Tech. Their non-con wins over Marquette and Boise give them enough quality that an at-large isn't completely out of reach, but the margin for error has shrunk. This is a game to keep an eye on as it is the most likely game to fall to "bad loss" territory as the Bonnies have been in and out of the top-100 cutoff that separates Quadrants 2 and 3.

Northern Illinois (5-13/2-6 MAC, 293 NET, Quadrant 4) -- The Huskies opened the season upsetting high-major Washington, but haven't seen much go right since then. Their only other non-con wins were over sub-340 Chicago State and Eastern Illinois. That said, while their conference record isn't great, they are keeping margins down and have slowly moved up the metrics. From a low of 325 in kenpom, they are flirting with the top-300 and, while not great, could certainly be worse. They aren't projected to win another game this season, so from this point on any additions to the W column are gravy.

Jackson State (4-16/2-7 SWAC, 290 NET, Quadrant 4) -- The Tigers lost starters Gabe Watson and Isaiah Williams and haven't been the team we expected. Jayveous McKinnis has been dominant, averaging a double-double in league play, but the rest of the team hasn't delivered and the league favorites find themselves one spot above the bottom of the standings. Certainly not what you hope for when you bring in a team that went undefeated in league play the year before and returning its best player.

UW-Madison (17-3/8-2 Big 10, 21 NET, Quadrant 1A) -- The Badgers have been one of the surprises of the season with Johnny Davis among the front-runners for National Player of the Year as they are tied with Illinois atop the Big 10 standings. While luck has certainly played a part (9-1 in games decided by 6 or fewer points) they are in the mix for a protected seed and won't be a loss that hurts Marquette in March, other than emotionally.

Kansas State (10-10/2-6 Big 12, 75 NET, Quadrant 1B) -- This game has bounced back and forth between Quadrants 1 and 2. K-State has been better than expected in terms of results, including wins over Texas Tech and Texas, but like West Virginia is likely to finish near the bottom of the league and out of the field. The best case for Marquette is if K-State can keep margins close enough to stay in Q1. As 5 of their last 8 losses are by 3 points are fewer, for the most part they've been doing just that.

UCLA (16-2/8-1 Pac-12, 10 NET, Quadrant 1A) -- The Bruins are atop the Pac-12 and look likely to earn a protected seed, with a 1-seed not out of the realm of possibility, especially if they can upset Arizona on Thursday. This is a perfectly acceptable resume loss and one the Selection Committee won't look twice at, even at home.

Let's check out the latest S-Curve:


2-Seeds: 8-VILLANOVA 7-Ucla 6-ARIZONA 5-Kansas

3-Seeds: 9-DUKE 10-Wisconsin 11-HOUSTON 12-Kentucky

4-Seeds: 16-Connecticut 15-Lsu 14-Texas Tech 13-Michigan State

5-Seeds: 17-Illinois 18-Tennessee 19-Providence 20-Alabama

6-Seeds: 24-Iowa State 23-Marquette 22-Ohio State 21-Xavier

7-Seeds: 25-Usc 26-Texas 27-St. Mary's 28-Tcu

8-Seeds: 32-Colorado State 31-Arkansas 30-MURRAY STATE 29-BOISE STATE

9-Seeds: 33-Byu 34-Indiana 35-Miami 36-Wyoming

10-Seeds: 40-North Carolina 39-San Francisco 38-LOYOLA CHICAGO 37-Seton Hall

11-Seeds: 41-San Diego State 42-Iowa 43-Oklahoma 44-Creighton 45-Oregon

12-Seeds: 50-IONA 49-UAB 48-DAVIDSON 47-Belmont 46-West Virginia





Last Four Byes: North Carolina, San Diego State, Iowa, Oklahoma

Last Four In: Creighton, Oregon, West Virginia, Belmont

First Four Out: Wake Forest, VCU, Mississippi State, Florida

Nest Four Out: Florida State, Notre Dame, Michigan, SMU

Multibid Leagues

Big 12: 8

Big East: 7

Big 10: 7

SEC: 6

MWC: 4

Pac-12: 4

WCC: 4

ACC: 3

OVC: 2

No comments: