"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

Monday, February 06, 2023

Marquette's Q1 Gauntlet


You should rewatch Stevie on defense in the final minute of the NMD game

Photo by Ebony Cox | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

After managing to get through the "Don't talk about Marquette" part of the schedule without any losses, the Golden Eagles have come to the most important remaining stretch of their schedule. Their next four games are at Connecticut, at Georgetown, Xavier, and at Creighton. Without dismissing the Hoyas, the other three opponents are the only projected NCAA teams Marquette will face before the Big East Tournament. All three are currently also Quadrant 1 games. This stretch will go a long way to determining Marquette's final seed in both the Big East and NCAA Tournaments.

When looking at the resumes of teams around Marquette, there are a lot of similarities. Going on the S-Curve from Baylor at 8 to St. Mary's at 17, Marquette looks like a pretty average team, which makes sense given their 12 overall curve position. Net of 14 vs 12.9 average, 19-5 record vs 18.1-5.0 average, 15.1 RAP score vs 14.8 average. But there are places where teams stand out. Baylor's single-digit RAP score and 7 Q1 wins are the reason they are on the 2-line above the rest. UCLA's great 6.1 RAP and no losses outside Q1 or the field have them at the top of the 3-line. But where Marquette comes up short is Q1 wins and record.


If Marquette wants their seed to hold or move up, they need to overachieve in this stretch of Quadrant 1 games against tournament teams. Currently, kenpom projects Marquette go to 1-2 in these games. If they do that, their sub-.500 record against Q1 and the field will likely have them right on the 3/4 cutline, with a 4-seed more likely. If they can steal one of the road games, getting above .500 in Q1 and the bump they would get to their metrics across the board would likely solidify their position on the 3-line. If they want to get to the 2-line, they really need to sweep those three (and maybe get some luck elsewhere). 7-4 in Quadrant 1 with a winning record against the field would give them a leg up on the teams currently ahead of them. In addition, that would likely move their Resume and Predictive Averages (and thus also their RAP score) into single digits.

It will also matter what happens around them. When teams are as close as this bunch is, scoreboard watching matters because while Marquette didn't earn any wins that moved them up specifically the past two weeks, simply not losing while other teams took losses moved them up.

A few notes on what might be some perceived oddities here. Xavier is ahead of Marquette despite the lesser metrics. That's because of their 7-4 Q1 record and 6-4 record over the field. The head-to-head helps, but it's less important than simply having a greater volume of quality wins that overcomes their NET score. Kansas State also stands out because of their Q1 and field records yet being placed on the 4-line. That's because, like Wisconsin and Providence last year, their predictive metrics don't match their body of work. Wisconsin had a 2-seed body of work last year and Providence had a 3-seed body of work, yet they were placed on the 3 and 4 lines respectively. K-State looks like they could see a similar fate.

Finally, St. Mary's has some great numbers and the win over Gonzaga helps, but they are the only team here with 3 losses outside Quadrant 1 (no one else has more than 1) and the only team with 2 losses outside Quadrants 1+2. They also are tied for the fewest wins over the field. At some point, you need to have some wins to hang your hat on, and they don't have enough to match their lofty computer numbers.

Here's the full current S-Curve and bracket:

Multibid Leagues

Big 10: 9

Big 12: 8

SEC: 7

ACC: 5

Big East: 5

Mountain West: 4

Pac-12: 3

American: 2

WCC: 2

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