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Marquette’s Magic Numbers

This is just like Moneyball, right?

Is victory guaranteed when both Howard and Rowsey score 20 plus points? Is Marquette rebounding well crucial? Is Marquette undefeated when Matt Heldt leads the team in scoring?

While Marquette technically has not lost this season when Heldt leads the team in scoring, The Milkman’s scoring ability does not seem to be one of Marquette’s keys to victory. In a quest to determine trends to Marquette winning and losing, I analyzed stats from each of Marquette’s games this season.

While I was unable to prove Heldt is Marquette’s most important player (through stats, the people know the truth), I was able to find other surprising trends.

Too many options: Marquette struggles with teams that have lots of offensive options. In games where Marquette’s opponent has four or more players score in double figures, Marquette is 3-7 vs. 10-1 (lone loss being to Georgia where Marquette shot a season low 35.5%) when their opponent has three or less in double figures.

The highest scoring output by a player against Marquette this season was Tremont Waters for LSU (39 points). Marquette beat LSU by 10. In Marquette’s most recent loss to Xavier, Quentin Goodin led Xavier with only 15 points. To add to Quentin Goodin, Xavier had four more players score with 10+ points. MU lost by 19.

Eastern Illinois should have been an easy win for Marquette, yet they only won by three in overtime. EIU had five players score 10 or more points. MU not being a great defensive team is no secret, but they tend to fare better when they can limit the scoring to primarily three players.

Shoot good, win good: I know that saying, “The better they shoot, the more likely it is that Marquette wins” is an obvious statement, but what field goal percentage gives them best chance to win?

Knowing that defense is not their strength, you can assume they would have to shoot a very high percentage consistently to win. Shooting at a high percentage is more difficult when you lack players who score consistently in the post. While the Golden Eagles are missing a low post scoring threat, they are blessed with multiple great shooters. When these elite shooters are able to lead them to a field goal percentage of 50, Marquette’s odds of victory are much higher. When they shoot higher than 50 percent, they are 8-1 (the lone loss being the 85-82 loss to Villanova on Sunday).

Marquette is not an elite defensive team, but they do not have to be. Most teams would love to shoot 53 percent on a nightly basis (Saint Mary’s leads the nation in FG% at 52.3%), but 53% does not always do the job against Marquette. When Marquette keeps its opponents below a field goal percentage of 54, they are 13-3 vs. 0-5 when the opponent shoots 54 percent or higher.

Havoc: When you watch your next Marquette game, count how many turnovers they force. The magic number is 12. When MU forces twelve turnovers, they are 13-1 (lone loss is to Wichita State, where they forced 12) vs. 0-7 when they force less than 12. The Golden Eagles were so close to pulling off the upset this past weekend against Villanova. Marquette forced 11 turnovers that game, and one can only imagine what one more turnover would have led to.

Surprisingly Indifferent: As much as I tried, I failed to find any correlation between how Marquette’s Big 3 of Andrew Rowsey, Markus Howard and Sam Hauser perform and winning or losing. I expected to see rebounding and bench points to be crucial to Marquette’s success; however, the stats show both aspects of the game result in no consistent trend for the outcome of Marquette’s games.

Honorable Mentions: Marquette is undefeated when they have a player score 50+ points. Marquette is also undefeated (1-0) when Matt Heldt scores 10+ points.