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Good Bye Bucky and See You Soon Misix Game Simulator

December 21, 2015

Marquette (8-2-0) vs Chicago State (4-9-0)
6:00 p.m. Monday, December 21
BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI
Radio: 540 ESPN


While it’s been nice to have an extended break to revel in the fact that Marquette’s last win came against in-state rival UW-Madison and led to the retiring of one of the best coaches in college basketball today, we at Misix are sick of finals week and would like to get back to Marquette basketball. Ok, so maybe, in this case, correlation isn’t causation and Bo Ryan had other reasons to retire…we will let you make your own judgement there. Before we move on to talk about what the rest of the season holds, let’s take a look at the numbers behind Steve Wojo’s first win over UW-Madison.

Overall, last Saturday’s game was a more defensive affair than both teams are used to. Marquette was held to its lowest point total of the season (yes, they scored more against Iowa) and UW-Madison was held to its second-lowest point total of the season, 16.4 points below its season average up to that point. One of the main reasons for this was the pace of play. Up to this game, Marquette had averaged 75.6 possessions per game, but of course, it wouldn’t be a game against UW-Madison if the number of possessions wasn’t severely lower. In the end it was estimated that there were only 60.5 possessions. This is only six possessions lower than what UW-Madison had averaged up to that point, as they continue to test the patience of college hoops fans everywhere by playing “the right way,” because basketball doesn’t always need to be fun.

While Marquette had fewer possessions to work with, it made good use of them, posting an effective field goal percentage of 55.4%, just above its season average leading up to that game. Marquette was also able to hold UW-Madison to an effective field goal percentage 6.2 percentage points below its season average up to that point, 40.9% vs 47.1%. Sandy Cohen and Haanif Cheatham deserve a lot of the credit here, as they were tasked with defending Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, who went 4-18 and 3-11 from the field, respectively.

More importantly, while forcing a poor shooting night from UW-Madison’s key players, Marquette was able to limit second chance opportunities. As mentioned in our last post, Marquette would have to hit the boards in order to hold back a very strong rebounding team. Marquette did just that, holding the Badgers to their second lowest offensive rebounding percentage of the season and 7.2 percentage points lower than their season average, 29.7% vs 38.9%. Normally, allowing the opponent to recover 30% of their misses would not be a key to success, but in this case it was an impressive performance.

Without further ado, here is the Win Probability Chart and a comparison of all four factors for both teams:




TeamEffective Field Goal %Turnovers per PossessionOffensive Rebounding %Free Throws per Field Goal Attempts


Alright, enough about the last game, even though it was a beautiful one.  With all first semester games in the books, we would like to take a look at the challenges ahead. If you are not quite ready for this, Marquette has provided an avenue for continued reminiscing on the highs of the season thus far.

If you read our work often, you have likely noticed our game predictions at the end of each post, beginning once a reasonable number of games have been played. If you have ever thought to yourself, “Goodness me, I sure do wish that I could run simulations on any matchup I wish, utilizing the advanced analytics power Misix can provide,” then do we ever have good news for you. Come early 2016, we will be going live with an online version of our game simulator that will allow you to simulate any Division I matchup your heart desires.

We at Misix are so excited about this that we decided to run simulations for the rest of the Marquette season. This meant 2,100,000 simulations, or 100,000 per game. Below is a look at our game by game predictions:


Marquette Win Probability

OpponentHome/Away% Chance of MU Win
Chicago StateHome99.6%
Seton HallHome63.3%
St. John'sHome89.4%
St. John'sAway73.0%
Seton HallAway34.9%


As you look at these results, you should keep some things in mind:

  • These predictions are based on the cumulative performance of these teams thus far.
    • But wait…Marquette has been a different team since the loss to Iowa.
      • This might be correct, and as the season moves forward these predictions will surely change as performances from Marquette and opponents shed more light on what to expect from each team.
    • For nine of Marquette’s remaining home games, we predict a better than 50% chance of winning, including two key games against Georgetown and an impressive Providence team.
      • These wins will be essential if Marquette wants to get an at large bid for the Big Dance come March.
    • For just two of Marquette’s remaining away games, our model predicts a better than 50% chance of winning.
      • Those two games come at DePaul and at St. John’s.
      • Marquette needs to pick up more than just two more road wins against likely the two worst teams in the Big East if they want to be on the tournament side of the bubble.
    • You will notice that the matchup with the highest likelihood of a Marquette win comes in their next game against Chicago State. Here is why:


Chicago State Offensive Efficiency

MetricNational RankValue
Effective Field Goal %335th41.9%
Turnovers per Possession326th21.4%
Offensive Rebounding %249th25.2%
Free Throws per Field Goal Attempts330th25.9%


Chicago State Defensive Efficiency

MetricNational RankValue
Effective Field Goal %321st55.2%
Turnovers per Possession203rd17.6%
Defensive Rebound %227th70.0%
Free Throws per Field Goal Attempts258th41.2%


Using the probabilities of Marquette winning any of its remaining 21 games, we can estimate the likelihood of the Golden Eagles finishing the year with various win-loss records. If you were hoping for a 29 and 2 regular season even after seeing the slim chances against Villanova and Xavier, we have bad news for you.


Marquette Final Record Probabilities

Number of GamesProbability of Winning Exactly N More GamesProbability of Winning At Least N More Games


The table shows that Marquette has a 0.1% chance of running the table (keep your fingers crossed) and a 99.9% chance of winning at least one of its remaining games (thank goodness). More interestingly, though, we see Marquette has a 35.8% chance of winning 12 more games (for a 20-win season). Assuming no drastic changes to the way Marquette and its future opponents have been playing, the most likely outcome is that the Eagles will win 11 more games and be sitting at 19-14 by the end of the regular season with some work to do in the Big East tournament. For Monday’s game, however, we predict Marquette has a 99.6% of beating Chicago State with an average margin of victory of 24.1 points.



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