If you've ever been over to KenPom.com, you're familiar with the Four Factors. I highly encourage you to take a look at his explanation of each statistic if you haven't already. For those of you who only have five minutes left on your lunch break, it's a bunch of nerdy stuff that translates to success on the court. This year we'll be taking a look at how well Villanova did in each category, and what it means for the rest of the season. Today, we focus on the Wildcats' 87-63 victory over Nebraska.
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)
Offense: Game = 56.3%, Year Avg = 54.9%, Last Year Avg = 55.3%
Villanova had a better night shooting against Nebraska than they did in their season opener, and in fact beat their average from last year's stellar season. A big part of that was the 3's. But Brendan, how can that be when we only shot 30%? Well as our eFG% shows us, it's not just the 3's that go in that are important (though it wouldn't hurt to make a few more). Nebraska knew Nova could and would take 3's, so they were forced to extend their defense. This left some great spacing for the Wildcats to drive and pass into the lane for high efficiency shots. In fact, every Villanova player except Donte DiVincenzo shot 60% or better from inside the arc due to a stretched Nebraska defense.
Defense: Game = 43.4%, Year Avg = 37.9%, Last Year Avg = 45.5%
It was very unlikely that Villanova would be able to hold Nebraska to the same 27% from inside the arc that FDU put up last week, but the Wildcats still were able to stay below last year's average. While the Huskers didn't have a terrible game shooting the 3 (30.4%), it was Nova's interior defense that really shined on Tuesday (42.1%). If the 'Cats can keep pressure on the arc and funnel opponents into their help defense in the lane, they'll continue to see success on defense.
Turnover Percentage (TO%)
Offense: Game = 10%, Year Avg = 13.5%, Last Year Avg = 16.3%
One of the biggest contributors to Villanova's success this season has been their lack of turnovers. With so many poised guards on the court, no player has had more than 2 turnovers in a game this year. It doesn't take advanced statistics to figure out that if you have the ball more than the other team, you have a better chance to win. But seeing just how good the Wildcats are at controlling the rock is very promising.
Defense: Game = 24.8%, Year Avg = 23.6%, Last Year Avg = 21.6%
The 'Cats have been just as good at taking the ball as they are at holding onto it. Against Nebraska, Villanova forced a turnover once every 4 possessions. That's more than one turnover every two minutes. On Tuesday, the big contributor to this stat was Josh Hart. Not only was he a constant disruptive force in the 1-2-2 press, but he lead all players with 4 steals. Hart's athleticism and mentoring of Mikal Bridges will be huge assets for Villanova in this category all season.
Offensive Rebound Percentage (OR%)
Offense: Game = 30%, Year Avg = 32%, Last Year Avg = 32.5%
If I asked you to name the player who had the best OR% in this game, you'd probably guess Daniel Ochefu (29%). You might guess Hart (4.3%). You might even go dark horse with Bridges (0.0%). You would be wrong. Donte DiVincenzo (29.6%), led all players in the game, grabbing almost a third of his possible offensive rebounds. For those of you who thought white men can't jump, you may want to check out his performance at Hoops Mania. Overall, Nova was slightly down on the offensive glass, where they'll need more board crashing from the guards to keep up with last year's average.
Defense: Game = 34.4%, Year Avg = 29.5%, Last Year Avg = 31.2%
This was unfortunately one of the few low-lights of Tuesday's game, as Nova was beaten on the offensive glass 11 to 9. The majority of these boards were grabbed by forwards being marked by Villanova guards. This is always a risk with the four guard look, but one that Villanova has been able to overcome in past years. The key will be a commitment to manning up and boxing out on the defensive end. After the FDU game, Jay said they'd be relying on Ryan Arcidiacono to step up and mark larger opponents when the 'Cats go small. It's still early on, so there's plenty of time for Arch and the rest of the guards to continue to improve in this area.
Free Throw Rate (FTRate)
Offense: Game = 25.4%, Year Avg = 34.1%, Last Year Avg = 41.8%
For those out there like myself that think this year's team could be better than last year's, Free Throw Rate is an area that will need a lot of improvement. The team is sorely missing JayVaughn Pinkston and his 83.6% FTRate. But there is hope! The team is currently lead by Jalen Brunson (75%) and Mikal Bridges (72.7%). If the rest of the team can return to last season's form and the freshmen can make up for Pinkston, we should see this number continue to rise as we approach conference play.
Defense: Game = 16.4%, Year Avg = 25%, Last Year Avg = 30.4%
While the Cats have had trouble getting to the charity stripe, they're doing a much better job of not sending opponents to it. Need proof? In 23 minutes played against the Huskers, Ochefu had only 1 foul. And it's not like he was shying away from opponents, as he had 3 blocks and 10 rebounds on the night. With the ever expanding role Ochefu is playing on both ends of the court, it'll be important that he stays out of foul trouble this year.
Looking Forward: Eastern Tennessee State
Villanova should have no trouble when Eastern Tennessee comes to the Pavilion on Friday night. The Wildcats rank ahead of the Buccaneers in each Four Factors category on both sides of the ball. On offense, Nova should do especially well in TO%, allowing them to control the tempo and pace of the game. On defense, the Cats' biggest advantage will be in FTRate, as Eastern Tennessee struggles to get to the free throw line. Check back after the game for another Four Factors, and be sure to post your thoughts on Villanova's performance in the comments below.