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Advanced Stats: Villanova Basketball Four Factors vs. Georgia Tech

The victory was never really in question as Villanova defeated Georgia Tech to win the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament. Jalen Brunson was named Tournament MVP, and he joined Josh Hart on the All-Tournament team.

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Villanova Wildcats put in a great team effort on Friday as they remained perfect on the season and won the NIT Season Tip-Off over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.  Jalen Brunson (13 points, 2 assists, 2 steals) was named tournament MVP after her turned in another excellent effort on Friday.  Josh Hart (13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists) joined Brunson on the All-Tournament team.  It was another successful New York trip for the Cats, who are now 7-0 in their last 3 Big Apple tournaments dating back to last season.

While the win column remains the stat that matters most, Villanova won just two of the Four Factors for the second game in a row.  Friday's performance was decisively better than Thursday's, but rebounds and free throws continue to elude the Wildcats.  With a trip down Lancaster for the Holy War up next, let's break down Nova's latest victory.

Effective Field Goal % (eFG%)

Offense: Game - 60.8%, Year Avg - 52.4%, Last Year Avg - 55.3%

Well that's more like it.  Another sub 30% three-point shooting night was saved by an excellent effort inside the arc (79.2%).  While the 3's weren't falling consistently, they were keeping Georgia Tech spaced on the floor.  Great interior passing and dribble penetration resulted in easy scores for the Cats.  Brunson and Hart were seemingly unstoppable in the paint, combining to go 10 for 11 from inside the arc.  While that shooting percentage may not be sustainable, it's good to see Head Coach Jay Wright making the right adjustments to take what the defense is giving him.

As for the woes from behind the arc, Villanova is averaging just 30.2% on the season.  That's low, especially when you consider that more than half of their shots are coming from deep.  It's a steep decline from last season's 38% shooting, but there is evidence that we may be over-reacting.  Through Nova's first 6 games last season, the Cats had only shot 30.5% from behind the arc.  They would go on to have 6 players finish the season shooting over 36% (lead by Hart and Booth), and shoot over 38% as a team.  The year before that the team started shooting 29.9% from three in their first 6 games before finishing the season at 35.6%.  Time may be all this team needs to get things going, and as fans we may need to do the most difficult thing there is for a fan to do.  Be patient.

Defense: Game - 37.5%, Year Avg - 37.2%, Last Year Avg - 45.5%

Another day, another elite defensive performance.  While it was a great performance all around, Daniel Ochefu and Darryl Reynolds really stepped up their efforts.  Despite giving up 16 offensive rebounds, the pair of big men consistently held their ground in the paint.  Their ability this season to alter shots and provide help on the interior has been irreplaceable.  Combine that with the great perimeter defense on display Friday (GT went 2 for 14), and it's easy to see how the Cats are holding opponents to under 54 points per game this season.

Turn Over Percentage (TO%)

Offense: Game - 16.4%, Year Avg - 13.9%, Last Year Avg - 16.3%

For the third straight game Villanova turned the ball over 10 or fewer times.  One way the Wildcats have limited turnovers is by limiting their (and their opponent's) possessions.  This has actually been a trend since the season began.  In every game this year Nova has had the same number of or fewer possessions than the previous game.  This is just another example of how the Cats are grinding out games on both sides of the ball. Efficient passing and shot selection on offense and forced shot clock violations on defense have been staples this season.  This trend can't continue forever, but it's a good sign that Villanova is executing it's game plan and dictating the pace of play.

Defense: Game - 23%, Year Avg - 25.6%, Last Year Avg - 21.6%

Nova continues to turn opponents over with relative ease, including 14 in Friday's bout with Georgia Tech.  It didn't seem to matter who had the ball, the Wildcats were going to attack them.  All but 2 Yellow Jackets had at least 1 turnover for the game.  It's no wonder the defense continues to play at an elite level when they're able to force opponents into empty possessions one out of every four times down the court.

Offensive Rebound Percentage (OR%)

Offense: Game - 17.9%, Year Avg - 32%, Last Year Avg - 32.5%

As we stated earlier, Jay made some good adjustments to create offensive.  One of those adjustments was to keep Ochefu on the bench in favor of speed and quickness.  While the move resulted in more interior scoring, the team suffered again on the boards.  The Wildcats now rank 132nd nationally in OR%, despite Ochefu having the 7th best OR% in the country.  While I can't argue with the move's effectiveness, it still confuses me why Nova's big man played only 17 minutes with just 2 fouls.  Reynolds even had 21 minutes, although to be fair he was highly effective in this game.  The bottom line is that in the last 2 games Ochefu has averaged just 16 minutes of court time, and until that changes Villanova won't be getting many 2nd chances on the boards.

Defense: Game - 41%, Year Avg - 35.2%, Last Year Avg - 31.2%

Despite allowing 16 offensive rebounds, Villanova actually held Georgia Tech under their season average OR%.  And while every Wildcat with the exception of DiVincenzo recorded a defensive rebound, only Josh Hart and Darryl Reynolds were able to pull down 5 DRs.  It's not like the effort isn't there, Arch got two of his fouls trying to box out 6'8", 256 pound Charles Mitchell.  While the Yellow Jackets had the size and experience to explain these type of numbers, it doesn't excuse them.  I know I sound like a broken record, but the Cats will need to continue working on rebounding.

Free Throw Rate (FTRate)

Offense: Game - 21.6%, Year Avg - 27.7%, Last Year Avg - 41.8%

It's a credit to the discipline of Georgia Tech that they were able to keep the Wildcats off the line despite their attack on the paint in the second half.  While Villanova continues to struggle to get to the charity stripe, there were two promising signs in Friday's game.  The first is that Brunson continues to be able to finish through contact at the bucket.  So far he hasn't drawn a lot of fouls for his effort, but in the physical play of the Big East his dribble penetration is bound to find his way to the line more often.  Given that he's making 82.6% of his free throws, the more attempts he can get the better.

The second was that when Kris Jenkins' shot wasn't falling from deep, he would get his defender out of position and drive the baseline.  He's starting to look a lot more comfortable with his dribble penetration, and got to the line each time he drove for a layup against the Yellow Jackets.  If he can force defenders to respect his inside game, it will only pay dividends from behind the arc as well.

Defense: Game - 26.8%, Year Avg - 27.9%, Last Year Avg - 30.4%

Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight had a philosophy on free throws that I've always measured teams by.  He said, "You want make more than they take."  So far this season the Cats have only been able to accomplish that goal twice.  While the Wildcats rank 40th nationally in defensive FTRate, they still have room for improvement.  With the rule changes aimed at creating more offense and three Big East teams ranking in the the top 40 in offensive FTRate, Villanova will have to remain poised on defense.

Looking Ahead: Saint Joseph's (The Holy War)

Offense Projected Winner: eFG% - St. Joes, TO% - Nova, OR% - Nova, FTRate - St. Joes

St. Joseph's has been solid defensively, holding opponents to just 41.5% eFG% on the year.  Villanova will again have an advantage in turn overs, and should be able to take advantage of second chance opportunities on the boards.  Despite a decent defensive FTRate for the Hawks at 32.2%, the Wildcats superior athleticism should help them get to the line more often than projected.

Defense Projected Winner: eFG% - Nova, TO% - Nova, OR% - St. Joes, FTRate - Tie

As with almost every team they play this year, Villanova's defense will be projected to shut down their opponent.  It won't be easy for St. Joe's to find a clean shot against a Nova team ranked 4th in the country in eFG%.  The Hawk's offense and the Wildcat's defense each rank 39th in FTRate, so it will be interesting to see if Villanova can keep their rival off the line.  This game will also be an excellent opportunity for the Cats defense to improve their OR% against a St. Joe's team that doesn't get many second chance boards.

Oh, and as always, THE HAWK WILL DIE!