GONZAGA VS. WSU: Four Factors Preview

Rivalry Week continues for Washington State fans as the Gonzaga basketball team comes rolling into town in front of what should be a second straight packed house.  To get you ready for tonight, and to make sure you can sound smarter than your friends, we'll take a look at which team should have the advantage in each of the four factors.  We'll also identify the individuals who will be key in that area.

For those of you who may be new (I expect some of you are as we just had our biggest week ever), the "four factors" are effective field goal percentage (which I will categorize as "shooting"), offensive rebounding percentage (rebounding), turnover percentage (turnovers), and free throw rate (free throws).

SHOOTING

Key Individuals

Klay Thompson, WSU Faisal Aden currently has a higher shot percentage than Klay, but Klay will take more shots overall as his minutes stay up and Aden's go down with the return of Reggie Moore.  So far Thompson is taking 30.5% of the shots while he is on the floor and has been very efficient, posting a 56.7 eFG%.  His effectiveness can largely be attributed it his success on two pointers, where he is shooting 62.3%.

Steven Gray, Gonzaga Gray is the most prolific shooter for the Zags, as well as the most effective.  He leads the team with a 27.6 shot percentage and has posted a 59.6 eFG%.  He is lighting it up from three, hitting 44%.  That is really impressive considering he does not take a whole of easy ones.

Overview

Both teams have shot the ball very well.  WSU has the advantage in defensive and offensive eFG%, but that can be largely attributed to their much easier schedule.  Both teams shot very poorly against Kansas State, but WSU did a much better job defensively.

Gonzaga loves to play zone, and with Klay Thompson, Reggie Moore, Faisal Aden, and Patrick Simon, I like WSU's chances to make them pay on the outside.

Advantage: WSU

Click on for the rest of the factors.

REBOUNDING

Key Individuals

DeAngelo Casto, WSU Casto has not rebounded well at all this season, posting a DR% lower than Marcus Capers and only slightly higher than Klay Thompson.  He is WSU's most physical player, and Gonzaga has a lot of size.  He will have a lot of work to do down low tonight.

Robert Sacre, Gonzaga The Cougs have not rebounded the ball well defensively so far this season, and Sacre is the guy that can most expose that weakness.  He gets a lot of his offense via putbacks, and ranks 31st nationally with a 16.5 OR%.

Overview

Just like Kansas State, Gonzaga is a very good offensive rebounding team, posting a 41.6 OR%.  Washington State has not rebounded the ball well on either end of the floor, ranking 250th in OR% and 149th in DR%.  This category is nowhere near a toss up.

Advantage: Gonzaga

TURNOVERS

Key Individuals

DeAngelo Casto, WSU I hate to pick on him again, but this has been another category that Casto has done very poorly in so far this season.  He is posting a horrific 38.1 TO rate, far and away the worst on the Cougs. That is while using 24.3% of the possessions, third highest on the team. 

Demetri Goodson Gonzaga:  Goodson is the point guard and has done his job well distributing and valuing possessions.  He has a solid 15.4 TO rate up against his 22.4 assist rate.

Overview

Both squads posted very similar turnover numbers offensively and defensively against Kansas State.  WSU is only turning the ball over on 17.4% of possessions this season, while Gonzaga is 21.2 (exactly the national average).  WSU also has the statistical advantage in forcing turnovers, taking away 25.0% of opponents possessions to Gonzaga's 21.2 (how crazy is that? Gonzaga is statistically average in both categories). 

Of course, you have to adjust for Gonzaga's tougher schedule.  WSU has been able to force some bad teams into a lot of turnovers.  However, they were taking care of the ball pretty well when the primary ballhandler was out with an injured wrist.  I expect the ball security to be improved with Moore in the lineup.

Advantage: WSU

FREE THROWS

Key Individuals

Reggie Moore, WSU The Cougs have seen a huge dropoff in free throw rate this season, and a lot of that can be contributed to the absence of Moore.  Reggie posted a 76.4 FTR last season, good for 26th in the country.

Robert Sacre, Gonzaga He pops up again because he is easily the leader for the Zags in free throw rate, posting a very good 77.8 free throws per field goal attempt.  He is making opponents pay for putting him on the line as well, knocking down 78.6%.

Overview

Neither one of these teams has been very good at getting to the free throw line this season and both of them have done well keeping the other team off of it. Reggie Moore can make an impact for WSU, but not to the extent he did last year as his wrist does not look fully healed.  Robert Sacre should pose problems for WSU's undersized front line in this matchup.

Advantage: Gonzaga

While all of these factors are important, it is essential to remember that shooting most often has the strongest correlation to efficiency.  For WSU, eFG% has a +93 correlation to the success of the offense.  Gonzaga's defensive eFG% has a +80.  So while these four factors are split between the two teams, it will likely come down to the team with the best eFG% at the end of the game.

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