Creighton Bluejays at Villanova Wildcats – NCAAM March 3

No. 14 Creighton (17-6, 13-5) at No. 10 Villanova (15-4, 10-3)

  • Time: 5:30PM PST | 7:30PM CST | 8:30PM EST
  • Location: Finneran Pavilion, Villanova, PA
  • TV: FS1

Opening Tip

Creighton and Villanova were the two top preseason picks to finish first and second in the Big East so it’s kind of fitting that they meet during the last week of the season with the league lead on the line.

Xavier ended a four-game Bluejays winning streak on Sunday with a 77-69 win in Cincinnati. Creighton is 7-3 over it’s last 10 games with the season finale on Sunday against Butler.

Villanova is looking for a bounce back win after losing, 73-61, to Butler on Saturday. The Wildcats have won four out of their last six.

Creighton took an 86-70 win over Villanova on Feb. 13 as the Bluejays shot 59.3 percent from the floor and made 12-of-26 threes. Marcus Zegarowski led the Bluejays with 25 points while Justin Moore had 21 for the Wildcats.

Villanova has a 14-5 lead in the series, but Creighton has won the last two games.

Vs. The Spread

Creighton:

  • The Bluejays are 4-8 ATS in their last 12 games against the Wildcats
  • The UNDER has been the play in 5 of the last 6 games when played at Villanova
  • The Bluejays are 7-2 SU in their last 9 games this season

Villanova:

  • The total has gone OVER in 9 of the Wildcats’ last 13 games
  • Villanova is 8-0 SU in it’s last 8 games
  • The Wildcats are 13-3 SU in their last 16 games

Last Time Out

Creighton had problems defensively in it’s 77-69 loss to Xavier on Sunday as the Musketeers shot 54 percent and Xavier used a 10-0 run early in the second half to secure the win over the Bluejays. Damien Jefferson led Creighton with 19 points and Marcus Zegarowski followed with 15.

Butler held Villanova to just 2-of-27 triples as the Bulldogs downed the Wildcats, 73-61, in Indianapolis on Sunday. Butler held Villanova to one field goal over the last seven minutes of the first half as the Bulldogs hit a 16-3 run to take a 31-20 lead at halftime. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl led the Wildcats with 16 points and 16 rebounds.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Creighton +4.5 (-103) +175 O 146.5 (-115)
Villanova -4.5 (-117) -205 U 146.5 (-105)

Advantage, Creighton

Creighton BluejaysCoach Greg McDermott’s teams always field efficient offenses that convert with consistency as they are ninth in the nation in effective field goal percentage and 12th overall in adjusted offensive efficiency. Creighton is solid at the basket as the Bluejays average 33.5 points per game in the paint with the athleticism of a starting lineup that shows three 6-5 starters in Denzel Mahoney, Damien Jefferson, and Mitch Ballock. Using that athleticism around 6-7 Christian Bishop at center makes for an eclectic mix of styles as the Bluejays make 36.8 percent of their three-point attempts with Ballock checking in with 62 while points guard Marcus Zegarowski nets 55.

Villanova has no rim-protection as the Wildcats are 340th in blocked shots per 100 possessions with only 4.4. It will be up to the Wildcats guards to defend Creighton on the perimeter and make the driving lanes and Bishop’s touches a challenge.

Key Bluejays Stat:

Denzel Mahoney loves the big games as he has averaged 16.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.8 steals in five games against Top 10 teams. He shoots 50.9 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from three in those games.

X-Factor:

The Bluejays have been a solid road team in Big East play since realignment sent them into the league in 2013-14. They are 35-37 inside the conference and the 35 wins trail only Villanova. They are 7-2 this season in Big East road games which matches their best record as they have never won eight conference road games in any season.

Advantage, Villanova

Villanova Wildcats LogoA true revenge game after the Wildcats were smacked in Omaha two and a half weeks ago. Coach Jay Wright’s offenses know a thing or two about efficiency as well as Villanova is fifth in the nation in offensive efficiency and they are 48th in effective field goal efficiency. The Wildcats make 36.1 percent of their threes while Creighton allows about eight per game.

Collin Gillespie (14.4 ppg, 4.4 apg) has been a solid point guard during his career and his matchup with Creighton’s Zegarowski will go a long way in writing the story of this game. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (15.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg) , shoots 49.4 percent from the floor and should be able to take advantage of the Jays inside with his physicality.

Key Wildcats Stat:

The Wildcats are always in the mix as Gillespie’s efficiency on the point make Villanova’s offense flow. The Wildcats only average 9.2 turnovers per game and they only average 13.7 per 100 possessions (kenpom.com).

X-Factor:

Justin Moore is Villanova’s third leading scorer at 12.8 points per game and he gets caught in the mix and not talked about as widely as some of his teammates. Moore figures in 84 percent of Villanova’s possessions as he is second to only Gillespie in that category.

Winner: Villanova (-4.5) 78, Creighton 73

The Bets
Villanova Wildcats -4.5
-117
Villanova Wildcats
-205
OVER 146.5
-115
Sub Categories:
Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.