Kansas State Wildcats (22-11) at Creighton Blue Jays (21-11)
What a fantastic day one of action yesterday in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament! There were great games up and down the schedule yesterday that included some huge upsets and some thrilling last-second action!
We picked up our first win of the NCAA tournament in the very first game as we backed the Rhode Island Rams against the Oklahoma Sooners. This game was an instant classic and was a perfect way to kick off the tournament. The game was a back and forth affair all morning long and ended up in overtime as Trae Young hit two free throws with just fourteen seconds left on the clock to tie the game up.
We had our first huge bucket of March when E.C. Matthews pulled up from 26 feet and buried a huge three-pointer to put the Rams ahead for good with just twenty-eight seconds on the clock. These are the moments that make March great. Matthews showed no fear pulling up from deep and buried a shot that buried the Sooners.
We were laying -2-points, and I am not at all ashamed to say we got a little lucky to win and cover this one. It feels good to book our first win of the tournament, today we will look to pick up another win when we break down the game between the Kansas State Wildcats and the Creighton Blue Jays.
The nine seed Kansas State Wildcats, an at-large selection from the Big 12 conference, will take on the eight seed Creighton Blue Jays, an at-large selection from the Big East conference, tonight in a first-round matchup of the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats stumbled a bit to the finish line in the Big 12 as they lost three of there last five games.
For Creighton, the Blue Jays had similar struggles towards the end of the season as they finished out losers of four out of their last six games. The Blue Jays are -1-point favorites. The game total over-under is set at 144 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:50 PM PST from Time Warner Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Creighton Blue Jays play in what might be the best conference in the country this year in the Big East. Top to bottom it is hard to say any league can really match up with the Big East. So, it was very impressive that Creighton was able to win ten games in league play.
The Blue Jays picked up league wins against NCAA tournament teams Butler, Seton Hall, and Providence. They also beat one seed Villanova and lost to another one seed, Xavier by just one point. This team can compete with the elite teams in the country this year and they showed it week in and week out in the Big East.
What is likely the most interesting storyline in this game is the Blue Jays best player Marcus Foster. The senior guard led the Blue Jays in scoring at over twenty points a game and was named to the all-Big East team for the second consecutive year.
Foster has been key in several of the Blue Jays big wins, including when he dropped twenty-eight points on Villanova in that big upset victory. Foster won’t need any reason to be motivated tonight as he is playing against Kansas State squad that kicked him off the team after playing his freshman and sophomore season for the Wildcats.
Foster will try and tell you that revenge isn’t going to be a motivating factor tonight as he faces his old squad. But we all know that emotions run high in March, and he is going to want to stick it hard to the team that threw him away. I expect a huge showing from Foster tonight against his old team. And not just its because he is playing K-State, but because he is an elite scorer and always comes up big when Creighton needs him.
One of the other leagues that was in the discussion for the nation’s best was the Big 12. The league spent the second half of the season beating each other up, so they ended up with fewer bids than I think they deserved, but make no mistake the big 12 was an elite league this season. Kansas State was able to navigate the league well and picked up wins against Oklahoma State, TCU, Oklahoma, and Texas.
All told the Wildcats rolled up ten wins in league play, very impressive. The Cats had more league wins than NCAA tournament teams like TCU, Texas, and Oklahoma. Kansas State fell just one league win short of Texas Tech and West Virginia, two teams with much higher seeds this year.
I love these eight-nine matchups. They are always such evenly matched teams, and this game is no exception. In a vacuum these teams matchup near identically. Creighton does rank higher on kenpom.com at 28th compared to 43rd for Kansas State, but these teams have very similar resumes. The X-factor for me in this matchup? Marcus Foster.
Foster is always going to play a big part in any Creighton game but the fact that he has a little something extra motivating him tonight puts him over the top. In a game where all other things seem fairly equal, this is enough to sway my pick towards Creighton. Foster was already a Big East player of the year candidate, now with the opportunity to atone for his past sins and beat his old team? I wouldn’t be shocked to see the kid drop forty on K-State tonight.
I expect a great game that is back and forth until the final few possessions, but in the end, I see Creighton winning, covering, and advancing. They played in the better league, beat better teams, and will have the best player on the floor. Give me the Creighton Blue Jays tonight laying -1 point!