University of Texas Arlington Mavericks (8-3) at University of Creighton Blue Jays (8-2)
In what is the last week of non-conference games for most schools, the schedule is packed with several intriguing non-conference games. Today we will be evaluating a matchup between two squads that expect to hear their names called on Selection Sunday, the University of Texas-Arlington Mavericks and the Creighton Blue Jays.
The UT-Arlington Mavericks will head due north to Omaha, Nebraska to face the Creighton Blue Jays in a non-conference matchup. The Mavericks enter this game, losers of two out of their last three games and could badly use the win to boost their resume.
Creighton comes in winners of three straight, albeit against some weaker competition, but the Blue Jays have their eyes firmly set on a deep run in March. The Blue Jays are -11.5-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 160 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 PM PST from the CenturyLink Center in Omaha.
The Creighton Blue Jays, under head coach Greg McDermott, are no strangers to playing in March. They had what could have been a Big East Championship spoiled last year after starting the season 18-1.
They lost senior leader Maurice Watson to a torn ACL and stumbled to the finish line without their best player. They eventually made the NCAA tournament as a six seed and lost in the first round. It was a disappointing season for the Blue Jays and was their first taste of real success since the coach’s son, Doug McDermott, left for the NBA.
This year the Blue Jays are once again in the driver’ seat early in the season as they sit at 8-2 and already have a couple of really nice wins. They beat Northwestern, and UCLA and their only losses came to a very good Gonzaga team, and a ranked Baylor squad. Things are about to get very tough for Creighton as the Big East is once again stacked with talent.
As is always the case with a Greg McDermott coached team, these Blue Jays love to score and will run up and down the court as fast as they can, and they love to let it fly from deep. Creighton is averaging over 90 points a game this season, and as a team is shooting 52% from the field, that is top ten in the nation.
Something is going to have to give tonight when they play a UT-Arlington team that prides itself on playing in the half court and shutting teams down on the defensive end.
If you are a frequent reader of my daily picks, you will know just how highly I value the UT-Arlington Mavericks this year. They were a team that had a great season last year as regular season conference champs and brought back almost their entire team. They are loaded with senior leadership, and there are very few player’s in the country better than Kevin Hervey.
Hervey is a big, NBA ready body that can do anything he wants on the basketball court. Hervey is averaging 24 and 9 and is also chipping in 2.5 dimes and a steal and a half a game. He is the type of player that can put a team on his back and win them a game.
The Mavericks have slipped up a little bit recently, but I am not overly concerned. They have played two very strong teams on the road this year where they lost, at Alabama and Northern Iowa, but both games came down to the final possession. This team isn’t quite good enough to go on the road and beat a top twenty-five type squad outright, but they can absolutely keep the game competitive.
I expect this game to like a lot of the UT-Arlington games this year. A physical battle where Hervey proves to be a matchup nightmare. Will the Mavericks be able to break through for another big out of conference road win?
I’m going to say no, but they did win a true road game at BYU that didn’t look that great at the time, but is looking better by the minute as it looks like they just might have a real squad in Provo again this year.
Either way, I don’t need the Mavericks to win this game, even though they are absolutely capable of doing so. I don’t even need it to be all that close.
When the book gives you a handful of points like this, the Mavericks can lose by double digits, and we still get to cash our tickets. I am backing the Mavericks on the road plus 11.5-points, in what I expect to be a tight game throughout with the Blue Jays taking charge late for the win. It feels like something in the 72-65 range to me, plenty enough room for a Mavericks cover.