#25 Creighton Blue Jays (10-2) at #23 Seton Hall Pirates (11-2)
I brought you yet another winner last night when I backed the Xavier Musketeers playing at Marquette. The game went much the way I had expected and save for a meaningless three-pointer at the buzzer from Marquette, I almost had the exact final score nailed! Today I will be evaluating another Big East Conference matchup between the Blue Jays of Creighton and the Seton Hall Pirates.
The Creighton Blue Jays will travel to Newark to play the Seton Hall Pirates Thursday night. This game is the Big East Conference play opener for both squads. Creighton comes into this game at 10-2 on the season and ranked in the top twenty-five nationally. The Blue Jays have won five straight games.
Seton Hall is also enjoying some early season success as they find themselves ranked number twenty-three in the country, and have won seven out of their last eight contests. Seton Hall is a -5-point home favorite. The game total over-under is set at 161 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:30 PM PST from the Prudential Center in Newark.
This is what the Big East is all about. Two very good teams playing a true home and home series of games. Both teams are ranked, and both teams have enjoyed some big wins already this season in the non-conference. But in the Big East, it is all about what you can do in conference, so for many of the Big East teams, the season really starts this week as conference play really starts to hit its stride.
Creighton is as fun as any team to watch play this season. They score extremely efficiently and are in the top five in the nation in points per game at over 92 a game. Marcus Foster leads the way for the Blue Jays and was just named the conference player of the week. Foster is averaging close to twenty points a game while also adding in 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and a steal a contest.
A quick glance at the Blue Jays schedule and you can see that this team is not afraid to play in hostile environments this season. They played true road games at a ranked Northwestern team and a ranked Gonzaga team in the non-conference. Many teams are afraid to play on their opposing teams home court, the Blue Jays are not.
Creighton has resume-building wins against UCLA, Northwestern, and UT-Arlington already this season with their only losses both being very understandable, to Baylor and Gonzaga. This team is built for March and are a lock to win at least one game in the tournament this year.
Seton Hall has had its own share of success this season. The Pirates are likely a little under-rated this season as their two losses are both a bit unexplainable. Losses to Rutgers and Rhode Island blemish what is otherwise a great record. The Hall has wins over Texas Tech, Louisville, Indiana, and VCU on the year.
Seton Hall is led by a pre-season All-American in Angel Delgado. Delgado is a double-double machine, as he averages 13 points and over 11 boards a game. Delgado led the nation in rebounding last year and has continued that success this season. They will need a huge effort from Delgado to slow down the Blue Jays tonight.
Seton Hall plays at a much slower of a pace than Creighton does. This isn’t going to be a “first team to score a hundred wins” type of game. Seton Hall will grind you down and take the air out of the ball and are only allowing about 67 points a game. Whichever team is able to dictate the pace of the game, may very well find itself the winner tonight.
This is a close game featuring two very good teams. On a neutral floor, I see this as a stone-cold pick ‘em. So, it makes sense to me that Seton Hall is a favorite, but the number feels just a smidge too high. Against a team like Creighton that can score so many points so fast, five points is a very small number for them to cover.
One stat that really sticks out to me is Seton Hal’s inability to make their free throws. The Pirates are 309th in the nation in free throw percentage at just 65% on the season. In a game that should be tight and competitive throughout, you just have to do better than that at the charity stripe. Especially in a situation where Creighton is maybe trailing late and fouling to try and close the gap. If Seton Hall misses its free throws, they could let this game slip away.
This is a coin flip game to me. I like both teams, and road games in the Big East are a daunting task for all teams. Something tells me though that this is a one or two possession game at worst. I like Creighton’s ability to score in bunches and think that they will likely keep the pace faster than Seton Hall likes it to be.
This game will come down to the very last few minutes, and with the Pirates inability to make free throws, I see the Blue Jays keeping it very close. Maybe the ball bounces Seton Hall’s way down the stretch, and they pick up a big home win, maybe it goes Creighton’s way, and they steal a game on the road. But I am not forced to choose a winner as I can snatch up the five points and just sit back and enjoy a close game.
Give me the Creighton Blue Jays plus five points tonight in a thriller.