Creighton will play its first game since Jan. 5 when it travels to No. 17 Xavier on Saturday afternoon. The Bluejays were scheduled to play No. 23 Providence on Tuesday, but that game was postponed. Xavier will be looking to bounce back from a 64-60 loss to No. 14 Villanova on Wednesday.
Bluejays hoping to clean up turnover issuesCreighton got off to a strong start this season, winning seven of its first eight games. The Bluejays have lost three of their six games since then, but two of those losses came against ranked opponents. They put together a two-game winning streak with victories over No. 9 Villanova and Marquette. However, the Bluejays had their streak snapped with a 75-41 loss at Villanova on Jan. 5. They were scheduled to face No. 23 Providence on Tuesday, but that game was postponed due to COVID-19 issues. Creighton has been a low-scoring team, going under the total in 15 of its last 19 contests.
Bidding in the 11th annual Creighton vs. Cancer Pink Out auction is now underway! #GoJays | #CreightonVsCancer— Creighton Men’s Basketball (@BluejayMBB) January 14, 2022
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The Bluejays come into this game ranked No. 69 in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency ratings. They are shooting the ball very well from inside the arc, ranked No. 13 in 2-point percentage. Creighton is really struggling from the perimeter, making just 30.1% of its 3-pointers. The Bluejays are also dealing with turnover problems, giving the ball away on more than 20% of their possessions. They will be facing a Xavier defense that is No. 32 in adjusted efficiency. Forward Ryan Hawkins leads a balanced Creighton offense with 13.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Center Ryan Kalkbrenner is scoring 12.3 points, while guard Ryan Nembhard is adding 12.1 points.
Xavier looking for another win at homeNo. 17 Xavier was fantastic during non-conference play, winning 10 of its 11 games. The Musketeers’ lone loss came in an 82-70 decision against Iowa State in November. They have now lost two of their last three games. Both of those losses came against Villanova—the first one was a double-digit setback, while the second one was a 64-60 final on Wednesday. The Musketeers had a pair of games postponed against Georgetown and Connecticut. Their lone win since Dec. 19 came in an 87-72 blowout at Butler last Friday. Xavier has won 11 of its last 12 home games.
The Musketeers come into this game at No. 23 in adjusted offensive efficiency. They are dealing with some turnover issues as well, but theirs have not been nearly as bad as Creighton’s. Xavier will have more experience and more height in this matchup. It will be facing a Creighton defense that is No. 54 in adjusted efficiency. Guard Nate Johnson leads Xavier with 12.9 points per game. He has three other teammates scoring in double figures, paced by forward Jack Nunge. He is scoring 11.9 points and is grabbing 7.1 rebounds. Guards Paul Scruggs and Colby Jones are both scoring in double figures as well.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
There is one key reason that I do not like Creighton in this matchup. The Bluejays are one of the most inexperienced teams in college basketball, ranked No. 308 in that category. Their lack of experience has led to some severe turnover issues, as they are No. 299 in turnover rate. I do not expect those issues to be resolved in a road game against a tough Xavier defense. The Musketeers have a balanced lineup that will have an advantage in the paint on Saturday. Creighton has only covered the spread three times in its last 11 games against Xavier.
Full-Game Total Pick
Creighton does not want to get into a track meet with Xavier on Saturday afternoon. The Bluejays prefer to play a half-court game, as they rank No. 212 in average possession length. They are also struggling to shoot from beyond the arc, knocking down just over 30% of their attempts. Creighton will be facing a strong Xavier defense that is inside the top 25 in defensive field goal percentage. The Musketeers are also having some issues with their perimeter shooting, which sets up for a low-scoring game. Creighton has gone under in 15 of its last 19 games and these teams have played under the total in eight of their last 10 head-to-head meetings.