Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#627 Creighton 153.5 vs.
#628 Marquette -3
Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at 8:30pm EST
Written by Nick Raffoul

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The No.15-ranked Creighton Bluejays will travel to the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a Big East Conference showdown against the No. 19-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles.

Following a slow 2-3 start to the Big East season, the Bluejays have surged into second place in the league standings by winning seven of their last eight conference plays. During that timeframe, Creighton has also solidified its case for an at-large bid on Selection Sunday, moving all the way up to a No. 5-seed in ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s latest NCAA Tournament projections. Meanwhile, Marquette’s loss last week dropped the Golden Eagles to a No. 6-seed with just three weeks of regular-season action left on the schedule. Can Marquette bounce back with a win at home against Creighton in a battle of Top-25 on Tuesday night?

Creighton cruises to victory vs. Creighton

Creighton pushed its current winning streak to three games on Saturday with a 93-64 victory against DePaul on Saturday. Ty-Shon Alexander scored a team-high 24 points to lead five Bluejays players in double-figures on the evening. Creighton shot 13-for-26 from 3-point range and led by as many as 33 points before taking its foot off of the gas pedal.

Greg McDermott’s squad comes into the week slotted at No. 18 in the latest KenPom rankings after sneaking back into second place in the Big East standings. Creighton has scored 117.1 points per 100 possessions for the season (4th in the NCAA) and a league-best 111.5 points per 100 possessions during conference play (1st in the Big East). Through 13 conference games, the Bluejays sport the top effective field goal percentage in the conference at 54.7 percent and have turned the ball over on just 16.1 percent of their offensive possessions (3rd in the Big East). Creighton does most of its damage from 3-point range, where it has attempted 41.0 percent of its shots during league play (3rd in the Big East) and connected at a red-hot 38.3 percent clip (1st in the Big East).

On defense, Creighton has surrendered 97.1 points per 100 possessions for the season (82nd in the NCAA) and 102.5 points per 100 possessions versus Big East opponents (6th in the Big East). While the Bluejays rank in the middle-of-the-pack in most defensive categories, they’ve really struggled on the glass, which has limited their ability to consistently generate stops. Creighton has allowed Big East teams to haul in a league-worst 32.8 percent of their missed field goal attempts (10th in the Big East) so far this season. The Bluejays also rank last in the conference with an offensive rebounding rate of only 23.5 percent.

Golden Eagles comeback bid falls short vs. Villanova

Marquette’s comeback came up short on Wednesday, as the Golden Eagles lost 72-71 on the road against Villanova to snap a three-game winning streak. Markus Howard scored a game-high 24 points but it wasn’t enough for Marquette, which trailed by as many as 18 points in the second half. Despite the loss, Howard became the Big East’s all-time leading scorer with 1,408 points (and counting).

Steven Wojchiechowski’s squad enters Tuesday’s matchup ranked No. 23 in the latest KenPom rankings following their 7-5 start to the conference season. Led by Howard (27.3 points per game), the Golden Eagles have scored a healthy 113.2 points per 100 possessions for the season (16th in the NCAA) and 107.2 points per 100 possessions versus Big East opponents (2nd in the Big East). Wojciechowski has given his team the green light from long-range and they have responded by launching a league-high 47.4 percent of their total field goal attempts from beyond the arc. Marquette lives-and-dies by the 3-point shot, doing most of their damage either from deep or at the free-throw line. The Golden Eagles have shot a healthy 35.6 percent from 3-point range (2nd in the Big East) and 76.8 percent from the free-throw line as a team (4th in the Big East) but just 46.1 percent from 2-point range (7th in the Big East) during league play.

On defense, the Golden Eagles have given up 94.2 points per 100 possessions for the season (57th in the NCAA) and 102.9 points per 100 possessions versus league opponents (7th in the Big East). Marquette has had a tough time forcing turnovers (10th in the Big East) and getting stops but the Golden Eagles do a good job of limiting teams to just one shot. Marquette has held Big East opponents to an offensive rebounding rate of only 25.2 percent (2nd in the Big East) during league play so far this season.

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This is going to be a revenge game for the Golden Eagles, who dropped the previous meeting 92-75 on the road in Creighton on Jan. 1. Marquette is going to want to turn this game into a 3-point shootout but the Bluejays have more than enough firepower to keep up with them from long distance. Not only do the Bluejays lead the Big East in 3-point shooting and rank third in terms of frequency but they also excel at defending the 3-point line on the other end of the floor. Opponents have shot only 31.0 percent from long-range against Creighton’s defense during Big East play, which ranks third in the conference. The Bluejays also do a good job of keeping opponents off of the free-throw line, so I like their chances of earning the sweep on the road here. Take Creighton to cover the number versus Marquette at the Fiserv Forum on Tuesday night. 

Prediction: Creighton Bluejays

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Here we have the No. 1 and No. 2 offensive teams in the Big East going at it. Both of these teams play relatively fast, ranking in the top-75 in the country in average possession length on offense. The Golden Eagles rely on their offense to outscore opponents and they shoot a ton of 3-point shots, which usually bodes well for a high-scoring game. Marquette doesn’t force very many turnovers on defense and Creighton gives up a ton of offensive rebounds, so both teams should be able to make the most of their possessions in this game. Meanwhile, Creighton’s offense has been going bonkers as of late, scoring at least 87 points in each of their last three conference games. Take this matchup to go over the projected total on Tuesday night.

Prediction: Over

Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.