College Basketball Betting: Creighton Looks Like a National Title Contender
After last night’s win at Marquette, Creighton moved to 10-4 in Big East play and climbed to 14th in KenPom’s ratings after reaching as low as 66th earlier this season. Head coach Greg McDermott has done wonderful things (66% winning pct.) since taking over the program in 2010. And even with the step up in class from the Missouri Valley to the Big East, the Bluejays have put together 20+ win seasons six of the last seven years. The one thing that has eluded the program however is postseason success. Creighton has made it past the first round of the NCAA Tournament only once since joining the Big East in 2013. And their last two tournament berths resulted in first round losses as chalk. This year, that should change.
In a season where scoring efficiency nationwide has declined significantly, Creighton has actually improved. Last season, the Blujeays finished 47th at 1.12 points per possession. This season, they’ve shot up to 1.17, good for fourth nationally. And they’ve also managed to shoot an identical 37.9% from three despite the line being moved back. There are no offensive liabilities in the rotation. Marcus Zegarowski, Ty-Shone Alexander, and Mitch Ballock are all high percentage perimeter shooters while Damien Jefferson and Christian Bishop combine for nearly 60% inside the paint.
Defense has always been considered Creighton’s weak spot; an up-tempo team that likes to outscore the competition. That may be true most years under McDermott but this year’s group is sneaky good on the defensive end. They held Marquette’s Marcus Howard scoreless in the first half of last night’s win in Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles boast a top 25 offense and yet on their home court were held to 65 points on 71 possessions. Villanova, another top-tier offense, failed to crack a point per possession in two games vs. Creighton. The Bluejays are far from elite on the defensive end but with one of the best offenses in the country, they don’t need to hold every team to 60 points to advance to the final weekend of the season. And you have to like their ability to win different ways. They beat Villanova in a slower, grind-it-out affair, took down Seton Hall in a track meet, and defeated Marquette in a high possession game where shots for both teams weren’t falling. And even more impressive, all three games were on the road.
Lastly is betting value. We’ve missed out on some thanks to a current 8-1 run. But looking at the current futures board, 38-1 (CRIS) is still worth a look. Just look at the odds of other teams projected to earn no. 4 seeds according to Joe Lunardi: Auburn 24-1, Kentucky 19-1, and Villanova 30-1. And with a top 15 strength of schedule and four straight games to close out the regular season in which they’ll be favored, it’s not crazy to envision the Bluejays jumping to a no. 3 or even no. 2 seed.