Creighton vs Villanova NCAAM Betting Preview

Creighton at Villanova

The Big East provides one of the best games on the college basketball schedule on Wednesday night as the Creighton Bluejays take on the No. 19 Villanova Wildcats. While the Wildcats are ranked, the Bluejays are still unbeaten in conference play after beating Villanova in December. However, Villanova is an 11-point home favorite with the over/under set at 132 points.

Jay Wright’s team has had mixed results this season, leaving them at 9-4. The Wildcats are coming off back-to-back wins over Xavier and Seton Hall, two teams that are also contenders in the Big East. However, mid-December saw Villanova suffer lopsided losses to both Baylor and Creighton, adding to earlier losses to UCLA and Purdue.

As for Creighton, the Bluejays had a long hiatus after beating Villanova last month but returned with a double-overtime win over Marquette last weekend. The Bluejays also have wins over BYU and Nebraska on their resume in addition to their win over Villanova, helping to cancel out competitive losses to Iowa State and Arizona State, as well as a puzzling loss to Colorado State.

Starting Over

For a team that had to replace all five starters from last season, the Bluejays are doing just fine this season. The key has been Ryan Hawkins, a transfer from NW Missouri State, who is leading the team with 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game and has been Creighton’s best outside shooter. He’s also been a nice complement for center Ryan Kalkbrenner, as the 7’1’’ sophomore has taken a big step forward, giving Creighton 12.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

Meanwhile, Creighton is getting good production from the backcourt tandem of Ryan Nembhard and Alex O’Connell. Nembhard is a freshman who was a top-100 recruit and has helped move the offense with 4.6 assists and 12.5 points per game. O’Connell, a transfer from Duke, gives the Bluejays a knock-down shooter, although there isn’t much depth in that department once you get past Hawkins, O’Connell, and Nembhard, as the Blue Jays are waiting to get more from their highly-rated freshmen class.

He’s Back

This season, the Wildcats are led by a familiar face in senior Collin Gillespie. Villanova folded down the stretch last year when he got hurt, but Gillespie is back and averaging 16.5 points and 3.2 assists per game. His backcourt mate Justin Moore is also scoring at a higher clip than last season, giving the Cats 14.8 points per game and another bonafide threat from the perimeter.

In the frontcourt, the Wildcats can lead on seniors Brandon Slater and Jermaine Samuels, who are both averaging double figures. Sophomore forward Eric Dixon also gives the Wildcats some muscle in the paint, grabbing 6.3 rebounds per game despite playing fewer minutes than Slater and Samuels. Finally, senior guard Caleb Daniels is the X-factor for Villanova, although he can be inconsistent, and the Wildcats don’t get much else from their bench.

The Rematch

Creighton won the first meeting between these teams by 20 points despite having more than twice as many turnovers as Villanova. The Bluejays also dominated the boards and got good contributions from their bench, whereas the Wildcats can’t afford for any of their top scorers to have an off night.

That makes it hard to bet on Villanova to cover 11 points against a team that beat them by 20 less than a month ago.


Free Betting Pick: Creighton Bluejays -11.



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