Creighton has bounced back strongly after a troubling stretch in December, but tough losses to Providence and Marquette have halted the Blue Jays’ momentum. A road win over a Villanova team that continues to get stronger could help turn the tide back in their favor. Was the Wildcats’ win over Xavier a sign they’ll be dangerous in the Big East Tournament, or does Villanova still not have enough to hang with the conference’s best?
Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks and predictions for Saturday’s matchup in Philadelphia.
Creighton vs. Villanova Odds
Creighton enters as a 2.5-point road favorite, sitting at -150 on the moneyline. The over/under is 135 points.
Villanova’s recent signs of life weren’t enough to unseat Creighton as a road favorite in this one, but it’s no surprise the line is narrow. The talent advantage lies with the Blue Jays on the offensive end. Will that be enough to overcome a tough Villanova defense in Philadelphia?
Creighton vs. Villanova Prediction & Pick
Villanova put together a really strong defensive performance at Xavier earlier this week and has been impressive on that end of the floor at home of late. Even more promising was the 25-point explosion from Justin Moore, who finally seems to be rounding into form after recovering from a torn Achilles. This is a Villanova team I wouldn’t want to face in Philadelphia right now.
Creighton does have the better offense, but the Wildcats shut down two key starters last time these two faced off. A strong showing from Ryan Kalkbrenner against a small Villanova team can instantly push the game in Creighton’s favor, but Villanova is positioned well with an improving offense, steady defense, and home-court advantage. Wildcats +2.5 is the pick.
Creighton vs. Villanova Key Matchups
Creighton isn’t an elite offensive team, but the unit is a strong one when everyone is on the court. The Blue Jays average 76.1 points per game and shoot 48.8% from the field. Creighton is shooting 55% on two-point attempts, with plenty of that production coming from Ryan Kalkbrenner and Arthur Kaluma. Both will be key against a Villanova team that doesn’t have a very strong interior defense.
Creighton has a pretty major size advantage over Villanova. The Wildcats lack a true big man and sit 325th in the nation in rebounds, with 6’8” forward Eric Dixon (6.6 RPG) their leading rebounder. Baylor Scheierman, Ryan Kalkbrenner, and even Arthur Kaluma may be the three best rebounders on the floor for this game. And yet… Villanova out-rebounded Creighton the last time these two faced off. I’d be surprised if that happened again.
Villanova has played some great defense lately, with the lone exception being an 85-72 road loss to Providence. That’s the only game in the last six in which the Wildcats have allowed more than 66 points.
Creighton was held to 66 against Villanova earlier in the month (albeit in a victory), and it feels like the Blue Jays will need to improve on that total with the way Kyle Neptune’s team has been playing of late. Villanova completely shut down Scheierman and Kaluma offensively last time out, with Trey Alexander (27 points) essentially winning the game by himself. While Scheierman’s efficiency on the road has been ugly, it’s almost impossible for that duo to be so ineffective again.
Getting Kalkbrenner heavily involved close to the basket seems like a winning strategy for Creighton. If he can use his size to his advantage and avoid needing inconsistent teammates to carry the team, Creighton will be better off.
Most teams attack Creighton inside – the Blue Jays allow the second-highest rate of two-point attempts in the country – so this should be a big opportunity for Eric Dixon and Cam Whitmore. Villanova’s offense hasn’t been strong this season, but Justin Moore’s return to full strength makes some of the season-long numbers irrelevant.
With or without Moore, though, Villanova isn’t a very efficient three-point shooting team. An offense that is going more confident will have a tough matchup against a strong Creighton interior defense – that matchup might decide the game.