Iowa State vs. Creighton: Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (12/4/21)

Iowa State vs. Creighton Betting Odds

There are very few college basketball games that are more intense than in-state Iowa matchups.

This season, we’re in unfamiliar territory. After years of Creighton being a powerhouse program, Iowa State is the ranked team entering this matchup.

The 7-0 Cyclones have wins over Xavier and Memphis, propelling them to the No. 23 spot in the AP Poll. However, as KenPom’s 80th-ranked team, is it fair to give them this credit?

I’m unsure, but Iowa State might have value catching points in Omaha Saturday.

Iowa State Cyclones Odds

After an 0-18 Big 12 record, the Cyclone administration canned Steve Prohm, hired TJ Otzelberger away from UNLV, and re-built the whole roster.

Somehow, the rebuild is happening quicker than we expected.

The Cyclones have been immense on the defensive end, especially on the perimeter. Iowa State is 27th in defensive effective field goal percentage (43.6%) and ninth in defensive turnover rate (26.6%). Plus, opponents are taking just 36.2% of their shots from 3.

However, it’s fair to ask if the Cyclones are due for some 3-point regression.

Against Xavier, Iowa State shot 10-for-20 from deep while Xavier shot 3-from-21. On the season, opponents are shooting just 25% from deep, which seems unsustainable in the long run.

With the Cyclones, we could see a Northwestern situation. Last season, Northwestern started 7-1 and 3-0 in conference play behind red-hot 3-point shooting. However, once the shots stopped falling, Northwestern dropped 13 straight games.

Time will tell if the Cyclones are for real.

Creighton Bluejays Odds 

Greg McDermott got Creighton to the Sweet Sixteen last season, the first time the Bluejays reached the NCAA’s second-round in almost five decades.

It was awesome. Marcus Zegarowski led a team that dominated teams through shooting. The Bluejays took 43.6% of their shots from deep and made 36.1% of them. The shooting barrage was tough to beat.

This season, however, McDermott returns zero starters and two total starts (out of 131) from that team. The Bluejays are loaded with youth talent, but it’s clear there are some chemistry issues.

Through eight games, the backcourt is shooting 31.4% from deep (236th nationally) while turning the ball over 20% of the time (223rd nationally). Plus, the Bluejays are getting to the line at one of the lowest rates nationally (283rd) while shooting just 65.2% when they get there (303rd nationally).

But Creighton is 7-1 thanks to interior dominance. Led by a frontcourt rotation of 7-foot-1 Ryan Kalkbrenner and 6-foot-7 Ryan Hawkins, the Bluejays are ninth in 2-point shooting (59.6%) and 40th in 2-point defense (43.7%).

I’d expect that approach to continue. Creighton is 279th in 3-point shooting rate (32.8% 3PA/FGA), so McDermott’s has seemed to change his stylistic approach to his roster.

Prediction and Pick

My pick: Creighton -5 or better

This season, ranked teams on the road vs. unranked teams are 1-14 against the spread, which would’ve lost a $100 bettor over $1,300 in that span.

There is, perhaps, no worse ranked team, from an analytics perspective, than Iowa State. The Cyclones are 80th in KenPom rankings and 81st in Bart Torvik’s rankings, and their overall efficiency statistics aren’t much better than Creighton’s.

Creighton’s interior strategy is far more dependable than Iowa State’s perimeter strategy, as the Cyclones will depend on missed 3-point shots to win. That won’t happen with Creighton, who won’t shoot from the perimeter and have size advantages in the frontcourt.

I’ll continue to back the trends, especially in this spot.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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