Hovering around near Kenpom historic champion metrics, the Creighton Bluejays are poised to make a deep run this year. Their first test is against the feisty North Carolina State Wolfpack, a unit that will be sure to pressure Creighton’s guards into havoc situations. Even with that said, Creighton sits as a -5 favorite with more money flooding in on them. Creighton’s ability to take care of the ball and crash the glass is a key reason why I believe they will cover the spread with ease.
North Carolina State Vs. Creighton Prediction
It’s not the most ideal matchup as North Carolina State is one of the more competitive 11 seeds in recent memory, yet Creighton is built to handle everything that the Wolfpack will throw at them. That starts with the Wolfpack’s trio of guards’ havoc on defense, hounding the upper level and crashing the interior in attempts to force Creighton into bad passing situations. The Bluejays have done a good job at taking care of the ball, ranking 88th in turnovers per game per TeamRankings.
Where their bigger edge resides is in their ability to crash the glass on the defensive end. Second chance opportunities are practically non-existent against the Bluejays as Creighton ranks fourth in defensive rebound percentage. North Carolina already runs very small as is, playing one true big man with guards surrounding him. In a team effort, Creighton will have no issue in keeping DJ Burns off the glass.
Speaking of the lack of Wolfpack size, that will be an issue on the other end as Creighton will look to abuse the interior. Burns plays as a wide based center, anchoring in the middle with a high level of physicality. That works against singular large units, yet Creighton’s Kalkbrenner and Kaluma are a pair of scoring big men who can stretch Burns out away from the basket. That will play right into Kalkbrenner’s hands as he is one of the most efficient scoring big men in basketball, averaging 71.4% shooting from the field.
One issue that I will note is that Creighton plays very thin. By only playing six players meaningful minutes throughout the course of the season, tired legs tend to be a bigger factor in postseason play. Because of this, I highly advise turning most of your attention to this game as one injury or cold shooting streak can be detrimental for their full game potential. Should something happen to one of Creighton’s starters, look to buy out live on the Wolfpack.
North Carolina State Vs. Creighton Prediction: Creighton -5
North Carolina State Vs. Creighton Odds
Even with clear advantages on both ends of the court, oddsmakers still have this pegged as a tight one as they opened Creighton as a -5 favorite. Bettors have since backed the Bluejays, taking them up to -5.5 in some shops. Indicators point towards the number continuing to rise as Kenpom projections have Creighton as a -6 favorite on a neutral court. AdjO and AdjD aside, Creighton’s ability to limit turnovers and negate second chance opportunities will be the deciding factor of them covering the spread.
As for the total, oddsmakers believe points will be scored at a quick pace as they opened the number at 147.5. Bettors believe the pace of scoring will be a tad quicker, backing the over up to as high as 148.5 as of writing. The line movement is sort of confusing as North Carolina State’s scoring potential should be tempered by the Bluejays elite defense and defensive rebounding.
North Carolina State Vs. Creighton Key Matchups
North Carolina State perimeter scoring vs Creighton guards
With Kalkbrenner manning the middle, interior scoring will come at a premium for the Wolfpack. To negate that, we may see an increase in perimeter shooting as North Carolina State will look to stretch out the Creighton defense.
This has been an area of concern for Creighton, allowing opposing units to shoot at an above average completion rate from the perimeter over the course of the season. NC State fits that bill as well, shooting 34.9% from deep.
Still, with their clear advantage in the interior with Kalkbrenner’s length, they can afford to stretch out towards the arc. Combining an uptick in three-point shooting with an inability to get the offensive rebound is a recipe for scoring lulls, playing towards Creighton’s defensive hands.
Back Creighton at no higher than -5.5 as they have clear advantages on both ends and should roll over the Wolfpack interior.