This weekend’s Villanova vs. Creighton match-up inside the CHI Health Center in Omaha will offer a keen glimpse into a sterling Wildcats program that has won two of the past four NCAA championships. The contest offers plenty of fodder for NCAA fans and sports bettors.
Villanova -1 at Creighton, Total 145, Saturday, 5 pm ET
Action: Villanova -1
This is Jay Wright’s 20th season at Villanova, and while it might have taken a while to kick into gear the blueprint is producing spectacular dividends. Wager against his program claiming a third crown in five seasons at your own peril.
These two are heading in different directions, too, as Nova has covered seven of its last 10 games and Creighton is 2-6 ATS in its previous eight contests.
|BetMGM Sportsbook||Point Spread||Totals|
|Villanova||-1 (-110)||O 145 (-110)|
|Creighton||+1 (-110)||U 145 (-110)|
Head-to-head, it’s been no contest. The Wildcats are 8-3 against the number in their past 11 against the Bluejays. At Creighton, Nova has covered five of the past six meetings.
In Fifth Gear
Anyone who missed Nova’s 96-64 shellacking of Marquette its last time out missed a masterpiece. Senior point guard Collin Gillespie (16 points and 11 assists) was especially effective in the Wildcats never giving the Golden Eagles an inch or a breath of comfort zone.
His team was ahead by 20 but he never downshifted. That was Gillespie’s second double-digit assists game in his past four. A season-low effort (4 points, 0-for-8 from 3-point range) in a loss at St. John’s on Feb. 3 might have set the table for him becoming the postseason force, like predecessors Randy Foye and Ryan Arcidiacono, that Wright has envisioned.
Sophomore forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, though, was the assassin against Marquette, going 5-for-6 inside the arc and 5-for-5 outside it for 27 points. He’s recorded 74 points and 36 rebounds in his past four games.
Wright has honed his rotation to a seven-man gang that looks ready for a long March run into April.
No. 1 All Over
Nova had 25 assists and only nine turnovers against Marquette, which should frighten its conference brethren. In the ACC, Pennsylvania mainstay Villanova has had assists on nearly 67% of its field goals. Nobody in that league is more unselfish.
The Wildcats are also the conference’s top team in offensive efficiency, effective field-goal percentage, turnover percentage, 3-point and free-throw shooting, steals percentage, and rate of 3-pointers over 2-point attempts.
Opponents are also sloppier against Nova than any other ACC team, so the other guys get the jitters when Wright and his guys stroll into the barn.
Creighton’s danger man is Marcus Zegarowski, a junior guard who has failed to scored double figures in points only twice in 18 games. And only four times has he committed more turnovers than assists.
Although undersized at 6-7, junior center Christian Bishop has scored 59 points, on 23-for-29 shooting, and yanked down 31 boards in his past four games. And senior shooting guard Mitch Ballock has quite a green light, going 7-for-12 from 3-point range in a win over Seton Hall and 8-of-14 in a defeat to Marquette.
The key for Creighton, however, will be gumming up how Gillespie operates. If the Jays can’t control where he wants to go, and what he wants to do, the challenge will be too difficult.
At The Line
It will be surprising if this is a blowout. Creighton has solid figures shooting inside the arc, and Nova probably will have an edge from 3-point range. What we favor as the difference, as usual in a tight game, is free throws.
The Wildcats make 78.8% of their freebies, a top-15 rate that will lay the foundation for many victories. Creighton, at 66.4%, is at the other end of the spectrum