Creighton vs Providence Odds, Picks: Side to Take in Massive Big East Affair
Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Alyn Breed (Providence)
Creighton vs. Providence Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
As the Super Bowl fades into memory, college basketball takes center stage for many sports fans.
That makes for perfect timing, with hoops heating up in mid-February.
This week offers several big games with postseason implications, including a highly-anticipated battle between the Creighton Bluejays and Providence Friars.
The Bluejays are locked in a three-way atop the conference standings, with the Friars just a game behind in the loss column.
Seeding, for both the Big East Tournament and the NCAA tournament, comes into focus with a late-season conference game of this magnitude.
Things have certainly shifted in Omaha, amidst a tale of three seasons for the Bluejays.
Creighton started the year with six straight wins, followed by six consecutive losses. The hype machine built up around the Bluejays before crashing back to Earth.
Since then, Creighton has slowly and efficiently rebuilt itself into a Big East contender and a Final Four-aspiring team. The Bluejays are 11-2 since mid-December, tied atop the conference standings with the nation’s fifth-longest winning streak (eight games).
A huge portion of Creighton’s mid-season steadying is due to the play of center Ryan Kalkbrenner on both ends of the floor. It’s certainly notable that he missed three of Creighton’s losses, two of which came by a single possession.
His impact is even deeper when looking at on-off numbers.
With Kalkbrenner on the court, the Bluejays score 119.6 points per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent by Hoop-Explorer. That would rank as the ninth-best offense in college hoops.
When he’s off the court, Creighton scores just 106.4 points per 100, which would rank 152nd in the nation.
Defensively, the same concept is even more true.
Creighton, with Kalkbrenner in the lineup, allows 88.5 points per 100, which would be top-five nationally.
Without him, that number drops to 100.0 points per 100 possessions, good for 82nd in the country.
Creighton’s defense forces opponents to try to make their mark from 2-point range. It allows the second-highest percentage of 2-point scoring in the Big East, but also the worst 2-point shooting percentage in the conference.
The Bluejays make you play where they are at their best.
Kalkbrenner anchors the top defense in the Big East — by defensive efficiency — and has the Bluejays playing like a top-10 team. Since December, Creighton ranks third in the country by Bart Torvik’s T-Rank metric.
It’s hard to properly praise the work Ed Cooley has done this season. He lost many of his key contributors from last season’s successful run, but re-tooled with young talent and in the transfer portal.
Cooley’s primary prize from the portal was Kentucky cast-off Bryce Hopkins.
After failing to find a role in Lexington last season, Hopkins has emerged as a star for Providence. He’s averaging 16.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game while punishing Big East defenders.
No player in the conference draws more fouls than Hopkins. Smaller players can’t handle his size while slower big men can’t stay in front of him.
In addition to Hopkins, Providence relies heavily on veteran guard Jared Bynum. He always seems to find a way to make the right play in crunch time, sparking many of the Friars’ less-than-likely wins we’ve seen over the last two seasons.
Often times, Providence seems to feed off his success, though that can swing both ways.
In recent Providence losses to St. John’s and Xavier, Bynum combined to shoot just 5-of-24 from the field.
Creighton vs. Providence Betting Pick
These teams met in Omaha about a month ago, with the Bluejays holding serve at home and collecting a six-point victory (though Providence covered a 7.5-point spread).
The top quadrant of the Big East has been particularly stingy at home, with the best teams refusing to drop games — even against the best opponents — when playing at home.
I tend to think that trend continues, especially since Cooley’s Providence teams have been good in their own building.
Providence is 13-0 at home this season, winning 29 of its last 30 at home. The Friars are 37-4 straight up at home over the last three seasons and 8-4 as a home dog since 2019.
I lean towards the Friars at the opening number of +2.5, though I’m going to be patient. With a hot Creighton team receiving a ton of national attention, I’ll be watching this line hoping to grab a few more points.
At the end of the day, I’ll grab the Friars at 2.5 or better.
Pick: Providence +2.5
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