NCAAB Betting Guide for Creighton vs Villanova
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan Kalkbrenner (Creighton)
Creighton vs Villanova Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
With star guard Justin Moore back in form after missing a large chunk of the season due to injury, the Villanova Wildcats are starting to hit their stride. A road win at Xavier announced Villanova as a threat down the stretch in Big East play.
With Villanova fans starting to dream about a miracle run at Madison Square Garden in the Big East Tournament, Saturday offers a perfect chance to test the Wildcats.
The Creighton Bluejays come to town, playing like a top team in the country, with an outside chance at a Big East title and ambitions of Final Four weekend.
This game could send shockwaves through the Big East standings and set up the winner for a red-hot March.
Creighton is 9-2 since Jan. 12, with the two losses coming in double overtime at Providence and by just two points to Marquette (with an interesting foul call potentially swinging that game).
Over that span, Creighton has played as the eighth-best team in college basketball, per metrics from Bart Torvik. Those numbers say over the last month, Creighton has been the best team in the Big East and a top-five defensive team in the country.
This team, on paper, is not built to dominate defensively. Greg McDermott’s coaching style has always trended more towards the offensive end of the court, and multiple players in the Creighton rotation are far more efficient with the ball than defending.
So, how is this team playing such good defense in one of the best conferences in the nation?
The answer is not exclusively because of center Ryan Kalkbrenner, but he’s far and away the most prominent reason the Bluejays are getting stops.
When Kalkbrenner sits, Creighton allows a very pedestrian 100.4 points per 100 possessions, per Hoop Explorer. Yet when Kalkbrenner is on the court, Creighton allows just 89.3 points per 100 possessions, which would rank in the top-three nationally.
With Kalkbrenner on the floor, opponents shoot lower percentages, grab far fewer offensive rebounds and see far fewer trips to the free-throw line.
And as a causal, “Oh, by the way,” Kalkbrenner’s offensive production is pretty eye-catching, too. He leads the nation in true shooting percentage and effective field goal percentage, and leads the Big East in field goal percentage, box plus/minus and offensive rating.
It’s time more people start talking about Kalkbrenner as an All-American candidate.
There are few teams as hard to pinpoint for handicapping purposes at this point than Villanova.
The Wildcats, in their first year without Jay Wright at the helm, disappointed out of the gates, limping into Big East play after a 6-5 start. The struggles continued with a 2-5 start in conference play.
Some of the issues weren’t as bad as their record indicated. Four of Villanova’s first seven losses came by four points or less. Injuries plagued the Cats’ lineup, and an offense built on the perimeter went through ice-cold shooting streaks.
The answer to the offensive woes seemed to rest on the shoulders of two key players.
First, freshman phenom and likely lottery pick Cam Whitmore struggled to find his place offensively, over-dribbling and taking tougher shots than head coach Kyle Neptune would prefer. In his defense, the rest of Villanova’s roster didn’t offer a ton of alternatives or help with spacing.
That was the case until former All-Big East performer Moore returned from a torn Achilles in late January. That’s a brutal injury and recovery process, leaving Moore playing like a lesser version of himself upon his return.
Villanova lost Moore’s first three games back in the lineup, all to teams from the top of the conference.
When the schedule eased up, Moore and the Wildcats pounced, winning three straight home games. That momentum propelled Villanova into a road win at Xavier.
It was not just Xavier’s first home conference loss, but the first home loss by any of the top four teams in the Big East. Moore played his best game yet, looking like the best player on the floor with 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting.
If that Moore sticks around, Villanova is going to start to attract some attention entering the Big East Tournament.
With that game on tape, however, the Big East coaching staffs should not be surprised by Moore any longer. This is not the Villanova team that lost games to Portland and DePaul, though it’s hard to gauge exactly where the Wildcats’ ceiling sits.
Creighton vs Villanova Betting Pick
I have been skeptical of the Villanova resurgence, until the Wildcats went to Cincinnati and beat Xavier. The Moore that played in that game would be one of the best players in the Big East and can keep this team competitive with anyone.
Is that Moore here to stay? I think he can reach those heights down the stretch, but it’s not prudent to expect that level of play from him every game.
Just a week earlier, he shot 3-of-11 against Butler before scoring one point with three turnovers against DePaul.
In this spot, I’m more inclined to expect a letdown from Villanova and trust Creighton. The Wildcats are just 4-10 ATS at home this year and 2-6 SU as a dog.
If I’m not confident in Villanova’s ability to steal a win, I do not love the Wildcats at such a low number, with an odd added reasoning: Neptune has been a bad beat machine with some late fouls when games have been well in hand.
Kyle Neptune loves late fouls and timeouts in games that are well out of hand. At least the 4th time I’ve seen him do this this season
— Jordan Majewski (@jorcubsdan) February 18, 2023
Villanova was fouling Providence in the final 30 seconds trailing by 12 points. The Wildcats fouled Butler down by eight with 10 seconds left and DePaul down by eight with three seconds to go!
There are more examples from this season, suggesting a real pattern here. If you take the Wildcats and it’s close late, don’t change the channel until your bet cashes.
I’ll avoid that hassle anyway, sticking with the red-hot Bluejays to get a road win.
Pick: Creighton -2.5 (Play to -5)
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