College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Creighton vs. DePaul (Thursday, February 17)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Javon Freeman-Liberty
Creighton vs. DePaul Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Creighton has a small margin for error the final two weeks of the regular season. The Blue Jays are projected as one of the final four teams included in the NCAA field, according to Joe Lunardi’s bracketology.
Creighton started out Big East play trading wins for losses over its first 10 games. Since then, the Blue Jays have beaten up on Butler and Georgetown twice to make it three wins in a row.
The Bluejays will first need to beat a DePaul team that has been playing hard throughout February.
Despite losing 11 of the last 14 games, the Blue Demons have two of those victories over their last four games. The two losses were an overtime defeat to Providence and a one-possession loss to Butler.
Kenpom has Creighton projected to lose each of its final six games, including this matchup against DePaul.
What Creighton has done this season has been impressive. Greg McDermott lost the second-most possession minutes in the country during the offseason, according to Torvik. Despite all the turnover, McDermott has a chance to win 20 games this season for the 11th time in his 12 seasons.
Much of that success this season has been attributed to the team’s 31st Defensive Efficiency rating. The defense has been stout defending inside the perimeter where it holds opponents to just 43% shooting – good for seventh in the nation. And they do so without fouling, which makes points tough to come by.
The Blue Jays rank outside the top-300 in bench minutes, which is why all five of the starters are averaging in double-figures. The offense has shown some vulnerabilities this season as they shoot just 31% from deep this season (288th in the country).
The squad has two pure shooters in Ryan Hawkins and Alex O’Connell who have connected on 37% of their 284 3-point attempts this season, but the rest of the group has only connected on a combined 25% from beyond the arc.
Creighton has also been putrid at winning the turnover battle. The defense doesn’t force many turnovers, and the offense coughs it up at a rate outside the top-300 nationally.
DePaul opened the season 9-1, including victories over Rutgers and Louisville. That flame then was put out as the Demon Decons followed that stretch by winning just three of their last 14 matchups. Much of that losing streak came without their offensive leader Javon Freeman-Liberty.
The senior guard is scoring 20 points per game to lead the team. Freeman-Liberty is a true slasher who has improved his 3-point shooting from below 30% last season up to 39% this season. He’s complemented by forward David Jones, who is putting up 15 points and eight rebounds per game. Jones is a tremendous second scoring option who has exceeded 18 points in his last three games.
DePaul’s offense is built upon scoring in transition and inside the perimeter. The group finds over 55% of its points on the season from 2-point territory. That has led them to grab offensive rebounds at a top-50 rate in the country.
The Demon Deacons don’t take many outside shots – and for a good reason – as they hit at just a 32% clip on the season. In the first matchup with Creighton, the group went just 3-for-17 from beyond the perimeter.
Creighton vs. DePaul Betting Pick
These teams matched up a month ago, and DePaul owned a double-digit lead for much of the game. However, the Demon Decons scored just two points in a 12-minute span in the second half which ultimately doomed them.
But DePaul was without its offensive leader Javon Freeman-Liberty in that matchup, who missed seven games with a groin injury. He’s the engine that makes this offense run, and without him they struggled severely. He returned on Tuesday and will be good to go in this matchup.
The turnover battle will be a crucial factor in the rematch. That’s been Creighton’s weak point all season as the group ranks outside the top-300 in turnover percentage on both ends of the floor.
I expect Freeman-Liberty to be the difference maker in the rematch between these two programs. DePaul is set to play spoiler at home to Creighton’s chances at an at-large bid.
Pick: DePaul -3 (Play to -3.5)
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