College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions for North Dakota vs. Creighton: 2 Ways to Bet Bluejays
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan Nembhard (Creighton)
North Dakota vs. Creighton Odds
The Creighton Bluejays enter the 2022-23 college basketball season with an immense amount of hype.
In the Big East Conference, the Bluejays are the listed favorite at many books, topping the odds of mighty Villanova. Nationally, many expect Creighton to spend the season ranked in the AP Poll (where they currently sit ninth) and potentially advance deep into the NCAA tournament.
If Creighton is going to come anywhere close to those expectations, early-season games like Thursday's tilt with North Dakota should not be competitive. KenPom pegs the Fighting Hawks as a bottom-30 team in the nation despite an opening-night victory.
If you're a Creighton believer, this game should be a blowout. The Bluejays, however, have their skeptics, and November can bring surprises.
Last season, North Dakota only won four games against Division I opponents. The Fighting Hawks ranked 354th in the nation defensively and finished 2-16 in the Summit League.
The only player to average double figures in scoring on that team was freshman Paul Bruns (transferred to South Dakota). He also led last year's Hawks in rebounds and steals.
Coach Paul Sather started two freshmen in the opening game against Incarnate Word, which North Dakota won by eight points despite trailing in the second half.
Incarnate Word is ranked 358th in KenPom, sixth-worst in the nation. Beating the Cardinals by a nose should not really qualify as a reason for optimism in Grand Forks.
All indications point to another long season, even in the Summit League, which ranks near the bottom of college basketball's hierarchy.
Creighton had a fair amount of buzz as last season ended. The Bluejays went 23-12, earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament despite late-season injuries to key contributors.
Four of Greg McDermott's top six contributors were expected to return, and each of them did. In addition, McDermott corralled an impressive recruiting class that included top-100 recruit Mason Miller.
The cherry on top came via the transfer portal, as South Dakota State swingman Baylor Scheierman chose Creighton after building a 1,000+ point career as a Jackrabbit.
The pieces are in place for one of the best teams in college basketball. Hype can quickly pivot to pressure, though. Questions have developed, searching for what could hold the Bluejays back.
Can 7-footer Ryan Kalkbrenner anchor a team both defensively and as a post-scorer?
Can Ryan Nembhard cut down on a 24% turnover rate while recovering from the injury that ended his season last year?
How much will Creighton miss Ryan Hawkins, its leading scorer and steadying presence from a year ago?
And perhaps most importantly, will all of these young players experience a linear form of growth, playing better than they did a year ago?
North Dakota vs. Creighton Betting Pick
Almost none of those questions will come into play Thursday night against North Dakota.
If those sorts of long-term, big-picture outcomes are being discussed during this game, something has likely gone very wrong for Creighton.
Even if the Bluejays check every box and play perfectly, little credence will be given to a win over North Dakota. But with a team of young players working to gel with some newcomers, every chance to take the floor could be helpful down the road.
McDermott is a good enough coach to recognize that. His teams at Creighton have never lost a home game to a team outside KenPom's top 125.
The program's only loss to a team ranked 200th or worse under McDermott was a road trip to North Texas in 2015 (an odd scheduling choice, if I've ever seen one).
The Bluejays should be miles better than North Dakota, even when playing younger players later in the game. The spread is massive, but it should be.
I also like taking Creighton's team total. Creighton's offense is hard enough for its Big East opponents to stop, let alone a team who ranked in the bottom-five nationally on defense last season.