Xavier vs. Creighton College Basketball Odds & Picks: Betting Value on Musketeers (Wednesday, Dec. 23)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Adam Kunkel.
- We've got a Big East battle Wednesday as the Xavier Musketeers head to Omaha to take on the Creighton Bluejays.
- Xavier has been lighting it up from beyond the arc, while Creighton has struggled to defend the triple.
- BJ Cunningham explains why he's backing the Musketeers in Wednesday's matchup below.
Xavier vs. Creighton Odds
Xavier looks to continue its positive momentum on Wednesday when it heads to Omaha to take on the 13th-ranked Creighton Bluejays.
After surviving a road test against UConn on Sunday, the Bluejays can make it three wins in a row on Wednesday.
Greg McDermott has a loaded team in Omaha once again after sharing the Big East regular-season title last season.
The biggest issue the Bluejays face heading into the season is replacing their best player, Ty-Shon Alexander, who opted to turn pro. So far, they’re struggling to replace his production on both ends of the floor.
Travis Steele’s squad is a perfect 8-0 to begin the season and has cracked the top-25 rankings. How it was able to stay undefeated… well, it’s something you need to see to believe:
— Xavier Basketball (@XavierMBB) December 20, 2020
The Musketeers lost their best two players from last season but added a couple of transfers who could lift Xavier to the top half of the Big East.
Losing Naji Marshall and Tyrique Jones in the frontcourt was always going to be difficult to replace for the Musketeers, but by virtue of the transfer portal and a four-star freshman, Xavier seemingly has a better squad than last year.
With Gardner Webb grad transfer Nate Johnson and freshman CJ Wilcher now in the lineup, Xavier is setting the nets on fire.
The Musketeers rank 10th in the country in effective field goal percentage and 3-point percentage through their first eight games. That has led them to the 13th-ranked offense in terms of offensive efficiency, per KenPom.
In fact, in its last game against Marquette, Xavier shot 54.5% from beyond the arc. With Creighton struggling to defend the 3 so far this season, Xavier could shoot the Jays right out of the gym.
The loss of Marshall and Jones has been felt most on the defensive end of the floor, as Xavier has gone from ranking 20th in defensive efficiency last season to 88th this year.
The Musketeers mainly struggle to turn opponents over and keep them off the offensive glass. Creighton is one of the best teams in the country at limiting turnovers but has been struggling on the offensive glass, so Xavier’s frontcourt may be off the hook on Wednesday.
Creighton is going to miss Alexander a lot this season. He was the heart and soul of the Jays and was their most-used player.
Creighton finished the season as the third-ranked team in offensive efficiency last season, per KenPom. Additionally, it finished sixth in effective field goal percentage and 3-point percentage. However, over half of its shots came from Alexander.
Creighton does return point guard Marcus Zegarowski, and he will be a candidate for Big East Player of the Year. He was by far the Bluejays’ best shooter from downtown, owning the second-highest percentage in the Big East at 45.6%. He also ranked third in the conference in assist rate, so the Jays are in good hands with Zegarowski running the point.
The biggest hurdle Creighton is going to face this season will be on defense.
The Bluejays are 59th in defensive efficiency and are allowing their opponents to shoot over 35% from deep to begin the season. Xavier has been on absolute fire from behind the arc, so the Bluejays will need to find a way to keep them in check or they might get run out of the gym.
Betting Analysis & Pick
It’s really hard to bet against this Xavier team right with how it’s shooting the ball. The Musketeers have put up over 90 points in their last two games against Oklahoma and Providence, and they should be able to do the same against Creighton.
I only have Creighton projected as a -6.11 favorite at home, so I think there’s a little value on Xavier at +7.5]. However, I wouldn’t play it any lower than that.
Pick: Xavier +7.5.