Ohio vs. Creighton Odds, Predictions, Pick: Bet Bobcats in Second Round of NCAA Tournament
Stacy Revere/Getty Images. Pictured: Ohio celebrates its NCAA Tournament win over Virginia.
Ohio vs. Creighton Odds
The No. 13 Ohio Bobcats scored a fantastic 62-58 upset over the defending national champion, 4-seed Virginia. Head coach Jeff Boals’ Bobcats won their fourth game in a row and 10th in the past 11 contests.
No. 5 Creighton survived a huge scare from No. 12 UC Santa Barbara, narrowly advancing on 63-62 nail-biter. The Bluejays actually relied on their defense to hold the Gauchos to just 23.8% (5-of-21) from deep.
Can Creighton’s veteran team stop the Ohio magical run, or will dynamic junior Jason Preston lead the Bobcats into the Sweet 16?
Stopping Ohio’s offense right now is extremely difficult. The Bobcats rank 30th in adjusted offensive efficiency, 15th in effective field goal percentage, 11th in 2-point efficiency, and 36% from beyond the arc among all Division I teams.
Those numbers actually downplay their current abilities, as star guard Jason Preston missed several games due to injury and COVID-19 quarantines.
This is an experienced group that entered the season 84th in minutes continuity (KenPom), and is now showing their upside as a fully healthy unit.
Preston (16.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 7.3 APG) is an absolute star, who dominates the game in every way possible. He finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists in Ohio’s 62-58 upset over Virginia. Narrowly missing a triple-double against the superbly-coached Cavaliers is simply incredible.
Preston is balanced by 6-foot-8 senior Dwight Wilson (14.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG) and versatile 6-foot-8 forward Ben Vander Plas (13 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 36% 3P). Vander Plas (17 points) was the game’s leading scorer against Virginia, with four rebounds and four assists.
One of Ohio’s biggest weaknesses all year has been defending the 3, allowing opponents to shoot 37.8% in MAC play. However, it has substantially tightened up its perimeter pressure during this magical four-game run. Bobcat opponents have only shot 25.4% (26-of-102) from 3 over those four games, and that includes Toledo who entered its game shooting 38% from beyond the arc.
Ohio has enjoyed a fantastic season, despite extremely poor luck from the opponents on the free-throw line. The Bobcats have endured their opponents shooting 76.7% from the line, 337th in the country. That should certainly regress against a Creighton team that is only making 64.1% from the charity stripe.
Creighton defeated the Gauchos despite shooting just 28% (7-of-25) from 3. The Bluejays relied on 3-point efficiency for 37.7% of their overall points and 38.3% of their conference scoring.
The Bluejays have great guard play, led by preseason Big East Player of the Year Marcus Zegarowski (15.6 PPG, 4.5 APG, 41.5% 3P) and senior guard Denzel Mahoney (12.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 33.2% 3P).
They are one of the few teams with the offensive efficiency to match anyone in the country, ranking first in conference play in effective field goal percentage (56.4%) and two-point efficiency (56.9%).
The Bluejays rarely turn the ball over and are much improved on defense. Creighton is second in the Big East in adjusted defensive efficiency and first in effective field goal percentage allowed.
Head coach Greg McDermott will need his team to limit the Bobcats’ second-chance points. The Bluejays struggle on the boards and do not extend their defense to force turnovers. Creighton ranks only 244th in defensive turnover rate, per KenPom, which is even less helpful against an Ohio team that ranks 76th in offensive turnover percentage.
Sharpshooters such as Zegarowski, Mahoney, Damien Jefferson (36%) and Mitch Ballock (39%) should all see opportunities from deep and need to offset their limited interior scoring. Seven-foot freshman Ryan Kalkbrenner (6.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG) managed just 12 total points in the past four games.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Ohio is too hot to lay 5.5 points.
The Bobcats are playing with confidence and are winning their games comfortably. It took a series of desperation 3-point shots late by Virginia to get that game close. There is always a concern of a super-hot shooting night by the Bluejays, but that hasn’t happened in quite a while. Including the Big East final loss to Georgetown, Creighton shot just 27% (16-of-59) from deep.
I’ll grab the 5.5 points with a Bobcats team that has an excellent chance to reach the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in school history.
Pick: Ohio +5.5 (down to +5).