Creighton vs Oklahoma State Odds, Pick for Thursday
Pictured: Ryan Kalkbrenner. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Creighton vs Oklahoma State Odds, Pick
The Big East-Big 12 Battle tips off on Thursday night as Creighton visits Oklahoma State in the second of 11 matchups between the conferences. The Bluejays lost their first game this season, a Thanksgiving blowout against Colorado State, but have had a week off to regroup and get ready back-to-back non-conference road games against Oklahoma State and in-state rival Nebraska.
Oklahoma State has underperformed preseason expectations in year seven under Mike Boynton. They lost two heartbreakers as favorites on neutral courts by four combined points and also lost at home to Abilene Christian in the opener. They have a chance for a huge non-conference win here, but the matchup against Creighton's defense isn't particularly good on paper.
Below, I have NCAAB odds and a pick for Creighton vs. Oklahoma State.
It's hard to imagine that Creighton's offense could be better this season than it was last year, but the Bluejays upgraded offensively at point guard with Steven Ashworth coming in for Ryan Nembhard. Now, they have as high of an offensive ceiling as any team in the country. The Bluejays will always run great offensive ball screens and motions with Greg McDermott running the program, but the shooting, rim running and individual shot creation is elite across the roster.
The loss against Colorado State on a Thanksgiving back to back is notable because of how flat the Bluejays were. File that away for the future, given how short the bench is and how reliant they are on their top guys for usage. Trey Alexander had one of the worst games of his career and the three top usage players in the offense were a combined 2-for-20 from the field.
It was about the worst this team could have possibly played. ShotQuality grades Creighton's offense sixth nationally overall, first in spacing and fifth in both rim and 3 rate.
The Bluejays have struggled at times with physical defenses that blow up their ball screens. At any time last year, Creighton had two major 3-point threats. This season, with Ashworth a 40% shooter from deep, the Bluejays have even more options to guard on the perimeter, which creates more space.
Creighton plays one of the most extreme drop coverages in all of college basketball with Ryan Kalkbrenner guarding ball screens. The Cowboys love to shoot the ball from the outside and shoot 3s at the 35th-highest rate in the country, but Creighton's defense overplays on shooters to force teams to shoot mid-range jumpers. You're not going to get much at the rim against Kalkbrenner, and the Bluejays rank second in the country in forcing opponents off the 3-point line and denying attempts.
Oklahoma State's offense is 258th in mid-range frequency, per ShotQuality. The Cowboys are outside the top 100 in efficiency on those shots, but are going to need to make a handful of those to make things difficult on Creighton's defense.
The Cowboys have shot efficiently from inside the arc this season, but they haven't faced a team with the level of rim protection that Creighton boasts. The Cowboys have high efficiency (37th nationally in 2-point percentage) because of their low volume. As the volume goes up in this matchup, I expect some offensive regression.
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The market is well aware that Creighton's offense is a juggernaut and will be difficult for any defense to consistently stop. The Bluejays can struggle defensively because they don't force many turnovers and most of Oklahoma State's possessions will end in shots. However, the Cowboys will be forced into taking a lot of uncomfortable mid-range jumpers, and they're not going to get many opportunities at second looks against Creighton's rebounding unit.
We just saw the worst game Creighton will play all year, and it has deflated the Bluejays in the market. Even on the road, the Bluejays should be laying at least eight. I'd bet them at -7 or better to win and cover in the Big East-Big 12 Battle.