Creighton vs. UC Santa Barbara Betting Odds: Spread, Pick For 2021 NCAA Tournament

Creighton vs. UC Santa Barbara Betting Odds: Spread, Pick For 2021 NCAA Tournament article feature image

Justin Casterline/Getty Images. Pictured: Marcus Zegarowski.

  • Creighton is favored over UC Santa Barbara in a 5 vs. 12 matchup in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
  • The Gauchos won their conference tournament handily, while the Bluejays got blitzed by Georgetown, but possess one of the nation's most efficient offenses.
  • Does UCSB have what it takes to pull off another upset? Andrew Norton gives his betting pick and bracket prediction.

#5 Creighton vs. #12 UC Santa Barbara Odds

UCSB Odds+6.5
Creighton Odds-6.5
Moneyline+235 / -286
TimeSaturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Sunday and via DraftKings

How Creighton & UC Santa Barbara Match Up

UC Santa Barbara
All stats via KenPom.

Instant Analysis

UC Santa Barbara got a phenomenal draw in this bracket-busting 5 vs. 12 matchup. Luckily for bettors, they are accustomed to believing in the No. 12 seed in March.

Creighton just got trampled by a surging Georgetown squad and has stumbled recently, losing three of its past six. With the controversy of Coach Greg McDermott’s recent comment, that resulted in a brief suspension, it is possible there is some division. However big or small, anything that can pull teams apart in March will usually result in a loss.

UCSB, meanwhile, handled business in its conference tournament to get the automatic bid and ensure its spectacular season didn’t go to waste.

If Jaquori McLaughlin and Amadou Sow continue their stellar play as of recent, I expect the Gauchos to win comfortably. — Andrew Norton

What To Know About Creighton

One of the 2020 Final Four dark-horse contenders returns an entire roster for the 2021 run. Creighton does have the ability to get incredibly hot from the field on offense. In their home win over Villanova, the Bluejays shot 71.4% (20-of-28) from 2-point range, and 46.2% (12-of-26) from beyond the arc.

Creighton has great guard play, led by preseason Big East Player of the Year Marcus Zegarowski (15.4 PPG, 4.4 APG, 39.5% 3P) and senior guard Denzel Mahoney (13.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 34% 3P). It's 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 (55.6%) and 2-point efficiency (55.8%).

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 effective field goal percentage allowed.

The Greg McDermott suspension had potential to cause issues in the locker room, but it seems as if the team has moved on and used it as a potential rallying point based on their performance in the Big East tournament. Creighton is in a similar boat as Iowa. We know the offense will score every night (even with subpar offensive rebounding numbers), but can the defense get enough stops. It doesn't have to be elite, just be at a top-50 level. If so, this team is a team worth considering for a final four run — although they do need to clean up their bizzare struggles from the free throw line.

What To Know About UC Santa Barbara

The Gauchos and conference player of the year JaQuori McLaughlin were the consensus favorite to win the Big West Tournament.

Heading into the conference tourney, McLaughlin was averaging 15.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 5.4 assists per game, combining a strong overall offensive and defensive presence. In addition to McLaughlin, the Gauchos also have size and skill with standout 6-foot-9 junior forward, Amadou Sow, who was averaging 13 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest heading into the Big West Tournament.

UCSB had an adjusted efficiency rating of 12.41 heading into the conference tournament, per KenPom, which placed it 76th in the nation. What is even more notable about this squad is the hot streak it rode into the Big West Tournament, winning 15-of-16. This is one of the most complete (and underrated) mid-major teams in the country. There really are no glaring weaknesses for an extremely well-coached and experiened group. This team should be on your radar for a potential upset in the first round as a likely 13 (or maybe even 12) seed. — Andrew Norton

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