Creighton vs. Xavier Odds, Expert Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide (Wednesday, Jan. 11)
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan Nembhard (Creighton)
- The red-hot Xavier Musketeers host the Creighton Bluejays in a Wednesday night Big East duel.
- The Musketeers have issues defensively, so are they being overvalued in this spot despite winning nine straight games?
- Charlie DiSturco dives in and offers up his best bet.
Creighton vs. Xavier Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
After starting the season 4-3, Xavier has ripped off nine straight wins, including five straight to begin conference play. The Musketeers’ run-and-gun offense has been nearly impossible to stop.
Creighton, on the other hand, enters 3-2 in Big East play, most recently off a nine-point loss to Connecticut. This is a perfect opportunity for the Bluejays to make a statement win on the road after a rollercoaster start to the season.
Can Xavier defend its home floor and take home its sixth-straight Big East win, or will Creighton play spoiler behind its balanced offense?
You can sum up the Creighton season with one word: tumultuous.
This was a team with lofty national title expectations, and it began the season with six straight wins. It was swiftly followed with six straight losses and star Ryan Kalkbrenner battled an illness, leaving the Bluejays severely shorthanded in losses to BYU, Arizona State and Marquette.
But his return has been met with success. The Bluejays are 3-1 since and remain an undervalued team in the market because of their early-season struggles.
The 7-foot-1 Kalkbrenner ranks second in the country in eFG% and is the driving force in Creighton’s 37th-ranked 2-point offense. He forces opposing defenses to double down low, which in turn, creates opportunities on the perimeter.
Ryan Kalkbrenner is nearly unstoppable at the rim:
– 100th %ILE as the P&R roll man: 1.57 PPP
– 98th %ILE as the cutter on drop-off passes: 1.31 PPP
An excellent screener surrounded by multiple ball handlers — a reason why Creighton's halfcourt offense is ranked in the top-10. pic.twitter.com/DM1FGNKFen
— ShotQuality (@Shot_Quality) January 5, 2023
The Bluejays shoot a 3 on 42.3% of all field goals. South Dakota State transfer Baylor Scheierman has been terrific from the perimeter — 37.1% on 105 attempts — and Trey Alexander has come into his own (43.3%), as well.
Ryan Nembhard and Kalkbrenner can run a two-man game and are the two main cogs on the offensive end when it comes to ball movement and opening opportunities.
Nembhard sits inside the top 60 in assist rate .
This is an efficient Creighton offense, and we’ve seen a huge improvement from Greg McDermott’s squad over the last year. Scheierman adds another element to the offense, and the Bluejays aren’t afraid to light it up from the perimeter.
And inversely, Creighton’s defense is a funnel inside toward Kalkbrenner. Whether it’s a mid-range jumper or an attack at the rim, opponents shoot just 30.4% of all field goals from 3. That’s 17th-lowest in the country.
The Bluejays don’t force many turnovers — 342nd in the country — but have a compact and strong defense. They force opponents into tough shots and are elite at cleaning the glass.
You’d think Kalkbrenner is the best rebounder in that aspect, but it’s actually Scheierman, who is 19th in defensive rebounding rate. He leads Creighton with 9.2 rebounds per game.
The Musketeers have won nine straight and all five Big East matchups to begin the season. They’ve taken down Connecticut and went into Finneran Pavilion and had no issues against Villanova.
The Musketeers love to turn games into a track meet and are inside the top 20 in tempo. They’re fourth in eFG% and shoot at an elite 40.8% clip from 3.
But that’s not where Xavier often shoots from, as it’s just 321st in 3PA/FGA.
Rather, the Musketeers attack through their big men duo of Zach Freemantle and Jack Nunge.
Freemantle and Nunge allow for Xavier to play a high-low offense. Both are capable and efficient scorers — 15.3 and 14.7 points per game, respectively — and allow for shooters to find open space on the perimeter.
They’re also deadly in the pick-and-roll, and can even pop off the pick. Nunge stretches the floor — 41.3% from 3 — and Freemantle is a great passer (3.1 APG).
Their presence has allowed for Souley Boum to breakout. The senior is shooting 47.1% from the perimeter and averages 17.2 points per game.
Colby Jones is not too far behind at 44.2%, and even Adam Kunkel is above that 40% mark.
Simply put, this is a deadly transition offense, and Sean Miller’s squad can beat you in a variety of ways.
What their matchups often come down to is defense.
That’s the Achilles’ heel for the Musketeers. They’re 297th in 3-point defense and outside the top 100 in defending 2-point field goals. Xavier doesn’t force many turnovers and while it’s solid on the glass, oftentimes opponents will find favorable looks.
In the Musketeers’ three losses, opponents averaged nearly 21 free-throw attempts per game. This isn’t a deep Xavier team — 309th in bench minutes — which puts an importance on Nunge and Freemantle to remain vigilant when contesting shots around the rim.
Creighton vs. Xavier Betting Pick
This is going to be one of the best games on Wednesday night, and the matchup between 7-footers Nunge and Kalkbrenner is one I’m most excited for.
But when it comes to betting this game, I think Xavier is a bit overvalued here. It’s been riding high on its nine-game win streak — including all five Big East bouts — and draws a Creighton team with something to prove.
Xavier has often flirted with danger this season because of its defense. The Musketeers’ struggles defending the perimeter don’t bode well for a Creighton team that shoots the 3 at a high rate.
This is a completely different Creighton team when Kalkbrenner is on the floor, and I believe the market is still undervaluing the Bluejays because of their six-game skid earlier this season.
The Bluejays’ offense ranks inside the top 10 in the half-court. Against an Xavier defense that has had its struggles, this is the perfect buy-low, sell-high opportunity.
In an expected down-to-the-wire game, I give the slight edge to Creighton. In what should be a line closer to a PK, I love taking the Bluejays with the points here as they look to bounce back on the road against a Big East rival.