Creighton vs. Gonzaga Sweet 16 Betting Odds, Predictions: The Pick to Make for This NCAA Tournament Showdown
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured Corey Kispert.
Creighton vs. Gonzaga Odds
|Moneyline||+600 / -1000|
|Time||Sunday, 2:10 p.m. ET|
In the first weekend of March Madness, Cinderella teams dominated the storylines.
Loyola-Chicago beat Illinois. Oral Roberts made the Sweet 16. Jim and Buddy Boeheim laid waste to the Midwest region, etc.
However, Gonzaga’s continued dominance in pursuit of the first undefeated season in 45 years has gone largely under the radar, even following two dominant wins to begin its March Madness campaign.
In the first Sweet 16 game Sunday, the Bulldogs will attempt to continue their run against Marcus Zegarowski and the Creighton Bluejays.
Creighton has had a wild couple of weeks, and it needed some luck to sneak past UC Santa Barbara. However, Zegarowski dropped 20 points in a relatively easy win over Ohio in the second round.
The question now is: does Creighton have enough firepower to compete with Gonzaga? I’m skeptical.
Everybody knows what Gonzaga does. It’s good at everything and should dominate any team in its path.
Therefore, this article will mostly be about how the Bluejays match up with the Bulldogs.
Offensively, Creighton is explosive. It’s perimeter-oriented, as it takes only 34.9% of its shots at the rim (per Hoop-Math) while shooting 43.9% of its shots from 3. It’s very efficient from the floor, as Creighton’s 55.4 effective field goal percentage ranks 14th in the country.
Additionally, the offense works quickly (28th in average offensive possession length) while limiting turnovers (28th in turnover percentage).
Zegarowski runs the Creighton offense. He leads the team in possession and shot percentage while averaging 15.7 points and 4.4 assists per game. Plus, he’s averaging 18 points over his last three games.
The biggest mismatch in this game will be Creighton’s transition defense against Gonzaga’s transition offense.
Creighton is a bad transition defense. Its defensive eFG% in transition is 54.4%, good for 221st in the country. Meanwhile, Gonzaga is one of the best transition offenses we’ve ever seen, as it leads the nation in both percentage of shots in transition (34.9%) and eFG% in transition (65.9%).
However, Creighton doesn’t allow a lot of transition opportunities. Instead, it forces teams into long half-court offensive sets, as the Bluejays are 328th in defensive average possession length and 226th in percent of defensive possessions in transition.
This defensive approach has been effective. Creighton ranks 28th in defensive eFG%, and it’s holding opponents to just 45.8% shooting from inside the arc. That’s a very good sign for Creighton, as Gonzaga scores almost exclusively from inside the arc (although it’s worth mentioning it’s historically efficient in that area).
Creighton manages to avoid transition defense, but the trade-off to getting back quickly comes on the offensive boards. Creighton grabs just 8.4 offensive rebounds per game and ranks 259th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage.
Meanwhile, Gonzaga sits top-20 in defensive rebounding percentage and has four players who average over four defensive rebounds per game.
As with most teams, Creighton is strong in some areas and weak in others. There is a path to victory for Creighton and the points here, but it depends on Creighton capitalizing on its half-court defense and making its perimeter shots.
Betting Analysis & Pick
There are two keys for Creighton +13.5 here.
First, the Bluejays have to contain Drew Timme. Whether that’s Christian Bishop playing otherworldly one-on-one or the Bluejays bringing a double on the low post, something needs to happen.
Second, the Bluejays need shooting production outside of Zegarowski. It should come from Mitch Ballock, who’s shooting 39.5% from deep this season.
But I have serious reservations about either of those happening.
Creighton’s size should prove to be an issue, both offensively and defensively. Gonzaga has four players between 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-7 to defend the 6-foot-2 Zegarowski, and the 6-foot-7 Bishop will have issues defending the 6-foot-10 Timme.
Creighton’s backup center, Ryan Kalkbrenner, is 7-foot and could maybe muck things up for Gonzaga on the interior. However, he plays just 13 minutes per game.
Creighton needs its shots to fall, and that hasn’t been happening recently — especially for Ballock, who’s shot just 7-for-27 from 3 over his last five games.
Mark Few and Greg McDermott have coached against each other twice in their storied careers. Few’s Bulldogs are 2-0 straight up and against the spread in those games, winning by double-digits both times.
Moreover, at the time of this writing, the big money is coming in on Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are getting just 48% of the bets but 80% of the money, a +32% differential.
Gonzaga took Oklahoma’s best punch and still managed to win by 16. Austin Reaves scored 27 points on 11-for-17 shooting and couldn’t even cover the 15-point spread.
I’m banking on Gonzaga continuing its dominance today.
Pick: Gonzaga -13 (up to -13.5).