College Basketball Odds, Picks for Marquette vs Creighton

College Basketball Odds, Picks for Marquette vs Creighton article feature image

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan Kalkbrenner (Creighton)

Marquette vs Creighton Odds

Tuesday, Feb. 21
8:30 p.m. ET
Marquette Odds
-110o / -110u
Creighton Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Two Big East heavyweights meet on Tuesday night in Omaha as Creighton looks to avenge an early-season loss to Marquette.

These are two of the hottest teams in basketball right now. Since Jan. 14, Creighton has lost just one game and is a blistering 9-1. The Bluejays' lone loss came in double overtime a week ago.

Marquette, on the other hand, is 12-2 in its past 14 games, with a pair of losses on the road to Xavier and Connecticut. The Golden Eagles enter fresh off of a late comeback against that same Xavier team on Wednesday.

Last time these two teams squared off, it came without Creighton's star big Ryan Kalkbrenner, who is now back and fully healthy.

Can Greg McDermott's squad get revenge on the Golden Eagles, or will Marquette continue to fly under Shaka Smart?

Marquette Golden Eagles

If you love run-and-gun offenses that are crafty with the basketball and extremely efficient, then Marquette is the team for you.

The Golden Eagles are third in the country in eFG% and own the No. 1 2-point offense.

Despite being one of the younger teams in the Big East, the Golden Eagles don't show a lack of experience.

Aggression is the key for Marquette. This is a methodical offense that runs the pick-and-roll and tries to pick out the best matchup to exploit.

Tyler Kolek (7.6 assists) runs an offense that's among the most well-balanced in college basketball. Marquette runs constant pick-and-roll action and its preference is to finish at the rim.

That also opens an inside-out game, where players like Kam Jones can wait to catch and shoot. Jones and David Joplin normally fill that role on the perimeter.

Jones (14.9 points) is the leading scorer and primary shot taker while Kolek is the distributor.

The two bigs — Olivier-Maxence Prosper and Oso Ighodaro — both rank inside the top 100 in true shooting%. While Ighodaro is the more traditional big — bruiser down low and great on the glass — Prosper can pick-and-pop and stretch the floor.

The only weak spot for this offense comes at the free-throw line. The Golden Eagles rarely get to the charity stripe and shoot just 71% — 207th in country — as a team.

That intensity translates to the defensive end, as well. They are a switch defense with extended ball pressure. They double frequently and try to force opponents into difficult decisions.

The Golden Eagles rank 18th in turnover rate, a big boost to their run-and-gun offense. Transition points are a necessity for this defense, which is otherwise abysmal.

Marquette ranks outside the top 200 in both 2-point (213th) and 3-point (258th) defense. Because of its over-aggression, opponents get open looks. The Golden Eagles allow assists on nearly 60% of all field goals (336th).

The key to defeating this athletic Marquette team is a strong frontcourt. The Golden Eagles are 308th in defensive rebounding and really struggle around the rim (235th) and in the PnR (309th).

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Creighton Bluejays

Since Jan. 14, few teams have been as dominant as Creighton. The Bluejays are 9-1 — their lone loss coming on the road in double overtime — and are firmly inside the top 10 in Bart Torvik's rankings since that date.

Kalkbrenner is the engine of this team. When he missed time in December, Creighton went into a tailspin.

When Kalkbrenner is on the floor, both the offense and defense see noticeable improvements.

Kalkbrenner ranks first in the country in true shooting percentage and fourth in 2-point%. The offense runs through the two-man game of him and Andrew Nembhard, as they run the pick-and-roll at the 13th-highest rate in the country.

Because of Kalkbrenner's towering presence and heavy usage, Creighton's offense is able to space the floor. The heavy dose of PnR also leads to plenty of catch-and-shoot 3s and mid-range jumpers — both of which the Bluejays rank inside the top 30 in, per ShotQuality.

Trey Alexander (42.6%) and Baylor Scheierman (37.8%) have stepped up as consistent 3-point shooters.

Also, Creighton's offense doesn't turn the ball over and it's efficient with its looks.

For as good as the offense has been, Creighton's defense has been just as dominant. The Bluejays rank 11th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency and are inside the top 20 in 2-point defense.

They're a two-point funnel defense, using length and pressure on the perimeter to force opponents inside.

There's few weak points for this Creighton defense. The Bluejays are 13th in defending finishes at the rim — Kalkbrenner is a deterrent and a force inside — and inside the top 25 in half-court defense, defending PnRs and off-screen movement.

They're about league average in 3-point defense, but they only allow 28.8% of all field goal attempts to come from the perimeter. That's the eighth-lowest rate in the country.

This team doesn't foul, cleans up the defensive glass at a top-15 rate and consistently forces contested shots.

Creighton doesn't force turnovers, but its defense is among the Big East's best.

Since Kalkbrenner's return from illness on Dec. 22, Creighton is the No. 4 team in the country, per Bart Torvik. It's inside the top 20 in both offense and defense from an efficiency perspective in that time frame.

Marquette vs Creighton Betting Pick

Back when Marquette and Creighton first played, there was one very important factor missing: Kalkbrenner.

We saw what Connecticut was able to do against Marquette's interior defense, and Kalkbrenner is arguably the most well-rounded big man in college basketball.

His presence alone will open the floor for the Bluejays, and he's a matchup nightmare.

In Marquette's last loss to UConn, its defensive pressure on the backcourt was able to cause some issues. The Huskies turned the ball over 17 times, but shot 13-of-22 from 3 — the ultimate deciding factor.

Creighton's guards shouldn't have that same issue in this one. The Bluejays are well-equipped to handle full-court pressure and traps.

There are few teams in the country playing at Creighton's level. Both offensively and defensively, this team is an issue.

There's already a sour taste from the Bluejays' early-season loss to Marquette, and returning home to a raucous crowd in Omaha is just another positive boost in Creighton's direction.

Expect the Creighton defense to give Marquette's perimeter offense fits as Kalkbrenner and Nembhard dominate through the pick-and-roll on the other end.

This game can quickly slip out of the Golden Eagles' hands if their offense doesn't keep pace, and against a defense of Creighton's caliber, I would highly doubt that's the case.

Back the Bluejays on their home floor.

Pick: Creighton -5.5 (Play to -6.5)

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