Teams: Creighton (22-4; 12-2) vs. Seton Hall (14-12; 5-8)
Day: Sunday, Feb. 23
Time: 5:00 PM ET
Location: CenturyLink Center Omaha; Omaha, Nebraska
Radio: 1620 KOZN-AM (Creighton) or AM 970 WYNM (Seton Hall)
Wednesday night simply could not get any better for the No. 11 Creighton Bluejays.
In their trip to Milwaukee, the Jays thumped the Marquette Golden Eagles by the score of 85-70. Even though Buzz William's bunch has struggled mightily this season, disposing of Marquette inside the BMO Harris Bradley Center does not come easy. But tha's just what the Bluejays did on Wednesday. And they did so effortlessly.
Creighton shot and scored effectively from all areas of the floor in Wednesday's win. The Jays shot 72.7 percent on two-point attempts, 52.2 percent on three-point attempts, and 77.3 percent on free throw attempts. Rounding out the effectiveness was a mark of 1.29 points per possession.
For context, Marquette scored merely 1.06 points per possession and shot an abysmal 18.2 percent from downtown.
The glaring concern coming into this game, as it has been all season, is in the offensive rebounding department. While Creighton grabbed 29 rebounds as a whole against Marquette, just one of those 29 rebounds were on the offensive side of the ball. This means that Bluejays' OR% against the Golden Eagles was just 5.6 percent, a season-low.
And over the course of the last six games, their OR% has been less than stellar, to say the least.
|vs. St. John's||20.0%|
|at St. John's||25.6%|
The decline over the last three games is certainly concerning. However, it is important to note out that over this six game stretch, Creighton is 5-1. Their loss came at the hands of St. John's at Madison Square Garden, a game in which Creighton was manhandled defensively. So much so that the Jays had their second-worst output in regards to eFG% all season. They still came away with the second-highest OR% in this stretch, however, and followed that up with the best.
Perhaps this is a weakness for the Bluejays. But it has not seemed to deter them from their goal of winning the BIG EAST Championship in their first season as members of the conference. The lack of an impact in the offensive rebounding department could be just a blemish on an otherwise clean face. And so far, that face is winning in all sorts of facets.
Seton Hall Storylines
At 14-12, the 2013-14 season is certainly heading towards the rearview mirror. But perhaps that should not be told to the Seton Hall Pirates.
The Hall is coming off of a romp of the Georgetown Hoyas, who had been writing their last rites for a chance at the NCAA Tournament. The Pirates pasted the Hoyas 82-67 in Newark, and held their offensively-deficient opponents to under 45 percent on two-point attempts and 40 percent on three-point attempts.
Another reason for this rout was the huge scoring outburst that The Hall got. Four Pirates entered double figures on Thursday, with senior swashbuckler Fuquan Edwin leading the way with 21 points. Guards Jaren Sina and Sterling Gibbs and big man Gene Teague had 10, 18, and 12 points respectively to join the Paterson, N.J. native.
Fans should not expect this to be a blowout by any stretch. Unless Creighton gets it going, it is going to be interesting to see how Greg McDermott game plans for the Seton Hall offense. Hidden beneath this 14-12 record is a fairly good offensive team.
They rank 40th in Effective FG% 41st in FTRate, and 41st in 2PT FG%. Furthermore, in their last five games, The Hall has attained an eFG% of 53.2 percent or better thrice, including a 63.3 percent performance against the Hoyas on Thursday night.
The Garden State natives may be playing for nothing, but it would behoove the Jays to not overlook this club. There is a significant advantage for the Bluejays playing under their own roof, where they have yet to lose this season. But if the Pirates put up offensive numbers just as they did against Georgetown, they could go round-for-round with the potent attack the Bluejays possess.
The Bluejays have gotten a string of good play from backup point guard Devin Brooks as of late. The Harlem native, who holds the second-highest usage rate on the team, has averaged 7.25 points over the last four games, including his 12-point performance against the Villanova Wildcats last Sunday. There is no secret that Creighton has thrived this season when the JUCO transfer has gotten it going this season. That was made evident the last time these two teams took the floor in January, when Brooks scored 11 points in a 79-66 victory. Look for Brooks to help lead Creighton's second unit on the floor and grab command of the offense. The Jays will benefit greatly if he is to break loose.
The aforementioned Gene Teague has feasted in many areas this season, but one that stands out is in the offensive rebounding department. Teague, a native of Vineland, N.J., has posted an OR% of 14.8 percent in the 2013-14 campaign.
That number puts him 20th in the country amongst his peers in the department, and is also a team-high by a significant margin. Against a team like Creighton, who struggles mightily in the rebounding department, Teague could provide a difference if he grabs rebounds and provides second chances for The Hall.
|Team||Effective FG%||Turnover%||Off. Rebounding%||FTRate|
Being at home definitely swings this in Creighton's favor. While the margin of talent is significant as well, the Bluejays thus far have yet to be defeated inside CenturyLink Center Omaha this season. Should the Bluejays win this game, they will only have one more home game of the season: the final game of the 2013-14 regular season against Providence. In other words, Doug McDermott's last hurrah in Omaha as a Bluejay. Even though I firmly believe that Seton Hall and their offensive efficiency will keep this close, there is just too much fire power for the Pirates to handle. That of course includes the current frontrunner for National Player of the Year in Doug McDermott.
Expect a close encounter for roughly 36 minutes, but Creighton should pull away in the final stretch.
Seton Hall 68 Creighton 80