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#5 Xavier v Creighton - Preview

In pursuit of revenge the Bluejays will look to forget about the last time they hooped up against the Musketeers.

Creighton v Xavier Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

How to Watch, Stream, Listen, Follow

Game Time: 1:30pm CT

Location: CenturyLink Center, Omaha, NE


Stream: Fox Sports Go

Radio: 1620AM the Zone in Omaha / 700 AM & 500 AM in Indianapolis

Other Blogs: White & Blue Review - Creighton / Banners On The Parkway - Xavier

Odds & Ends

As of this writing, Creighton is favored by two points over Xavier according to Odds Shark.

Kenpom says the Bluejays have a 54% chance of winning this one by a score of 84-83.

If you’re thinking about betting on this game, or on sports in general, I’d advise you to look at your bank account and parse through every cent and tell me it’s worthwhile. Look at it. Sure, you could accrue more money by betting on this game, but you could also lose that hard earned cash you just slaved all week to acquire. Think about it. You could put that money towards a down payment on a house, you could buy a 40 of Old English with it, you could buy a ticket to an amusement park, you could buy a plane ticket to Las Vegas and watch other people bet on sports, you could buy a classic piece of artwork, you could take a fishing trip with your dad and have conversations about how you’ve fucked up a bunch in your life but are glad he’s usually always there for you, then he ultimately ruins the trip as he hits you with a, “I’m not your biological father, that’s actually your uncle Fred but he just never gave a shit about you so I had to raise you,” which, in turn, leaves you silent and fighting back tears for the rest of the trip, and when you get home you burn all of your fishing equipment and spend your money on a real treat-yo-self type of vacation to Mexico and invite your uncle Fred along and have a great time getting really drunk, enjoying the warm tides of the ocean and the company with your real father, yet fail to reveal to him that you know the truth, and end up coming home completely empty, so you start writing for a blog about Big East sports, thinking it’ll fill the void but know that it never will because your dad and uncle, or whatever the fuck they are, can never truly love you, so your existential crisis begins ruining your life since you can’t face the facts and you keep writing preview article after preview article, wondering if one day you’ll achieve happiness, but vowing to never, ever bet on sports, because holy shit man, what a waste when you could be living.

Since We Last Saw One Another

As the book on this season will be written, so to it will include the anecdote about how the last full game Martin Krampelj played in the ‘17-18 season was in the all out thrash fest the Musketeers handed the Bluejays on January 13th, 2018. Just 13 game minutes after the Jays left the Cintas, Martin would face his fate as his ACL was torn against Seton Hall - a game Creighton won.

The Jays suffered two losses since that fateful day in Cincinnati, one to Providence at the Dunk, and one to Villanova at the ‘Fake Bank Account In Your Name’ Center in Philly. They managed to come away with wins against the dregs of the BIG EAST in St. John’s, Georgetown, and DePaul.

Xavier, on the other hand, mashed the gas pedal and managed to pull off six consecutive victories in conference since they hosted the Bluejays. They walloped Seton Hall and Marquette, squeaked out a couple wins against St. John’s, and went to overtime with Georgetown and Butler, dancing on the brink of doom only to prance away with the heady help of Trevon Bluiett against the Dawgs and the ineptitude of Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing against the Johnnies and Hoyas.

With both teams vying for a spot at the top of the standings (Xavier 22-3, 10-2 / Creighton 18-6, 8-4) and Villanova trying their damndest not to lose anymore key players on their roster, Creighton has a pretty good opportunity to push themselves into the upper echelon. Xavier, meanwhile, has the golden opportunity to claim first place.

Verba de Ludis

If Xavier’s last affair against Butler featured the proverbial Super Bowl of wing players in the BIG EAST, consider this to be the gold medal match for clutch players in the conference. Between Trevon Bluiett and Marcus Foster, the two combined for a couple of the greatest moments in BIG EAST Tournament Presented by Jeep since the introduction of the ‘new’ BIG EAST:

In the past week, Brad D from the Xavier SBNation site ‘Banners on the Parkway’ featured a piece comparing Tu Holloway and Trevon Bluiett in terms of their clutchiness:

This season alone Tre has hit game deciders against ETSU, Georgetown, Wisconsin, and Butler. Listing them like that seems to shrink it a bit, but that’s four games where Bluiett has either literally hit the game winner, or hit the shot that ended the game as a contest. That’s far more than many players will make in a career.

Compare this with Jon Nyatawa’s blurb in his DePaul gamer in the Omaha World-Herald:

Now Foster has sealed nonconference wins over Northwestern and Nebraska with clutch 3-pointers late. He had a big jumper with two minutes left in the win at St. John’s on Jan. 23. He made key free throws to close out CU’s victory over Georgetown four days later.

None, though, felt as uplifting for Creighton as his shot Wednesday night.

Both impactful. Both clutch. Foster got the edge last season in the BIG EAST Tournament Presented by Jeep, but that doesn’t mean Bluiett can’t get his opportunity.

Which brings us to this game. After getting embarrassed in Cincy, Creighton is going to come off focused and will refuse to waver if the Musketeers go on a run. They’re undefeated at home this season, yet they’ve got some serious flaws that Xavier can expose.

One of those we saw play out in full against DePaul as Marin Maric destroyed Creighton down low, throwing his bodyweight into Toby Hegner and Jacob Epperson, finishing the close affair with 23 points.

Hegner and Epperson looked lost, and while Maric isn’t necessarily the greatest post player in the world, he looked like an All-BIG EAST superstar against the shorthanded Bluejays. The only player that could stop him was Manny Suarez, which isn’t an ideal situation.

This brings us to Kerem Kanter and Sean O’Mara, who will likely attempt to replicate Maric’s dominance. The Jays could counter this with an instant double the moment the two trees touch the ball, but would leave either Bluiett - who will be fighting off Khyri Thomas all night - or JP Macura wide open on the wings.

With this edge it’ll be a struggle for the Jays, but they can certainly get it done if they’re clicking on all cylinders offensively. It seems like it’s been a while since the Jays have blitzed an opponent with a complete shellacking on the offensive side (January 17th, 80-63 v Seton Hall) and they’re due to have a breakout performance at home since they’ve played 3 of their last 4 on the road.

It’ll take an A+ game, but the Jays can certainly get it done. It’s going to take magnificent production from matchup nightmare Ronnie Harrell Jr. It’s going to take Khyri Thomas pouring in buckets at his old, regular rate, while maintaining #Khyrifense (h/t Matt DeMarinis). Maybe TOBY! Hegner can hit some triples to keep Xavier’s post honest from beyond the arc. A little bench production from Mitchell Ballock and Ty-shon Alexander would be a huge boon to a potential upset.

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