Gametime: 8:00pm CT
Location: CHI Health Center, Omaha, NE
Creighton radio: 1620am / 101.9fm / 1620 The Zone App feat the voice of Xmus Jaxon Flaxon-Waxon Bishop
Villanova radio: 610am
Weather at tip-off: 35° fahrenheit, clear skies, west northwest winds at 7mph, 73% humidity
BETTER PREVIEWS THAN THIS ONE:
Jon Nyatawa delivers, as always, with his preview for the World-Herald.
Tom Nemits of White & Blue Review gets you ready to roll with his Pre-Game Primer.
Brendan Reilly over at sister site VUHoops waxes poetic about the big game tonight.
Joe Juliano from the Philly Inquirer slaps together a preview for the game.
There’s this weird philosophical tendency that enters my mind whenever I think of Villanova basketball. For the most part it’s a great deal of success, but it’s also their incessant clapping after they fuck up. Turnover off Gillespie’s foot? He turns and claps down court. Loose ball going near the scorer’s table? Ryan Arcidiacono is about to take flight. Saddiq Bey travels? Well there goes that man, applauding something ephemeral, turning frustration into celebration.
It’s bizarrely infuriating if it’s your team that they’re doing it to, especially when they’re up 15-20 points in the first half.
Creighton kind of has that same thing going for them this year. The effervescent Mitch Ballock will goof off, smile, and just bubble up with personality as he hits dagger three after dagger three. Christian Bishop will dunk on everybody, turn, and have this incredulous, Steve Urkel “did I do that?” look on his face as he bounces up the floor.
There’s something frustrating about watching your favorite team’s opponent pulverize them into oblivion and then openly have fun doing it.
On a stat sheet, Creighton and Villanova are about the same. They’re nearly identical when it comes to offensive and defensive efficiency. Creighton gets to the line more often than Nova does, but Nova shoots and makes more three pointers.
Villanova got boatraced by Ohio State, while Creighton got boatraced by San Diego State. Villanova lost to Baylor; Creighton to Michigan. They both dropped almost-blow-out games in their second conference games; Nova to Marquette and Creighton to Butler.
Thus, tonight’s game simply comes down to strategy. Will Villanova feed Cosby-Rountree, Robinson-Earl, and Swider down low? Or will they run their regular offense of pass-pass-three? If it’s the former they’ll likely get a few well-contested looks down low with guards poking and prodding down low. If it’s the latter they run the risk of doing what Marquette did in Omaha: miss. A lot.
Creighton’s gameplan isn’t predicated upon their opponent, really. They slowed it down against Butler and ran into a stifling defense with a plodding, methodical offense. If they’re able to grab rebounds and bounce into transition, they should find a bit of success, especially if they get the Wildcats on their heels.
It’s truly a measure of who’s hot. Zegarowski will get his for the Jays, just like Moore will for the Wildcats. If Ballock is locked in, he’s probably going to be the guy that turns the tide. His shooting is prolific but its his ability to find higher percentage shots for his teammates that makes him truly unique. If he has range of motion, he’s a killer. Same with Gillespie. If Gillespie is given room to make plays, there’s a pretty damn good chance he’s going to make them.
The wildcards are whether Bey can stay out of foul trouble and if Alexander can defend and bring it offensively. If Bey can score - which he can, in spades - and stay in the game, this one will probably go Villanova’s way. If Alexander can balance his tenacious defense and get his 20 points, the Jays will probably win going away.
Otherwise, strap in. It’s going to be fun. Or a blowout. Sometimes blowouts are fun, I guess.