How to Watch
Time: 8:30pm EST
TV: FS1 (Gus Johnson & Bill Raftery)
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Spread: Villanova -3
The No. 10 Villanova Wildcats (15-4, 10-3) are set to play host to the No. 14 Creighton Bluejays (17-6, 13-5) at the Finneran Pavilion this Wednesday night at 8:30pm. Creighton emerged victorious in the first meeting between these two teams and is looking to win three games in a row against Villanova for the first time in program history. Villanova, on the other hand, is looking to bounce back in a big way and clinch a Big East regular season title for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. With major tournament implications on the line for both teams, this heavyweight bout is sure to provide the fireworks that you would come to expect from the Big East’s premier matchup of the year.
The Creighton Bluejays will travel to the Main Line coming off a rather disappointing loss on the road last Wednesday at the hands of the Xavier Musketeers. Despite the loss, the Bluejays are no stranger to conference road games this year, as they will be looking to set a program-record eight conference road wins on Wednesday night at Villanova.
The Bluejays are led by a trio of seniors in Mitch Ballock, Damien Jefferson and Denzel Mahoney who account for over 53% of the Bluejays points in their last five games. Sharpshooter Marcus Zegarowski is the heartbeat of the Creighton offense, and will be another name to keep an eye out for in this matchup. Villanova has struggled defending the three pointer all year so the key to success for Creighton on Wednesday will be to follow the same blueprint they laid out for themselves in the first matchup, and try to bury Villanova early with a barrage of three point attempts.
On the flip side, Villanova is looking to regain some momentum after suffering an ugly loss on the road at Butler this past Sunday. History favors the Wildcats in this one, considering Creighton has never beaten Villanova three times in a row, however Villanova was frankly dominated by Creighton in their first matchup of the year.
To bounce back, Villanova will need to lean heavily on their veteran leadership consisting of Seniors Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels and redshirt Junior Caleb Daniels. Expect to see a lot of Brandon Slater off of the bench to anchor the defense against a strong offensive attack. For Villanova to prevail victorious, they will need to tighten up defensively, especially beyond the arc. They will also need to be sharpen up their half-court sets, minimizing the amount of contested jumpers that they take. Jay Wright has already proven that he can make the necessary adjustments to avenge a loss, as evidenced by their convincing victory over Saint John’s late last month, so the bottom line will come down to execution for the Wildcats.
This game will ultimately be determined by defense and heart. Both teams are 11-0 when they limit their opposition to under 68 points, so this contest will essentially be a race to see who can eclipse that mark first. Creighton was able to control the tempo and hit their shots at an unreal clip last time these two met, but if Jay Wright makes the necessary adjustments I believe Villanova will be able to maintain their perfect record at home this year and honor their seniors (Gillespie, Samuels, Cosby-Roundtree, and Hoehn) by gifting them a quality senior night victory.
For my score prediction, check out Matt St. Jean’s ‘This Week in the Big East’ post here.