How to Watch:
Date: Friday, December 17th, 2021
Time: 8:00pm EST
Venue: CHI Health Center Omaha - Omaha, NE
TV: Fox Sports 1
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Moneyline: VILL: (-260) | CREI: (+210)
Spread: VILL: -6.5 (-106) | CREI: +6.5 (-114)
Total: 130.5 – Over: (-114) | Under: (-106)
via: Fanduel Sportsbook
Andrew Kresin: The key matchup for me would have to be down low between Villanova forward Eric Dixon and Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner. Dixon has been effective as Villanova’s starting center this year, averaging 7.2 PPG and 5.6 RPG, but Kalkbrenner has been on another level, posting 12.7 PPG to go along with 6.6 RPG and 2.6 BPG. Villanova is a perimeter-oriented team, rating in the top-10 of 3PA and 3PM this season according to Sports-Reference, and they have been lethal against teams with their three-point shooting. However, if Villanova wants to establish any sort of inside game, the Wildcats need to get Dixon to either start scoring over Kalkbrenner, something Kalkbrenner hasn’t often allowed, or get Kalkbrenner to foul, something Kalkbrenner really doesn’t do.
Tommy Godin: Yeah, I have to agree with Andrew here. Besides Villanova versus the rim, this will be where the game is decided. For reference, Ryan Kalkbrenner is 7’1 and 256 pounds. Historically, Jay Wright does not put out big, strong lineups featuring an anchor in the paint, and this year is no different. I do not expect Eric Dixon or Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree to win their battle in the paint, but if they can limit the damage Creighton will do inside, the rest will take care of itself.
Advantage for each team?
Andrew Kresin: The inside game of Creighton would be their best way to win the game. The Bluejays have been streaky shooting the ball from the perimeter this year and just came off a 5-25 game from beyond the arc. If CU wants to put themselves in a competitive spot to win this game against Villanova, they need to produce points in the paint and hope that the Wildcats are not able to outpace them from three. You have pieces that have been good from two, like Ryan Hawkins and Ryan Kalkbrenner, among others. You just need all hands on deck if you want to win this marquee matchup.
Tommy Godin: The biggest advantage for Villanova would have to be either their discipline or their perimeter shooting. Creighton has been quite sloppy with the ball in the early part of the season, averaging 14 turnovers per game. Villanova is a team that makes opponents pay for their mistakes and if Creighton can not solve their early-season turnover problem, it could make for a very one-sided affair. Additionally, there is no team in the country that takes ‘live by the three-ball or die by the three-ball’ more literally than Villanova. Creighton has already had three games where opponents shoot 50%+ from deep, so an exploitable perimeter defense should have the Wildcats licking their chops.
Disadvantage for each team?
Andrew Kresin: Creighton gives up the ball too many times a game. CU barely has a team assist to turnover ratio above 1 and has had massive issues with turnovers in games this season (season-high is 21 against Iowa State). This is, in part, due to Shereef Mitchell’s absence, as he provided a spark off the bench and gave Creighton an extra player to rotate into the PG spot. Rati Andronikashvili has played well defensively at the PG spot, but Creighton has been depending on Ryan Nembhard to play an average of 34.5 MPG. The Jays need to find a secondary ball-handler to help spell Nembhard and help cut down the turnovers that have knocked them out of so many games.
Tommy Godin: As mentioned before in the biggest matchup, the biggest disadvantage for Villanova will be their size and interior defense. Creighton has four starters that are 6’6 and above which is not ideal for a Villanova team whose tallest starter is 6’8. Villanova has shown vast improvements on the defensive side, as evidenced by holding #1 Baylor to just 57 points last week. The Wildcats have the firepower to blow the doors off this game, but another weak effort against a good Creighton team could have them looking at yet another road loss.
Andrew Kresin: Creighton has not played a team as willing and able to shoot the three-ball as much as Villanova. This presents a major problem for Creighton, as they have allowed multiple 50%+ shooting performances from opponents on the three-point line, and Creighton is only 1-2 in those games. Villanova has the firepower to deal massive damage from the perimeter, so Creighton needs to lock up the interior to force shooters out and allow the defense to trust that drives will not be fruitful for Villanova. However, Villanova did just come off an embarrassing loss to Baylor, and I imagine the veteran team will be more poised for the situation than the young Jays, who are still trying to find their identity. Their three-point shooting is beyond what Creighton can handle, and with more big-game experience, I think Villanova will force a large number of turnovers on this Creighton team. My Prediction: 75-62 Villanova
Tommy Godin: This meeting between the Bluejays and Wildcats will open up conference play for both teams. Villanova is no stranger to away contests in hostile environments this year, and you would have to imagine the CHI Health Center Omaha will be rocking on Friday night. Creighton has historically played Villanova tough at home, and I would expect this contest to be no different. The Bluejays have the depth and size to hang around with ANY team in the country and I would not be surprised if this game is a lot closer than people think. With that being said I do think Villanova bounces back to open conference play. This Creighton team is talented, but I do not think they are sharp enough to pull off an upset against a top ten team in the country just yet. My Prediction: 72-63 Villanova