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Creighton is neck-and-neck with Villanova at the top of the Big East and they'll need a couple road wins to stay even with the Wildcats. Xavier had a nice start to the season, but is now struggling to find consistency with only four wins in their past nine games.
The Musketeers sit in third place in the Big East, but their bid to the Big Dance isn't a guarantee at this point. They have to face Creighton and Villanova at home along with a road game at Seton Hall. They already lost to the Pirates so that game isn't a guarantee. If Xavier can get a home win over Creighton, most of their worries will be all but gone.
While the Bluejays are fighting for a Big East title in their first season in the conference, they also have a top seeding in the NCAA Tournament in sight. Creighton could lock up a No. 2 seed, as long as they win their final few games. It's easier said than done as Xavier and Georgetown are not easy wins at all.
In the first game between these two teams, Creighton racked up 95 points yet only won by six in the end. Doug McDermott did his usual 35 points as the Bluejays shot 14-of-28 from long range, but they also allowed the Musketeers to hit 50 percent of their shots and 12 three-pointers. It wouldn't be surprising to see a similar result in this one as Creighton loves to play offense-heavy if the opponent allows it.
At this point, there's no stopping McDermott as he's averaging over 30 points over the last seven games. Xavier will obviously use a different defensive strategy, but you always have to give the advantage to McDermott. He's joined by a multitude of shooters including big man Ethan Wragge and Jehenns Manigat. Austin Chatman, Avery Dingman and Devin Brooks are more of the playmakers in this team setting everyone else up. Of course, McDermott can do everything though.
Even at home, Xavier will need a huge effort. They have one loss at home this year and that was surprisingly to Seton Hall. While not as three-point happy as the Bluejays, Xavier still has some shooters. Justin Martin and Dee Davis can fill it up along with Myles Davis off the bench.
In the first meeting, four guys hit double figures for Xavier which is somewhat of an aberration as only three players average more than 8.4 points per game for them on the year. Unfortunately, they'll need another similar effort to take down the Bluejays.
The best route for the Musketeers is to feed Matt Stainbrook down low who can work the paint. He had 15 points and 11 boards in the first meeting and can set things up for the offense whether it be scoring or dishing it to players outside.
In all likelihood, this will be another back-and-forth game with a lot of scoring. The problem for Xavier is that they probably don't have enough scoring to keep up with McDermott and crew. Unless they stop him, it's going to be a tough game to win.
Predicted Score - Creighton 77 Xavier 72
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