Here it is, the rematch. If case you’ve forgotten, the last time these teams met was in Philadelphia when Creighton made a Big East record 21 three-pointers en route to a 28-point road win as 6.5-point underdogs. Does Villanova have it in them to do the same favor in Omaha?
One of these teams is going to win the Big East, that’s almost for certain. Nova is 10-1 in the Conference while Creighton is 10-2, with everyone else having at least Four losses. A win for the Bluejays would put them in first place. Granted, the remaining Schedules for both of these teams are anything but easy.
The Wildcats have been solid on the road all season and have yet to lose a Conference Game away from home. That’s saying a lot, but obviously they haven’t played anyone like Creighton yet. Previous wins include at Marquette (overtime) and Georgetown. They still have to go to Providence and Xavier, but are on a six-Game win streak since that loss to Creighton.
As for the Bluejays, they haven’t looked all that convincing since taking down Villanova. They barely beat St. Johns at home, then lost to them last week on the road, and then needed a late Doug McDermott three to beat Butler on Thursday. If there was a time to takedown Creighton, it would be now. And assuming they don’t shoot lights out from three again, this will be a much closer Game.
The interesting thing in that last matchup was that Creighton’s starting point guard Grant Gibbs was out due to injury. His replacement, Avery Dingman, played 17 minutes and had zero points. While Gibbs wasn’t needed in that first Game, it’ll be different this time around.
For Villanova, they cannot play the same defense they were playing because you cannot let Ethan Wragge, a 48 percent three-point shooter, take 14 shots, all from distance. In fact, since that Game, defenses have purposely taken out Wragge from Creighton’s offense as he’s averaging five points in the last Four Games. The only problem is, if you put that much focus on Wragge, how will you defend McDermott, the current 15th top scorer in NCAA history?
McDermott is ridiculously consistent and is averaging 30.5 points over the last Four Games. The fact that he only needed 13 shots in the previous Game is a bit worrisome. The Bluejays have a couple other scorers as well, but Gibbs is the guy that runs the show (4.3 assists per Game).
The good thing for Villanova is that they can guard every position, especially against a team without a true big man. They’ll likely try and throw a number of defenders at McDermott as the Wildcats are led by three players that are in the 6-6 range. The problem in that first Game was that Daniel Ochefu could not defend Wragge on the perimeter which will obviously need to change on Sunday.
Offensively, the Wildcats are one of the best in the nation because of their diversity. Ryan Arcidiacono is a similar player to Gibbs at point, but a better shooter. James Bell, JayVaughn Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard II will have advantages due to their ability to shoot and take defenders off the dribble. None of that really showed up in the last contest because the Game got away from them early.
A season sweep of Villanova would be huge for Creighton and could definitely move them to a top five seed in March. However, the Wildcats aren’t going to be easy to put away especially after losing on their home cOurt in the last meeting. It’s going to be a fun watch and could come down to a late three-pointer from McDermott or Wragge. Can ‘Nova stop them?
Predicted Score- Creighton 79 Villanova 75