College Basketball Pick
It’s been a brutal couple of weeks for both of these teams. Creighton was looking like one of the best teams in the country and then its starting point guard Maurice Watson (12.9 ppg, 8.5 apg) tore his ACL. Xavier was having success to a lesser extent, but then the recently returned Myles Davis left the team and this past weekend Edmond Sumner (15 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 5 apg) tore his ACL. But the teams have to move on and both have already won hard-fought Games this week.
Creighton already lost at home to Marquette while giving up 102 points and then at Georgetown by 20 points, so it definitely hasn’t been easy on them. However, a recent win at Butler was impressive and Creighton already won at Xavier 72-67 in the Game that Watson got injured in. As for the Musketeers, they’ve had less time without Sumner with Wednesday’s Game against Seton Hall being the first one. They struggled against the Pirates, but got help from the bench and pulled out a win. Already a team that had difficulties on the road, it won’t be easy in their first road Game without Sumner. It also doesn’t help that Sumner played 35 minutes in that first meeting.
Xavier will turn to freshman guard Quentin Goodin for heavy minutes. He averages 15 on the season, but could be headed for closer to 30 per night from here on out after reaching 35 against Seton Hall. He played well and scored 16 points at St. John’s last weekend, but he’s still largely inexperienced at this stage and was 2-of-11 from the floor on Wednesday. The Musketeers will count on leading scorer Trevon Bluiett to possibly Scoreeven more and hope JP MACura starts hitting more of his shots. The issue is that they don’t really have a post Game between RaShid Gaston and Sean O’Mara, but one of them will have to step up.
On the other side, Creighton also had to turn to a freshman in Davion Mintz and he’s been largely outmatched so far, although Tyler Clement picked up the slack in their win over DePaul. The bigger problem for the Bluejays is that Watson did everything in this offense and that’s seen in his assist numbers. Without him, leading scorer Marcus Foster has had to play on the ball a little more rather than off it, which hasn’t helped his shooting numbers. The same can be said of Khyri Thomas, who has also played more point guard than accustomed to. But the best thing for Creighton, is that it has a big guy it can turn to in 7-footer Justin Patton. While he can’t be completely relied on, he’s the team’s second-best scorer and can be the difference in a Game like this.
Based on how little time these teams have been playing without their point guards, this Game is a little harder to bet on. However, playing at home, the Bluejays still have a better all-around offense with Foster and Patton, something Xavier didn’t show in the first matchup. The Musketeers were already having road troubles with Sumner in the lineup, so without him, this one could go worse.
Our Pick – Xavier by 1