Villanova - Creighton Preview

VUSports previews today's match-up between #1 Villanova and #10 Creighton ...

New Year’s Eve at 1:00 p.m., #1 AP Villanova takes on #10 Creighton in a battle of 13-0 unbeatens (TV: FS1, Radio: 610 (WTEL AM) or VUSports Live Chat).  The Cats and Bluejays are among the four remaining unbeaten teams in college basketball this season.  Villanova is looking to post a 20th straight win and set a program record by starting a season 14-0 for the first time.

Kenpom predicts a 78-76 win for Villanova with a 56% chance of the Cats emerging victorious.  Both teams stand at 1-0 in Big East play.

Fueled by a high-powered offense, Creighton has posted some impressive wins to start the 2016-17 campaign.  The Bluejays have scored 82+ points in 10 of 13 wins while grabbing wins over Wisconsin (79-67, home), N.C. St. (112-94, Neutral), Mississippi (86-77, Neutral), Nebraska (77-62, Away), Arizona St. (96-85, Away) and Seton Hall (89-75, Home).

One interesting aspect of this match-up will be tempo.  Creighton has one of the quickest offenses in the country - they look to get out in transition and to create good looks at the basket early in possessions.  Can Villanova take care of the ball and shoot the ball well enough to slow down the Creighton offense?  Will Villanova’s 3/4 court pressure slow the Bluejays ability to quickly transition to offense of will Maurice Watson and company be able to shred it and attack off dribble-drive with impunity?

Taking a look at the Four Factors for each team:

VUSports (data per Kenpom.com)

a few things stand out:

  • Creighton plays at a very quick tempo - doing a lot of damage in transition
  • The Bluejays have been shooting the lights out - 44.6% from three, 58.9% from two
  • Villanova continues to be a sub-par offensive rebounding team
  • The Cats do a great job of avoiding fouling on defense - but Creighton does even better
  • Creighton is not a great offensive rebounding team either
  • Neither team gets to the FT line with consistency

other stats of interest:

  • Creighton is shooting 67.2% FTs - could this play a factor in a close game given the Cats shoot 78.2%?
  • Villanova has a similar 2-point shooting percentage to Creighton and should look to avoid getting in a three-point shootout

Creighton player thumbnails:

Maurice Watson (5-10, 175, Sr., 13.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 9.1 APG, 1.7 SPG, 52.6% 3PFG,109.8 ORtg)  He is all about speed and creating off dribble penetration.  He can jet into passing lanes or strip you and turn it into offense on the other end quickly.  An elite playmaker who still struggles at times with turnovers.  He is shooting the ball with efficiency and setting the pace for the Bluejays.

Marcus Foster (6-3, 210, Jr., 28.6 MPG, 18.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 39.3% 3PFG, 113.8 ORtg)  A great athlete with power and hops.  He is pouring them in from deep and getting to the rack with authority - especially in transition.

Khyri Thomas (6-3, 205, So., 12.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 52.9% 3PFG, 135.4 ORtg)  The Soph is really coming into his own this season - shooting 52.9% from three and 62.9% from two-point range.  He, like his teammates, takes good shots and hits a ton of them. 

Justin Patton (7-0, 230, Fr., 12.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.5 BPG, 57.1% 3PFG, 133.5 ORtg)  His achilles heel is his free throw shooting but the seven-footer has three-point range on his jumper and is canning them at over 75% from the floor.  Clearing the defensive boards for the Jays.  A very good shot-blocker and rim protector.

Cole Huff (6-8, 220, Sr., 9.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 51% 3PFG, 125.8 ORtg)  He has experience and knows what is needed of him.  He doesn’t commit fouls, he doesn’t turn it over and, if left unattended, he is a very good three-point shooter.

Toby Hegner (6-10, 235, Jr., 6.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 43.8% 3PFG, 132.4 ORtg)  The junior combines length and skill to be a versatile resource off the bench for Coach McDermott.  Shoots it, defends, and helps out on the glass.  Strong with the ball for a 6-10 player - can pass it a bit.

Isaiah Zierden (6-3, 190, Sr., 4.7 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 45.5% 3PFG, 116.9 ORtg)  Versatile - can get hot from three-point range.  Brings a lot of energy and experience off the pine.

Here is great additional preview info from legendary, VUSports, subscriber ONIN2TO - including shot charts on key Creighton players and plenty more.

Injury: Phil Booth is expected to miss the game for Villanova - he continues to work back against consistent pain in his left knee.

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