The Matchups: Xavier vs Creighton

Before every game, MusketeerReport breaks down the position-by-position matchups for X's opponent. This edition focuses on the Musketeers’ final regular game of the season at Creighton.

Remy Abell JR (6-4, 194) vs Austin Chatman SR (6-0, 175)

Chatman is a quick guard that serves as Creighton’s leader at both ends of the court. He is on pace to join Nate Funk,  Kyle Korver and Kevin McKenna as Bluejays to lead the team in points and assists in the same season with an average of 11 points and 3.7 assists per game. He’s averaged 18.3 points over the last three games, and he’s done it by shooting the ball from the outside despite only hitting at a 30.9 percent clip overall on the year. During that stretch, he nailed 14-of-27 from beyond the arc, including 4-of-7 on Tuesday night when he scored 21 points in the Bluejays loss to Villanova. Last game against Xavier on February 4, he was 4-of-11 from the field (2-6 3PT) and finished with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. Abell came up big in the first meeting between those teams as he nailed 4-of-5 threes to finish with 16 points, his highest total against a Big East opponent. Last Saturday against Villanova, he had seven points and was just 1-of-5 from beyond the arc. The Musketeers need him to be a tone-setter on the defensive end in this one.

Slight Edge Creighton

Dee Davis SR (6-0, 170) vs Devin Brooks SR (6-2, 175)

Brooks is a combo guard that is athletic and is capable of creating plays for himself or his teammates. He’s not the tallest guy, but he has some length and quickness that helps him against Xavier’s guards. He was aggressive on offense and on the boards the last time he played against the Musketeers as he racked up 13 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and three steals. For the season, he’s averaging 7.8 points, 4.9 boards and 3.0 assists in 22.8 minutes per game. He’s an awful shooter at 34.7 percent from the field and 23.9 percent from deep, but his ability to make plays is huge for this Creighton team that lacks athleticism at other positions. Davis had 12 points (4-10 FG), nine assists and no turnovers in the last game the Musketeers played against Creighton. Against Villanova last Saturday, he had seven points, nine rebounds and six assists with two turnovers.

Even

Myles Davis SO (6-2, 195) vs James Milliken JR (6-2, 180)

Milliken is a crafty scorer with range out to the perimeter and the ability to score in the paint off penetration. Last game against Xavier, he had 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting (2-4 3PT). He’s coming off a 12-point performance (4-6 FG, 3-4 3PT) on Tuesday against Villanova. For the season, he’s averaging 8.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 34.7 percent from 3-point range. Davis didn’t have one of his better nights when Creighton visited the Cintas early in February. He finished with 11 points on just 2-of-7 shooting from the field. He was successful in breaking the Bluejays down off the bounce and finished with four assists, but he struggled to finish shots himself. He was also only 1-of-4 from 3-point range. Over the last two games, he’s failed to score in double-figures and hit just 2-of-11 from long distance. The Musketeers need him to turn it around.

Slight Edge Xavier

Trevon Bluiett FR (6-6, 215) vs Rick Kreklow SR (6-7, 195)

Kreklow is the biggest matchup problem Creighton has for Xavier – not so much because of his physical attributes but because of the way he plays. He proved that in the first game when he got loose for 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range to go with three rebounds and three assists in the first game against the Musketeers. He followed that game up with back-to-back double-digit efforts, including a 19-point game against Marquette. Tuesday against Villanova, he finished with 11 points (4-9 FG, 2-5 3PT), two rebounds and two assists. He’s a face-up forward that floats around the perimeter and looks for threes. He has a low usage rate, and Creighton doesn’t rely on him to make any plays. Xavier tends to struggle with shooters that aren’t super involved in the opponent’s offense. The Musketeers just have to make sure that they know where Kreklow is at all times and stay focused on running him off the 3-point line. Bluiett could turn this matchup around more than any other individual on the floor for either team. Last time X faced Creighton, he was 0-for-6 from the floor and finished with two points and two rebounds in 32 minutes. Other than that performance and the Cincinnati game, Bluiett has been pretty reliable as a scorer down the stretch in Big East play.

Slight Edge Xavier

Matt Stainbrook SR (6-10, 270) vs Will Artino SR (6-11, 230)

Artino is a big body that understands his role, which is to rebound and defend. Occasionally, he’ll get a good matchup and score on pick-and-rolls or stick backs. He’s averaging 6.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in 16.1 minutes of action. He was in foul trouble and only played seven minutes in the first game against Xavier, finishing with four points on 2-of-3 shooting. He’s scored just two points in each of the last two games. Stainbrook forced Creighton to crowd him in the post last time these teams played, and finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. He struggled to finish at times in that game (4-of-9 FG) though, and also had a rough time defensively because of how well the Bluejays spaced the floor. The Musketeers have to make sure they use Stainbrook to their advantage in the post when he’s on the floor. He’s coming off an eight-point (3-3 FG), seven-rebound performance in 20 minutes against Villanova last week.

Moderate Edge Xavier

Xavier Bench vs Creighton Bench

Freshman big man Toby Hegner (6-10, 225) is the Bluejays’ best weapon off of their bench. He’s averaging 7.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 35.8 percent from 3-point range. Junior big man Geoffrey Groselle (7-0, 240) only averages 5.3 points and 2.6 rebounds in 11.8 minutes per game, but he played a big role in the first game against Xavier as he finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. Senior Avery Dingman (6-6, 215) averages 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game off the bench. Like most players in this Creighton rotation, his role varies from game-to-game depending on the matchup. Last time against Xavier, he had four points and five boards in 28 minutes. Sophomore big man Zach Hanson (6-9, 240) is averaging 4.0 points and 2.4 rebounds in 12.2.minutes per game. Like Artino, he's a true post that's mostly used to set screens and rebound. In the first game against Creighton, Xavier got very little lift from its bench outside of Jalen Reynolds’17 points and eight rebounds. James Farr also had four points and three rebounds in 12 minutes of action in that game. J.P. Macura is coming off a six-point performance last Saturday against Villanova, and he’s hit nine of his last 18 from 3-point range.

Slight Edge Xavier

Overall

The Musketeers can feel rather certain about their at-large chances with a win over the Bluejays Creighton’s philosophy on offense is to shoot as many open threes as possible, and on defense the Bluejays’ philosophy is to allow the opponent to shoot as many threes as it likes while crowding the paint. Last time against Xavier, they hit 10-of-24 (42%) from deep. The Musketeers’ transition defense killed them in that game. In the half court, Creighton spaced the floor and ran ball screens with shooters lining the perimeter, forcing X to decide whether to take away the pick-and-roll or stay out on the shooters. There are two big keys in this game for the Musketeers. The first is that they need their frontcourt to be a matchup problem for the Bluejays’. Last game, Stainbrook and Reynolds scored points, but they weren’t able to dominate the paint and allowed Groselle to be way too efficient. The second is they need to hit shots. Last time they were 6-of-19 (32%) from 3-point range, 22-of-57 (39%) from the field and averaged just 0.99 points per possession.

Score prediction: Xavier 72 Creighton 69


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