#5 Creighton vs #1 Gonzaga | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

#5 Creighton vs #1 Gonzaga | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on March 25, 2021

The first of four NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 games on Sunday features No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga, the favorite on the NCAAB odds to win the Big Dance, against Big East school and fifth-seeded Creighton. The Zags are heavy favorites.

How to Bet Creighton vs. Gonzaga NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info
  • When: Sunday, 2:10 PM ET
  • Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
  • TV: CBS
  • Stream: https://www.ncaa.com/march-madness-live
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAB Lines: Gonzaga -13.5 (total 158)
Last Meeting

Gonzaga leads all-time 2-0 vs. Creighton. The schools last met early in the 2017-18 season and the Zags won 91-74 at home when they were ranked No. 15 in the nation and Creighton No. 25. Creighton led 44-37 at halftime, after shooting 58 percent. But the Bluejays were outscored 54-30 in the second half as their shooting percentage dropped to 37.9 while the Zags were making better than 62 percent of their shots.

Why Bet on Creighton? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

A shocking 73-48 loss to Georgetown in the Big East tournament title game seemed to suggest the Bluejays had lost a step after a turbulent stretch late in the season. Then they beat UC Santa Barbara in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament — but only after the Gauchos ended the game with a series of mistakes in the 63-62 loss.

However, Creighton (22-8) looked much better in Round 2 with a 72-58 win over No. 13 Ohio. A 23-5 run spanning halftime was the difference. It’s the first time Creighton has won consecutive NCAA Tournament games in the same season in program history, and first time among the final 16 teams since 1974. Back in 1974, the tournament field was just 25 teams.

Star Marcus Zegarowski led five Bluejays in double-figures with 20 points. Creighton got a combined 68 points from its starting five, getting 15 from Damien Jefferson, 12 from Christian Bishop, 11 from Denzel Mahoney and 10 from Mitch Ballock.

Bishop closed the game with a double-double, his sixth of the season, grabbing a career-high 15 rebounds. Those 15 rebounds were the most by a Bluejay in an NCA Tournament game since Bob Harstad had 16 vs. New Mexico State in 1991 and the most by a Bluejay in any game since Ronnie Harrell Jr. had 15 vs. UCLA on Nov. 20, 2017.

Zegarowski passed Bob Gibson on CU’s all-time scoring chart with 1,274 career points. Ballock passed Marcus Foster (1,292) for 21st on Creighton’s all-time scoring chart with 1,299 points.

Greg McDermott is now 5-5 in six NCAA Tournament appearances at Creighton. The Bluejays’ 22 victories are four more than any other Big East team this season.

Why Bet on Gonzaga? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Gonzaga (28-0) won every game but one by double digits during the season and has won each in the NCAA Tournament by at least 16 points.

Oklahoma is a quality Big 12 team, but the Sooners just didn’t have the juice to compete for 40 minutes with this stacked Gonzaga team on Monday. The 87-71 win by Mark Few’s program in the second round was another sign that Gonzaga is clearly the best team in America. Good teams don’t seem to have a shot against Gonzaga; West Virginia’s five-point defeat on Dec. 2 was the closest.

The Sooners were the first power conference opponent for Gonzaga since it embarrassed Virginia in late December. Drew Timme scored a career-high 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds vs. Oklahoma. He shot 9-of-12 from the floor and 12-of-14 from the free-throw line. His offensive rating of 168 was his second-highest mark of the season. Timme’s game score, a number created by analytics guru John Hollinger to give a rough measure of productivity for a single game (40 is outstanding, 10 is average) was 32.8.

Corey Kispert finished with 16 points, as did freshman star Jalen Suggs, who took an awkward tumble on a flagrant foul by Oklahoma’s Elijah Harkless in the closing seconds and had to be restrained by teammates. Joel Ayayi added 12 points, 10 in the first half.

There have been few weak spots for Gonzaga all season, but free throw shooting has occasionally been a bit of a bug for the Bulldogs, who shoot just 72.7% from the line. However, they finished 23-for-26 from the line against Oklahoma.

The Zags are on a 32-game winning streak overall and are in the Sweet 16 for a sixth straight year. Both are the longest active streaks in the nation.  The last time Gonzaga was eliminated before the tournament’s second weekend was in 2015, when the Bulldogs were a No. 8 seed.

Game Trends
  • Bluejays are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as an underdog.
  • Bluejays are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight up win.
  • Bluejays are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games as an underdog.
  • Bulldogs are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Sunday games.
  • Bulldogs are 9-4-2 ATS in their last 15 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
  • Bulldogs are 5-11-1 ATS in their last 17 games following a ATS win.

Expert NBA Prediction

Gonzaga 84, Creighton 74


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