Butler vs #14 Creighton Road to March Madness

Butler vs #14 Creighton Road to March Madness | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on March 5, 2021

It’s the regular-season finale Saturday for Butler and No. 14 Creighton as they meet in Omaha with not much otherwise at stake Saturday. The Bluejays will be big favorites on the NCAAB odds as Butler has lost arguably its best player. Creighton is +2500 to win the national title.

How to Bet Butler at Creighton NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

Last Meeting

On Jan. 16, Creighton was ranked No. 8 when it was upset 70-66 in OT at Butler, which rallied from down 13. Bulldogs guard Aaron Thompson scored 17 points and found Bryce Nze for the go-ahead layup with 68 seconds left in overtime. Butler was down 58-45 with 7:38 left in regulation. After missing 14 consecutive shots, the Bulldogs answered with a 17-2 run. Butler had three chances on the final possession of regulation to win it but missed all three shots. Creighton was without star guard Marcus Zegarowski due to a hamstring injury.

Why Bet on Butler? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Butler (9-13) will finish the season without star guard Aaron Thompson because of a shoulder injury, coach LaVall Jordan announced Thursday. Thompson, a 6-2 senior, fell and landed on his shoulder late in a Feb. 17 loss to Marquette, and he has missed the subsequent three games. Even though he’s a senior, Thompson can return next season if he wants. Thompson was averaging 10.4 points and 4.7 assists.

Butler has been ravaged by injuries, losing 66 player games: Scooby Johnson (22), JaKobe Coles (16), Christian David (14), Thompson (eight), Bo Hodges (two), Bryce Nze (two), Bryce Golden (one), Chuck Harris (one).

The Bulldogs did pull a stunning upset Sunday, though, 73-61 at home over No. 8 Villanova.  Butler limited Villanova to 2-of-27 shooting from three-point range in the game and the Bulldogs’ last four opponents have combined to shoot only 15-of-91 from three-point range (16.5 percent)

Freshman Chuck Harris had a game-high 20 points, his fourth 20-point game of the season. Fifteen of Harris’s points came in the first half. Senior Bryce Nze posted his fifth double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Nze tied a career-high with five assists.

Harris was named Big East Freshman of the Week on Monday. For the week, he averaged 17.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, shooting 50 percent from the field. Harris was only the third Bulldog to earn Freshman of the Week honors since the Bulldogs joined the Big East prior to the 2013-14 season. He joins Kelan Martin (final week of the 2014-15 regular season) and Kamar Baldwin (twice during the 2016-17 season) on that list.

Among freshmen in the Big East, only Marquette’s Dawson Garcia averages more (13.3) points than Harris (12.0). Harris ranks fifth in the Big East in free throw percentage (.827) and 10th in three-point percentage (.389). Freshmen have scored 35 percent of Butler’s points so far this season.

Why Bet on Creighton? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Creighton lost its second in a row Wednesday, 72-60 at No. 10 Villanova. The loss means that Creighton (17-7, 13-6 Big East) will be the No. 2 seed at next week’s conference tournament. Nova will be the top seed.

Villanova built a 19-point first half lead and then persevered when its lead shrank to five points in the second half.    Villanova prevailed by stifling the same Bluejays offense that connected on 59 percent of its field goal attempts and 86 points in the first meeting between these two teams in Omaha last month. On Wednesday, Creighton connected on just .387 of its field goal attempts and was 10-of-33 from beyond the arc.

The Wildcats’ win was overshadowed by a first half knee injury suffered by Bob Cousy Award finalist Collin Gillespie. Gillespie was injured on a play under the Creighton basket and came up favoring his left knee. It is thought the injury is serious.

Damien Jefferson scored 11 of his 13 points after halftime and added eight rebounds and four assists for the Bluejays. Also in double-figures were veteran guards Mitch Ballock (14) and Marcus Zegarowski (10).

Ballock set a Big East record by playing in her 73rd career league game. He also moved into the top-25 on Creighton’s all-time scoring list, passing Ty-Shon Alexander, and now owns 1,252 career points. Zegarowski moved from 32nd to 30th on Creighton’s all-time scoring list with 1,157 career points to pass Dane Watts and Ethan Wragge.

Creighton had won 21 straight games when getting 13 points or more from its bench.  CU’s seven losses have come by a combined 41 points. The Villanova defeat was the Bluejays’ first this season by double digits.

Expert College Basketball Prediction

Creighton 73, Butler 63


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