Creighton vs. Connecticut Expert Pick and Prediction – January 17, 2024
CREIGHTON VS. CONNECTICUT EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – January 17, 2024 — January games don’t get much bigger than this one. The Huskies and the Bluejays both stumbled out of the gate in Big East play, but they’re now playing for first place. Along with Seton Hall and Marquette, they’ve been the most dominant sides in the league, making this an intriguing matchup.
And if the past is any indication, this is going to be another knockdown dogfight. The teams have met seven times since UConn rejoined the Big East, and all of them have been decided by single digits. Out of the past five, only one was decided by more than four points, and these have almost exclusively been defensive affairs.
Connecticut has seen a large uptick in its offense lately, hitting 80 points in each of its past four games. But only Alabama and Iowa — two teams known for hitting the gas at all times — have hit that number against the Bluejays. The recent surge in offense says that this game might be higher scoring than usual, but Creighton’s rock-solid defense will likely have plenty to say about that.
(13-4 SU, 9-8 ATS)
(15-2 SU, 10-7 ATS)
When: Wednesday, January 17 at 7 p.m. EST
Where: Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, Conn.
Public Bets: 60% on Creighton
Public Money: Unavailable
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of January 16th, 2024.
Creighton vs. Connecticut In-Season Trends
The Huskies have pushed over in four straight games, which is why the market reacted accordingly. But DePaul and Georgetown are the two worst teams in the conference, and Butler’s been an over team all season. Before that, Connecticut had played seven games against power conference teams and gone 2-5 to the over, including playing under in both defeats.
Creighton has been where totals go to die. The Bluejays excel at locking down opponents, playing to the under in all six Big East games. Usually, Creighton doesn’t even come close to its expected team total, falling at least 10 points short in five of its six Big East games this season.
Creighton’s effort is mostly built around guards Baylor Scheierman and Trey Alexander and center Ryan Kalkbrenner. All three can rebound, Kalkbrenner presents an intimidating presence inside and the two guards shoot well and take advantage at the line. In fact, Creighton’s only weak link at the stripe is Kalkbrenner; every other starter shoots at least 78 percent from the line.
Connecticut will likely win or lose the game on the arc. Cam Spencer and Alex Karaban both shoot above 40% from 3-point range, something nobody from Creighton can match. But if their big guns aren’t hitting, the Huskies really don’t have a plan C who can pick up the slack.
The way these teams play lends itself to the under in a big way. Connecticut and Creighton both like to slow things down before they take a shot, and the Bluejays tend to force teams to wait for an opening before getting a look anyway.
Creighton makes you use the entire shot clock, and Connecticut’s fine with playing that way. The Huskies’ offensive exploits likely come to an end here. They might win the game at home, but I’m taking a free couple baskets with Creighton, given their history.