Creighton Tipped to Cover in First-Round Tilt Against Rhode Island

Creighton Bluejays player celebrating

Jay Pryce

Tuesday, March 14, 2017 3:58 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 14, 2017 3:58 PM UTC

No. 6 Creighton better watch out, as 11-seeds knocked out three of four in the first round of last year's NCAA tournament. Rhode Island, though, may have trouble against the Blue Jays' efficient offense. Pick and preview here.

    Rhode Island vs Creighton

Midwest Region, First Round
Friday, March 17th - 4:30 pm E.T


In the words of the legendary Dick Vitale, the 6-11 pairing was upset city in last year’s tournament. Three 6-seeds were sent packing, though one (Seton Hall) tipped off an underdog. Since 2001, the lower rank is just 37-27 SU and 30-33-1 ATS in the first round. Creighton opened a 2-point favorite for its matchup in NCAA basketball odds against a much-improved Rhode Island squad on Friday (4:40 p.m. ET), the line bet down to 1 point in early trading.

Rhode Island was ranked No. 23 in the AP Top 25 preseason poll but started the season just 6-4 SU and 4-6 ATS. Guard E.C. Matthews struggled with his game, and leading scorer Hassan Martin missed a handful of contests in December following a quad injury. The Rams are living up to expectations late, going 7-0 SU and 5-2 ATS to close out the year. This included a convincing 70-63 win over VCU in the A10 championship game. The Rams are defense-first, ranking 32nd in Kenpom’s adjusted efficiency ratings. The unit protects the paint forcefully, leading the nation with an 11.4 percent block percentage.

Creighton went 18-1 SU and 13-4 ATS to open the season, reaching No. 8 in the AP Top 25 Poll. Then it lost star point guard Maurice Watson to a torn ACL to his left knee in a January victory over rivals Xavier. Watson led the nation in assists at the time of his injury, accounting for 35 points per game when you added up the helpers. Since, the Blue Jays are 7-7 SU and 6-8 ATS, averaging 9.3 points per game less, though some of the drops is courtesy of a tough Big East schedule.

Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley is 0-6 SU and 2-4 ATS all-time against the Big East, twice losing outright as chalk. Points are tough to come by for the Rams, averaging 58.8 per game. They’ve gone over their team total once in this spot. Creighton head coach Greg McDermott, meanwhile, is 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS against A10 opponents, tipping off favorites in each by a 5.2-point average. 

Both teams struggle against good shooting teams, and Creighton is much better in that department with the third best effective field goal rate nationally (58.0). Rhode Island is 2-4 SU and ATS in six games against teams averaging better than 47 percent from the floor for the season. Creighton comes in shooting 51 percent. The Blue Jays are 20-4 SU and 17-7 against teams shooting 48 percent or less on the year. The Rams enter posting a 45.1 percent rate. Expect a close contest, but lay the single digit with better-shooting Creighton for your March Madness picks.

 Free NCAAB Picks: Creighton Bluejays  -1Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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