Providence Friars (22-11 SU, 17-15-1 ATS)
The Friars were installed as three-point favorites in NCAA basketball odds yesterday and did not disappoint as they punched their ticket to the Big East Finals with an 80-74 victory over Seton Hall. Providence got major contributions from LaDontae Henton, who led the way with 26 points and 14 boards as well as Bryce Cotton who chipped in 18 points while adding 10 assists to the stat sheet and Tyler Harris who netted 14 of his 17 points in the second half to propel the fourth-seeded Friars to their first Big East Final in over a decade.
Providence at this point has pretty much assured themselves a ticket to the Big Dance but a victory over second-seeded Creighton would give them an automatic bid and a higher seed in their bracket. The Friars are currently ranked 99th in scoring, 76th in rebounds but a dismal 261st in field goal percentage amongst the pool of 351 schools that comprise NCAA D-1 basketball. Providence will have to shoot much better than their 42.6 percent season average if they are to have any chance of winning their first Big East Tournament of the new millennium.
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Creighton Bluejays (26-6 SU, 18-12-2 ATS)
As senior Doug McDermott goes, so go the Creighton Bluejays. McDermott is wowing them at Madison Square Garden by first dropping 27 of his 35 points in the first half of his team's quarterfinal matchup with DePaul. That performance catapulted Creighton into a semi-final round with Xavier where McDermott rained down 32 points which paced the Jays to a 86-78 victory and a date with Providence. And don't think for a moment that the Friars are unaware of McDermott's recent heroics as they got a front row seat when he scorched the Providence defense for 45 points on 17-of-25 shooting and rained fire from the three-point mark when he hit five of his seven shots. McDermott knows his NBA draft stock is rising and is now being rumored as a top ten pick.
The Bluejays have won and covered in NCAA college basketball odds their last three games. But their recent performance is in stark contrast to the two road losses they suffered (and ATS money burners) to Xavier on March 1st when they bowed 75-69 as 2 ½ point road chalk and three nights later when the Jays flamed 75-63 to the Hoyas in Georgetown as 3 ½ point favorites. Creighton is currently ranked 14th in the nation and it's because of a prolific scoring machine headed by McDermott that is averaging 80.2 points per game (18th), 2nd in assists per game averaging 17.8 and shooting a lights out 50.1 percent which ranks them 3rd in NCAA D-1 men's basketball.
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These teams have split the season series with each scoring blowout victories on their home courts. Creighton won their most recent contest 88-73 as 11 ½ point home favorites in NCAA basketball odds. This should be a Creighton victory with no Providence player truly capable of shutting down McDermott when he is in a groove. Clearly, he's in a groove.
However, this Providence team is gritty and gets contributions from several sources. They will not go down easy but yes, they will ultimately bow to the sharp shooting Bluejays. So how much better do we feel Creighton is? I think the oddsmakers have this one right as the Jays are currently installed as 7 ½ point favorites. So the side is a pass for me but the total is a different story.
Both games between these teams have gone over the total with relative ease. This one won't be any different as the Friars will be fouling down the stretch before Creighton ultimately wins the East.
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