College Basketball Betting Preview: UAB Blazers at Creighton BluejaysUAB at (15) Creighton
Time: 8 PM EST
TV: ESPN 3
Spread: CRE -16
Betting Odds from Bookmaker
UAB head coach Mike Davis led the Blazers to the NCAA tournament last year, but was ultimately let go. The Blazers hired UNC assistant Jerod Hasse, who has a tough road to keep the UAB relevant. It will help that Memphis, UCF, SMU and Houston have headed to the Big East.
UAB has two of their top three scorers back this season, though, in Jordan Swing and Preston Purifoy. Swing put up 11.2 points per game last year and Purifoy added 8.6 points per game. They also added Terence Jones into the mix.
Jones started 73 games and averaged 9.4 points per game in his three seasons at Texas A&M Corpus Cristi. The goal for the Blazers is likely just to be in the top half of Conference-USA, but fans will be disappointed that the team isn’t in the field of 64 when March comes, either way.
Creighton returns 9 of their top 10 players from last year’s squad. They went 29-6 last year with a 14-4 record in the MVC. They beat Alabama by one point in the opening round of the NCAA tournament last year, then lost badly to UNC in the second round. This year, the bar is set higher.
Creighton is a heavy favorite in the MVC and is ranked 15th nationally. They haven’t been this good in almost a decade, since Kyle Korver led them to 29 wins, but their offense this year is what is going to make them very good. That charge is led by 6’8″ junior forward Doug McDermott.
McDermott put up 22.9 points per game last year as a sophomore and hit over 60 percent from the floor. He’s a near-lock to win MVC player of the year, and he’s been working hard on becoming a more versatile ball handler, in addition to developing better footwork still.
“Guys are going to look up to me. We all have to do a better job of being better leaders, and it starts on the defensive end of the floor,” McDermott said.
Really, defense is going to be the determining factor in how good this Bluejays team can be, because they have the scoring. In addition to McDermott, they have some other strong men on the inside. Gregory Echenique, a 6’9″ 270 pound banger, averaged 9.7 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game last year, while also blocking 57 shots last season. Sophomore Will Artino and 7-foot redshirt freshman Geoff Groselle will provide depth behind McDermott and Echenique.
Losing Antoine Young will hurt the team, but Austin Chatman should be ready to take the reigns. Chatman played all 35 game slast season and is a great distributor, a true pass-first point guard. Chatman and senior Grant Gibbs will be adequate ball distributors for the talented Bluejays squad. Just keep an eye on their defense.