2016 NIT Quarterfinals
#4 Creighton Blue Jays at #2 Brigham Young Cougars
Marriot Center – Provo, Utah
Tuesday, March 22, 2016, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: BYU -4 1/2
Current Line: BYU -4 1/2
Opening Total: 161 1/2
Current Total: 165 1/2
Opening Money Line: BYU -200 / Creighton +170
Current Money Line: BYU -190 / Creighton +165
The 25-10 Brigham Young Cougars host the 20-14 Creighton Blue Jays in the NIT quarterfinals Tuesday in Provo. The winner will advance to the semifinals next week in New York to face either Valparaiso or St. Mary’s. BYU leads the series 6-3 against Creighton including a 77-65 win in Omaha in 2010 in the last meeting.
Creighton is coached by Greg McDermott. The Blue Jays finished sixth in the Big East at 9-9. Creighton lost to Seton Hall 81-73 in the Big East quarterfinals. Creighton beat #5 Alabama 72-54 in the first round and #8 Wagner 87-54 in the second round Saturday. Both games were in Omaha. Creighton is in the NIT for the 11th time but hasn’t made the semifinals since 1942.
Creighton has road losses at Indiana, Loyola-Illinois, Oklahoma, Georgetown, Villanova, Butler, Providence, and Xavier, plus home losses to Arizona State, Villanova, Providence, Seton Hall, and Marquette. Creighton has neutral site wins over Rutgers and Massachusetts in Las Vegas, plus road wins at St. John’s, Seton Hall, DePaul, and Marquette. The Blue Jays have home wins over Texas Southern, UTSA, Nebraska, North Texas, Georgetown, Butler, DePaul, Xavier, and St. John’s. Creighton is 20-13 ATS and the total is 18-14-1 this season. The Blue Jays were 14.5 point favorites against Wagner and the total was 145.
BYU is coached by Dave Rose. The Cougars finished in third place in the West Coast Conference at 13-5. The Cougars lost to Gonzaga 88-84 in the WCC semifinals. BYU was given a #2 seed in the NIT. The Cougars beat #7 seed UAB 97-79 in the first round and #3 seed Virginia Tech 80-77 in the second round Friday, both in Provo. BYU is making their 12th trip to the NIT and has won it twice but the last championship was in 1965. The Cougars made the semifinals in 2013.
BYU has a neutral site loss to Harvard in Hawaii, plus road losses at Long Beach State, Utah, Colorado, St, Mary’s, Portland, and Pepperdine. The Cougars have home losses to Pacific and Gonzaga. BYU has neutral site wins over Weber State in Salt Lake City, New Mexico and Northern Iowa in Hawaii, and Santa Clara in the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas. The Cougars have road wins at Pacific, Gonzaga, Loyola Marymount, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and San Diego. BYU has home wins over Belmont, Utah State, Central Michigan, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, St. Mary’s, San Diego and Portland. The Cougars are 17-14-1 ATS and the total is 17-15 this season. BYU was an 8 point favorite against Virginia Tech and the total was 164.5.
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Creighton is outscoring teams 80-72 this season. The Blue Jays are #29 nationally in scoring. Creighton is shooting 47.1% from the field and 35.3% from three point range. The Blue Jays make 70.2% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 42.9% from the field and 34.5% from three point range. Creighton averages 37.1 rebounds per game and opponents average 32.5 per game. The Blue Jays average 15.3 assists, 11.7 turnovers, 6.1 steals and 3.1 blocks per game. Opponents average 13.1 assists, 12.6 turnovers, 6.4 steals and 3.1 blocks per game.
Maurice Watson, Jr. averages 14.2 points, 6.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1 steal per game. Cole Huff averages 11.1 points, and 4.9 rebounds per game. Geoffrey Groselle averages 10.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Isaiah Zierden averages 10.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game, but is out for the season with a shoulder injury. James Milliken averages 9.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Three other players will get time in the rotation.
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BYU is outscoring teams 84-73 this season. The Cougars are #9 nationally in scoring. BYU is shooting 46.4% from the field and 38.4% from three point range. The Cougars make 68.9% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 41.4% from the field and 33.1% from three point range. Brigham Young averages 40.9 rebounds per game and opponents average 31.4 per game. BYU is #13 nationally in rebounding. The Cougars average 16.8 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 6.7 steals and 4.3 blocks per game. Opponents average 13.6 assists, 13.2 turnovers, 5.5 steals and 3.6 blocks per game.
Chase Fischer averages 18.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1 steal per game. Nick Emery averages 16.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Kyle Collinsworth averages 15.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game. He is questionable with an illness. Kyle Davis averages 11.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 blocks per game. Six other players get time in the rotation.
Creighton is 6-1 ATS in non-conference games, 7-2 in Tuesday games, 5-2 after a straight up win, and 27-13-1 overall.
BYU is 12-3-1 ATS after a cover, 7-3-1 in non-conference games, 2-6 against Big East teams, 1-4 overall, and 0-4 in Tuesday games.
If Collinsworth can’t play, then Creighton has a much better shot at pulling off the upset. However, Provo is a tough place to play with the altitude and frenzied Cougar fans. This should be a high scoring game as both teams like to play in the 80’s. I think BYU wins a close game at home to advance to the semifinals.