West Region Third Round Betting Preview: #6 Baylor Bears vs #3 Creighton Bluejays

2014 NCAA Tournament
West Region – Third Round

AT&T Center – San Antonio, Texas
#6 Baylor Bears vs #3 Creighton Bluejays
Sunday, March 23, 2014, 7:40 pm Eastern, TV: TruTV
Opening Line: Creighton -4
Current Line: Creighton -3 1/2
Opening Total: 144 1/2
Current Total: 143
Opening Money Line: Creighton -160 / Baylor +135
Current Money Line: Creighton -170 / Baylor +145

Creighton is a 3.5 point favorite over Baylor in the West region third round Sunday in San Antonio.
Creighton is a 3.5 point favorite over Baylor in the West region third round Sunday in San Antonio.

The 25-11 Baylor Bears and 27-7 Creighton Bluejays meet in the West Region third round Sunday in San Antonio. The winner between the #6 seed Bears and #3 seed Bluejays will face #2 seed Wisconsin in the West Regional semifinals in Anaheim next week.

Baylor went 9-9 in the Big 12 and tied for sixth with West Virginia. Baylor was seeded 7th in the Big 12 Tournament, and made it all the way to the Championship game. The Bears beat Oklahoma in the quarters and Texas in the semifinals, before losing 74-65 to Iowa State in the championship game. Baylor is looking for their third trip to the sweet 16 in the last 5 seasons. The Bears beat #11 seed Nebraska 74-60 in Friday’s second round.

Creighton moved from the Missouri Valley Conference to the Big East. The step-up in competition didn’t affect the Bluejays as they finished second in the Big East at 14-4 two games behind Villanova. Creighton lost to Providence 65-58 in the Big East Championship game. The Bluejays beat #14 seed Louisiana 76-66 in the second round Thursday.

Creighton has won all three previous meetings against Baylor, but they haven’t played since 1999.

Baylor is coached by Scott Drew. The Bears have losses to Syracuse in the Maui Invitational, Iowa State twice, at Texas Tech, Oklahoma twice, Kansas twice, Texas twice,  and West Virginia. Baylor has key wins over Colorado in Dallas, South Carolina, Dayton in Maui, Kentucky in Arlington, TX, Oral Roberts, TCU twice, Oklahoma State twice, Kansas State twice, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas. The Bears are 14-13-2 ATS and the total is 15-12-1 this season.

Baylor is outscoring teams 76-68 this season. The Bears are shooting 45.6% from the field and 39% from 3 point range. Baylor is #28 nationally  in three point shooting. The Bears are #264 nationally out of 351 teams in free throw shooting making 67.2% from the line. Baylor opponents are shooting 42.4% from the field and 36.3% from 3 point range. Baylor is #281 nationally in 3 point defense. The Bears average 38.7 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.1 per game. Baylor is #26 in rebounding and #61 in rebounds allowed nationally. The Bears average 15 assists, 11.8 turnovers, 5.2 steals and 5.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 15.1 assists, 10.4 turnovers, 5.4 steals and 2.7 blocks per game.

Baylor forward Cory Jefferson averages 13.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Guard Brady Heslip averages 11.8 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. Guard Kenny Chery averages 11.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 5 assists per game. Center Isaiah Austin averages 11 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 3.3 blocks per game. Forward Royce O’Neale averages 7.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Forward Taurean Prince averages 6.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Forward Rico Gathers averages 6.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1 steal per game. Gary Franklin, and Ish Wainwright will also get significant minutes in the rotation. Guard Allerik Freeman is out indefinitely with a broken hand, and hasn’t played yet this season.

Creighton is coached by Greg McDermott. The Bluejays have losses to San Diego State and George Washington in a tournament in Fullerton, CA, Providence twice, at St. John’s, at Xavier, and at Georgetown. Creighton has key wins at St. Joseph’s, Tulsa, Arizona State in Fullerton, at Long Beach State, Nebraska, California, Marquette twice, Seton Hall twice, DePaul three times, Xavier twice, Butler twice, Villanova twice, Georgetown and St. John’s. Creighton is 18-14 ATS and the total is 13-18-1 ATS this season.

Creighton is outscoring teams 80-67 this season. The Bluejays are #22 nationally in scoring. Creighton is shooting 49.9% from the field and 42.2% from 3 point range. The Bluejays are #4 in field goal shooting and #1 in three point shooting nationally. Creighton is #16 in free throw shooting nationally making 75.2% at the line. Bluejay opponents are shooting 42.2% from the field and 33.6% from 3 point range. Creighton is averaging  34.5 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.4 per game. The Bluejays average 17.7 assists, 9.9 turnovers, 4.1 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.2 assists, 9.9 turnovers, 5 steals and 2.7 blocks per game.

Creighton forward Doug McDermott (son of coach Greg) is the consensus favorite to win the national player of the year. McDermott averages 26.9 points, 7 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. He is fifth on the NCAA career scoring list.  Forward Ethan Wragge averages 10.5 points and 4 rebounds. Guard Austin Chapman averages 7.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Guard Grant Gibbs averages 7.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. Guard Jahenna Manigat averages 7.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Guard Devin Brooks average 6.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game.  Will Artino and Avery Dingman also get minutes in the rotation. Guard Isaiah Zierden is out for the season with a knee injury.

Baylor is 5-1 ATS against teams with winning records, 9-3-1 overall, 8-3 in Sunday games, and 10-4 in non-conference games.

Creighton is 5-0 ATS against Big 12 teams, 5-1 in non-conference games, 31-11 in Sunday games, 2-5 against teams with winning records, 2-6 after failing to cover, and 1-7-1 in NCAA Tournament games.

Baylor is playing the kind of basketball that had them ranked in the top 10 earlier in the season. Despite being the higher seeded team Baylor has almost a home game in nearby San Antonio. McDermott is the best player in the nation. Still I like Baylor to pull off the mild upset with their defense.

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