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Free NCAA Basketball Picks: Creighton Faces Wildcats in Big East Showdown

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Oskeim Sports previews Sunday’s college basketball game between Villanova and Creighton.  Oskeim recommends grabbing the available points with the Blue Jays as one of his free NCAA basketball picks for Sunday.

Oskeim also suggests taking St. Peter’s at home over Marist as one of his free NCAA basketball picks for January 13.

Despite the fact that Creighton entered the 2018-19 campaign with a young team (8 of the 12 scholarship players are freshmen and sophomores), head coach Greg McDermott has been extremely impressed with his squad’s chemistry on and off the court. McDermott’s recruiting class is rated in the top 50 by respected analysts and the veteran coach has been pleased with the infusion of energy.

“There’s a youthful energy about our workouts, and that vibe is kind of refreshing,” McDermott said. “I think this group is hungry. I think we have a lot of skill. I think the chemistry is really good.”

McDermott has challenged his young squad from the outset as the Blue Jays own a top-10 schedule, having already played eleven teams that won 21 games or more in 2017-18. Creighton knocked off Providence away from home and took down No. 16 Clemson on a neutral floor.

Creighton’s potent offense is averaging 84.9 points per game on 51.5% shooting from the field and 44.2% from beyond the arc against teams that would combine to allow 71.5 points per game to a mediocre attack. The Blue Jays are averaging 88.0 points per game at home where they are converting 53.0% of their field goal attempts and 48.8% of their three-pointers.

The Blue Jays rank second nationally in three-point percentage, second in total three-pointers (193), third in three-pointers made per game (12.1) and third in field goal percentage. Creighton leads the Big East Conference with a 51.5 percent field goal percentage, 44.2 percent three-point marksmanship, and 84.9 points per game.

The Blue Jays have six players averaging 9.4 points per game or more with sophomore guards Ty-Shon Alexander (17.1 ppg) and Mitch Ballock (11.2 ppg) leading the way.

Creighton’s long-term success this season will be predicated on the production of senior center Martin Krampelj, who was on his way to winning the Big East Conference ‘s most improved player award last year when he suffered a season-ending ACL tear.

The 6-9 center shot nearly 70 percent from the field and led the Blue Jays in both rebounding and blocked shots. Krampelj had an excellent offseason and is coming on strong of late, averaging 16.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in Creighton’s last six games.

Krampelj’s presence on the court provides McDermott with greater flexibility with his lineups, allowing him to go big or small. Creighton’s frontcourt is strengthed by New Mexico transfer Damien Jefferson, who is averaging 9.4 points (56.0% FG%, 44.8% 3-PT%) and 5.4 rebounds per game. Creighton’s deep and talented backcourt provides coach McDermott with a myriad of options.

Davion Mintz led the Big East Conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.82) and gives the Blue Jays an experienced point guard to operate the offense. Mintz had the best offensive game of his career on January 9 versus Marquette in which he finished shooting 8-for-14 overall.

The junior from Charlotte finished with career-highs in points (21), three-pointers (5), field goals (8), field goal attempts (14), three-point attempts (8) and minutes played (39).

Mintz is now averaging 12.7 points per game in conference play and has just two turnovers in those contests. Alexander leads the team in scoring this season (17.1.0 points per game) and is shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc. His rapid development is a critical component to Creighton’s postseason hopes this season.

The Blue Jays are 124-29 at home under McDermott 221-47 (.830) all-time inside the friendly confines of CHI Health Center Omaha, outscoring their opponents by an average of 12.64 points per game.

Grab the points with Creighton as one of Oskeim Sports‘ free NCAA basketball picks for Sunday.

Oskeim Sports’ Free NCAA Basketball Picks for January 13:

  • Creighton (+1.5) (-110) over Villanova
  • St. Peter’s (+1) (-110) over Marist