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Courtside Players Club (1/17/24)

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(1 Pick)

7:00PM EST: UConn -6 (4 Units)

Creighton is 2-4 on the road this year, beating up on some inferior teams and losing to UNLV and Marquette. They've only played a few legitimate teams this season and the results haven't been great. They beat Alabama by 3 at Home, lost at Home to Villanova, lost @ Marquette, and just sneaked by St. John's 66-65 their last time out. A lot of controversy following that final shot and whether Creighton got away with a foul. They have yet to show any semblance to last year's final four team.

The surprise loss of Ryan Nembhard has proven significant. He transferred to Gonzaga because of a personal connection to Mark Few. He was Creighton's primary ball-handler and play maker last year. He was their 4th leading scorer (12.1 PPG), but he averaged 4.8 assists. The next closest was Baylor Scheierman averaging 3.3 assists. Nembhard’s loss has really showed up against quality teams. They replaced him with Utah State transfer Steven Ashworth. While he's a solid player and good shooter he's just 6'1 and lacks Nembhard's quickness and dribbling ability. Trey Alexander can get to the rim off the dribble, but he isn't an elite passer. Against good teams and good defense this Creighton team has been stuck settling for poor contested shots. The Huskies have an elite perimeter defense too.

Connecticut ranks 23rd in opponent 3-PT Rate at 30.6% and Creighton is 4th in that category at 27%. Both teams do a very good job of running you off the 3-PT line and keeping you from getting open looks from deep. UConn's just better and more equipped at everything else. The Huskies are also Red Hot, shooting 45.9% from deep their last 3 games. The Blue Jays live and die by the 3 and they were nearly upset at Home by a St. John's team that just got boat-raced by Seton Hall. In 2 games against UConn last year Creighton went just 7/32 (21.9%) from deep.

UConn just has a plethora of great perimeter defenders. Freshman Stephon Castle has recently earned a full-time starting role and he's a long handsy guard at 6'6. Cam Spencer is 6'4 averaging 1.5 steals per game. He averaged 2 at Rutgers last year. Tristen Newton is another long guard at 6'5 averaging 1.3 steals per game. The defensive intensity continued off the bench at the guard spot with Freshman Soloman Ball and Senior Hassan Diara. They average .5 and .6 steals per game on limited minutes. The ability to get quality minutes off the bench is going to be huge for UConn. Creighton ranks amongst the bottom 20 schools in bench minutes per game.

Even with the Donovan Clingan injury Dan Hurley's bunch has rotated 8 players. Clingan may also be back in a limited capacity here tonight. With or without him we like UConn and even if he does play, he likely won't play too much. But he did look good in warmups before Georgetown and was given a 50/50 shot at suiting up today. I'm sure he's itching to play, especially against Creighton, and as the newly ranked #1 team. He's just a bonus as UConn has fully adjusted to life without him. Ultimately this UConn team is simply more talented, deeper, and better coached. The Pavilion will be rocking, and Creighton's had a bit more success against the Huskies in years past than they would like. Trust them to come out with a purpose tonight and desire to run them off their home floor.


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