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Courtside Players Club (2/20/24)

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(3 Picks)

8:00PM EST: UConn -3 (3 Units), UCONN/CRE Under 144.5 (3 Units), Ryan Kalkbrenner Under 17.5 Points (2 Units).

UConn's the class of the Big East. They're fresh off a blowout of Marquette, the 2nd best team in the Conference. Both Marquette and Creighton were pegged to make runs this year, but they haven't retooled as well as UConn. Creighton's really missing Ryan Nembhard's ability to create when playing elite defense. Creighton managed just 48 points @ UConn earlier this year and that was a game Donovan Clingan was limited in. Clingan's full go and he's just better than Creighton Center Ryan Kalkbrenner. Kalkbrenner has the length, but he lacks strength and power and struggles against the Elite Bigs. Creighton's losses are directly linked to games in which Kalkbrenner struggles. In 5 career games as a starter against UConn, Kalkbrenner's scored 22, 4, 12, 9, and 11 points. Averaging 11.6 points and just 6.8 rebounds per game in those contests.

Perimeter shooting becomes even more important for Creighton than it already is in games against elite interior defense. UConn's also great on the edge, ranking 34th in opponent 3-PT Rate and holding teams to 31.5% from 3. All in all, UConn's 11th in Adj D and Donovan Clingan's missed time and been limited much of this season. He's just their most important defensive piece.

Offensively UConn matches up just fine. They're red hot from deep, shooting 42.3% over their last 3. They rank 42nd in 3-PT% on the season. Creighton runs teams off the 3-PT line more than any other Power 6 team. They look to funnel you inside and force midrange shots over Kalkbrenner. UConn's 4th in PPP on Midrange shots but they're also 4th in PPP in P&R Ball Screens. Kalkbrenner can usually cheat ball side in those situations because of his tremendous length but UConn will apply more pressure there. Clingan will be slipping in behind who's taller than Kalkbrenner to begin with, but his back-up Samson Johnson is an alley-oop machine courtesy of his bunny hops at 6'10. The way they funnel teams inside also forces their defense into help situations which can leave shooters open on the perimeter. UConn's 5th in PPP in Catch and Shoot 3-PT scenarios and end 23% of their possessions that way.

The Tempo of this game will be slow. These two have cashed the Under in 6 straight meetings and both of them move slowly. UConn's 327th and Creighton's 221st in Adjusted Tempo. Creighton really sells out to get back on defense which is why they're just 269th in offensive rebounding %. UConn's the 5th best rebounding team in the Country and despite playing on the road they'll be able to dictate the flow of this game.


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