BE&B Predictions: February 19

– Posted by Zurg –

More games in the Big East tonight! DePaul travels to Xavier, and Marquette hosts Creighton.

Are upsets in the realm of possibility?

DePaul at Xavier, 7:00pm EST, Cintas Center, Cincinnati, OH

Xavier (AP: NR, KenPom: 41, BPI: 44) is yet another Big East team trying to make its case for an NCAA Tournament bid. Tonight, the Musketeers must get through DePaul (AP: NR, KenPom: 162, BPI: 154) to keep its ship from sinking.

Chris Mack’s team sits at 17-8 (7-5), tied for third with Marquette (7-5) and St. John’s (8-6) 3.5 games behind Creighton and Villanova, in need of a win to bounce back from a loss at Marquette.

Xavier has the 3rd most efficient offense in the conference. Its strong frontcourt pulls down the second highest percentage of Offensive Rebounds and has the 3rd best 2P% in the Big East. Defensively, Xavier has the best 2P% in the conference.

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DePaul, on the other hand, struggles. The Blue Demons have the 3rd best Offensive Rebound Percentage and Free Throw Rate (rate at which they get to the line and make their free throws) in the conference, but they have the 2nd least efficient offense and the least efficient defense.

This should be a relatively easy victory for Xavier. The Big East needs them to finish strong to keep hopes alive of 5+ NCAA Tournament bids.

Xavier 79, DePaul 59

 

Creighton at Marquette, 8:00pm EST, BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

Greg McDermott’s Bluejays (AP: 11, KenPom: 4, BPI: 11) travel to Milwaukee to take on Buzz Williams’ Golden Eagles (AP: NR, KenPom: 50, BPI: 60). Creighton is coming off a 101-80 home victory over Villanova, while Marquette rides a 3-game winning streak with its most recent coming at home against Xavier.

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Creighton has one of the most efficient offenses of the past decade (According to kenpom.com, no team has finished with an adjusted Offensive Rating above 124 dating back to 2003 when the website was created). However, Duke has the country’s most efficient offense so far this season, so both teams are on pace to make history.

Despite a disappointing start to the season, Marquette has kept itself relevant with its defense. While its offensive effective Field Goal Percentage ranks 224th nationally, its defense eFG% ranks in the top 100. Will Marquette’s defense be able to handle Creighton, though? Creighton’s offensive eFG% is the best in the country.

The Golden Eagles will need defense to keep them in the game (since their 317th rated 3P% likely isn’t going to!) – and I am not sure there are many teams in the country that can rely on defense when they are playing Creighton.

I expect Creighton to win this one on the road, but a Marquette victory would be huge to continue its momentum and to strengthen its résumé.

Creighton 73, Marquette 64

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