The betting odds for tonight’s college basketball action are here, and one game, in particular, interests me as worth investing in: Marquette vs. Creighton.
Now, I think that Creighton will win handily, but I want to attack this game in a fun way, besides just betting the spread, so let’s invest in three different player props for this game.
Marquette Golden Eagles vs. Creighton Bluejays
Tuesday, February 21, 2023 – 08:30 PM EST at CHI Health Center Omaha
Marquette’s Interior Defense
Marquette lacks the personnel, specifically the defensive quality at the center position, to contain opposing centers – at least without some help.
Marquette’s centers are 6-9, 215-pounder Oso Ighodaro and 6-11, 220-pounder Ben Gold. The former is a sophomore and the latter a freshman. Both of these players lack the size and strength that the positional group with the best size and strength – that is, centers – is built to exploit.
Given Marquette’s personnel at the center position, it should be easy for the opposing center to score inside.
Now, we haven’t established yet that Ryan Kalkbrenner will have a high-scoring game. We can only feel confident at this point that he will have a meaningful game, one in which he stresses Marquette’s poorly sized defense.
There are two ways in which Marquette can try to alleviate its stress by limiting Kalkbrenner’s impact on the game:
- Marquette can guard him normally, allowing him to use his size and strength inside to score by himself.
- Marquette can send extra help inside, forcing Kalkbrenner to give the ball up to a teammate.
If the Golden Eagles elect the former strategy, then Kalkbrenner should score a lot of points. If they elect the latter strategy, then the “over” on Kalkbrenner’s point total will be a sucker bet that looks easy but doesn’t hit.
While the Big East isn’t raging with high-scoring centers, we do have a sufficient data sample with which to assess Marquette’s tendencies in dealing with opposing centers.
The Big East’s top-scoring center is Joel Soriano. At 6-11, 260 pounds, Soriano is a menace inside. He is an efficient scorer who will also attack the offensive glass to secure second-chance scoring opportunities.
Given his physical skillset, he averages 15.4 points per game. Tellingly, he blew past his scoring average when he faced Marquette. Against the Golden Eagles, he scored 22 points.
In a similar vein, Marquette has also had to deal with UConn center Donovan Clingan. When facing Marquette, Clingan scored 20 points – he has only scored 20+ on one other occasion this season, against 3-24 LIU, one of the worst teams in college basketball.
At 7-2, 265 pounds, Clingan represents a great example of what somebody with high-level size and strength is able to do to the UConn defense.
Kalkbrenner’s Scoring Total
Ryan Kalkbrenner is the Big East’s second-best scoring center, as measured by points per game. At 7-1, 260 pounds, he has the size and strength with which to overwhelm Marquette’s defense.
Based on the performance of other centers, big and strong centers evidently are able to achieve strong scoring outputs against the Golden Eagles.
Kalkbrenner is an efficient scoring option inside who will thrive against Marquette’s defense.
NCAAB Pick: Kalkbrenner Over 14.5 Points (-130) at Bet365
Statistically, Marquette does a poor job of limiting opposing three-point attempts and of limiting opposing three-point efficiency.
Part of Marquette’s problem is a lack of length.
In any case, Creighton has the personnel to take advantage of a Golden Eagles defense that will already be overwhelmed inside while accounting for Kalkbrenner.
The Bluejays player who I believe will thrive the most from behind the arc is shooting guard Trey Alexander, whose outlook is particularly positive tonight because he is so good at home.
In his most recent home games, he shot 2-of-3 from deep against UConn, 5-of-9 from deep against Villanova, and he made multiple threes in five of his previous six home games before his games against UConn and Nova.
NCAAB Pick: Alexander Over 1.5 Threes Made at (-130) at Bet365
The Bluejays defense will thrive tonight with Kalkbrenner bringing his usual elite rim protection.
Kalkbrenner, with his uniquely high block rate, encourages Bluejays defenders to guard the three-point line more aggressively in order to prevent three-point attempts.
Whether Marquette deals with Kalkbrenner inside or tries to attempt threes, made shots will be hard to come by, and Creighton will amass defensive rebounding opportunities.
The top defensive rebounder by percentage on Creighton is forward Baylor Scheierman, a long and versatile forward who is great at securing defensive rebounds.
For your final pick, expect him to have a lot of defensive rebounds tonight.
NCAAB Pick: Scheierman Over 6.5 Rebounds (-130) at Bet365