The Friars are off to a 3-1 start in Big East play and now have an opportunity to get their first signature win of the season. The #11 Creighton Blue Jays (7-2, 3-1 BE) come to town for a noon tip that will be aired nationally on Fox. The Blue Jays are led by preseason Big East POY Marcus Zegarowski and have a team that returned five of their six leading scorers from last season. Let’s take a look at some themes for this one.
What Marcus Zegarowski Will We See?
Despite being named as the Big East POY in the preseason the junior guard is off to a bit of a slow start. He is averaging 13.8 ppg in the teams first 9 games and has seen his shooting both from the floor and from 3 down from a season ago. Friar fans will remember Zegarowski last season in the game in Omaha where Marcus was battling an illness but still managed 8 points with none more important than his dagger three he hit to lead the Jays to the comeback win. In the return game from the Dunk he had a pretty forgettable game scoring 3 points on 1/10 from the floor but did tally 7 assists. He should have a plus matchup if the Friars put Bynum on him but expect Cooley to mix it up a bit with Duke on their star player.
Who is Going to Stop Duke/Watson?
Creighton has really never been known as a good defensive team although this season they are off to a better start, ranking 40th in KenPom’s defensive efficiency. Despite the better ranking I don’t see anyone on their roster that can slow down David Duke and Nate Watson. The duo is averaging 38.9 ppg and I really don’t see Creighton having the players to matchup with those guys and look for Cooley to lean on his stars in this one.
Perimeter Defense Critical for Friars
Typically the Friars matchup well against Creighton because they can limit the Blue Jays weapon, the three point shot. This year the Friars have been pretty average defending the three (33.5% for opposition). When you do the eye test Friars are pretty fortunate to being giving up that clip because we have seen them give up some wide open looks. Creighton on the other hand ranks 19th in the nation in 3-pointers made (91) and it continues to be their biggest weapon. The Friars want to keep the Jays in the 70s and to do that they must defend the 3.
Going into the season I have been hell bent on the take that Creighton isn’t nearly as good as their ranking due to the loss of Ty-Shon Alexander so no going back now. The loss of Alexander not only hurts there defense but hurts a guy like Mitch Ballock who now has more attention drawn to him. The way Watson/Duke are rolling right now it is hard to pick against them. If the Friars make this a physical game there is no reason why they can’t get the upset.
PC 78 Creighton 74