#6 Villanova Wildcats (22-2) vs. #18 Creighton Bluejays (20-4)
When: Sunday, February 15, 2014, 5 p.m.
Where: CenturyLink Center, Omaha, NE
Coverage: Fox Sports 1
Result of Previous Meeting: Creighton won 96-68 at Villanova on January 20
Key Players for Creighton: #3 Doug McDermott (6-8, 225) Sr., F; #34 Ethan Wragge (6-7, 225) Sr., F; #1 Austin Chatman (6-0, 180) Jr., G
Scouting Report: Since Creighton left the Wells Fargo Center with the game of their lives, they went on a four game win streak until St. John’s halted them at home. Two time All-American Doug McDermott has continued to do what he does best, score. He is currently the highest scorer in all of Division I, leading active players with well over 2,800 points, and counting. Twenty, thirty point nights are the norm if you are Doug McDermott. In fact, he has scored 20 or more points in 20 of the 24 games that Creighton has played. In eight of those, he put up at least 30 points. Recently, he has shown how clutch he could be, sinking the winning three pointer the first time against St. John’s and then the dagger to seal the game against Butler a few nights ago. He averages 25.3 points per game and 7 boards per game. So far this season he is shooting 50.2% overall on the floor and 43.4% from long range. He is automatic from the free throw line, shooting just a tad below 90% from the line. McDermott’s scoring abilities and high basketball IQ have a number of NBA scouts knocking at his door, but not so much for his play on the other side of the court. On defense, he is decent, but nowhere near as good as he is offensively. He lacks true quickness in order to be a disruptive force on defense. When it comes to Creighton, McDermott is the first name that comes to mind, however there are four other players taking the court alongside him. Anyone who wasn’t familiar with Creighton, learns real fast that it isn’t the Creighton McDermotts, rather the Creighton Bluejays. Ethan Wragge is the second highest scorer on the team. He is the only other person on the team that averages double digits with 11.9 points per game and is shooting 48.2% from three point range. Wragge lives and dies by the three, he loves to wait on the perimeter and take the shot. So far this season only six shot attempts by Wragge have not been a three pointer. Wragge rose to fame for his record setting night against Villanova in which he made 9 three pointers. Austin Chatman is listed as a key player, but the honest truth is that anyone on the Blue Jay squad can take this third spot. Aside from McDermott and Wragge, anyone can step up and have a helpful night. They have a deep squad and like to rotate and distribute playing time. Chatman is the facilitator of the Bluejay offense. He has been playing well in a recent stretch of games. Keep an eye out also for Devin Brooks and Jahenns Manigat, they are both capable of getting on a roll and chipping in a ten point night off the bench. It may only be a ten point night for them, but it has been shown that those ten points can go a long way. Brooks is the third highest scorer on the team and is a solid contributor in his role off the bench. Will Artino is a key role player off of the bench, he provides size for a team that needs it. Artino is coming off of a double-double performance against Butler, where he had 11 points and 10 rebounds. As a team, they like to move the ball around and spread it across the floor. They’re very patient on offense and will take the time needed to set up a good shot.
Outlook: Villanova is regarded as a close underdog to Creighton. I can see Villanova winning this one, just as much as I see them losing. Why would they lose? Creighton hasn’t lost at home since last year, and play very well at home. Sure, Marquette had that great streak at home until the Wildcats broke that streak, but Marquette is not as good as Creighton. This highly anticipated game will surely bring a packed audience tomorrow. In college basketball, home court advantage is a big deal. I guarantee that shooting performance from the first meeting will not repeat itself in this game. That once-in-a-lifetime performance, is not happening again. The Wildcats will surely learn from last time. St. John’s revealed a strategy that worked. Let McDermott have his, but take away all of his supplementary pieces. Creighton knows that we’re definitely going to be watching the film from that game. On defense, Villanova has to stay on their assignments at all times. Creighton is very patient and will pass the ball around until they find the missed assignment and take the high percentage shot. The second there is a slip up, Creighton will captialize on it. Round two will definitely be a lot closer, St. John’s left a blueprint that teams will emulate.
Go Nova, beat Creighton!