Creighton’s Marcus Zegarowski (11) celebrates after scoring during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Seton Hall in Omaha, Neb., Saturday, March 7, 2020. Creighton won 77-60. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
- Creighton and Seton Hall, last season’s Big East co-champions, meet on Wednesday in Omaha, Nebraska
- Creighton is riding a four-game winning streak; Seton Hall is 4-1 on the road
- Seton Hall forward Sandro Mamukelashvili is the Big East Player of the Week
Wednesday (9:00 pm ET) at CHI Health Center Omaha, Creighton hosts #7 Seton Hall, which has tied its highest national ranking in school history. The Bluejays hit that pinnacle in the final two ranking periods last March before the season was aborted prior to the NCAA tournament.
This game matches two of the hottest team in the Big East. The Hall, which had to replace career leading scorer Myles Powell and 2020 assists leader Quincy McKnight this season, has won seven of eight. Creighton has won four in a row and five of six. The Bluejays enter Wednesday as a three-point favorite.
Seton Hall Pirates vs Creighton Bluejays Odds
|Seton Hall||+135||+3 (-110)||151.5 (Over-115)|
|Creighton||-160||-3 (-110)||151.5 (Under-105)|
Odds from FanDuel taken January 5. Tip-off is Tuesday at 9pm ET
Mamukelashvili Back on Track
Six-foot-eleven forward Sandro Mamukelashvili has regained his form in the last two games, when he was named the Big East player of the week after going for 42 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists in victories over Xavier and Butler. He entered those games in a mini-slump, having gone 13 of 38 from the floor and 1 of 9 from three-point range.
Mamukelashvili, who is at least four inches taller than every Creighton starter, had 20 points and 18 rebounds in two losses to the up-tempo Blue Jays last season after he returning from a seven-week absence because of a fractured wrist suffered in December. He tied a season high with 12 rebounds in the second meeting against the Blue Jays on March 7, the final game for both.
He is averaging 18.7 points and 6.9 rebounds while filling the scoring hole left after Powell’s departure. He also has 41 assists, second on the team.
“I feel like I can come back and make a statement. I feel like I haven’t scratched the surface yet.” — Sandro Mamukelashvili, after pulling his name from the NBA draft last spring.
Shooting — From Near and Far — Could Be Decisive
Creighton, which thrives on the perimeter, ranks 25th in the NCAA in 3-point field goals attempts (276) and is averaging 10.1 per game while shooting 36.7 percent. Hall, which would rather attack the interior, is averaging 7.4 threes a game and shooting 34.9 percent from distance.
Blue Jays senior guard Mitch Ballock has made 260 career threes, fourth in school history, and has made at least one three in 16 straight games. Ballock had season highs with 26 points and eight threes in the Dec. 14 loss to Marquette and has 19 threes in his last five games.
Guard Myles Cale (21), Mamukelashvili (17) and Jared Rhoden (17) are Hall’s perimeter threats.
Closer to the basket, Seton Hall is shooting 74.3 percent from the foul line. Creighton is shooting 65.9 percent and was 9 of 18 in its 73-72 loss at then-No. 5 Kansas on Dec. 8.
.@BluejayMBB with miss Ty-Shon Alexander next year. He’s a nice player. But Greg McDermott’s starting 5 is still Top 10 worthy & my man, @Mitchbballin24, will no longer be one of the most underrated players in the country. Heard it here first.
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) April 21, 2020
Zegarowski Finding His Groove
Creighton junior point guard Marcus Zegarowski, the Big East preseason player of the year, leads the Creighton offense and does most of his scoring damage from outside. He made six 3-pointers and assisted on the game-winning basket in a 67-65 victory over Providence last Saturday.
Ed Cooley: “That’s the best (Zegarowski) has played against us.” 20 points, 6 threes, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
— Kevin McNamara (@KevinMcNamara33) January 2, 2021
Zegarowski has made at least three 3s in five games this season, although he also has had 0-for-7, 1-for-8 and 1-for-5 games from distance.
2021 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Odds Tracker
Playing them close
Creighton’s only losses this season have come at Kansas and 89-84 at home to Big East foe Marquette (a team the Hall beat 77-68 on the road) in a seven-day window beginning Dec. 8. Zegarowski was fouled while attempting a game-tying 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds remaining at Kansas but missed the last of his three free throw attempts.
The Blue Jays’ last three victories have come by five points or fewer, including two-point road wins at Connecticut (in overtime) and at Providence around a five-point home win against Xavier.
KenPom.com rates Creighton 10th in offensive efficiency this season but ranks Seton Hall’s as schedule more challenging. The Pirates played non-conference games against Louisville, Rhode Island, Oregon and Penn State, losing three of them.
The pick: Seton Hall +3 (-110)
Jack has covered college and professional sports for various Arizona media outlets and has written for the AP, USA Today and Baseball America, among others. He staffed the 2015-17 World Series and has staffed four Super Bowls.