Creighton has started off their first season in Big East play very successfully. They stand at 15-3 and 5-1 in the conference. The Bluejays are the 1st team in Big East history to win each of its first 5 games ever played in the conference. Coming into the season, Creighton was predicted to finished 3rd, while the Wildcats were chosen to finish 4th in the Big East Preseason Poll.
Villanova sits atop the Big East conference, while Creighton is a hair behind, placing themselves in second place. The Wildcats are the only team in the Big East without a conference loss. Creighton’s three losses have all come on the road this season.
Creighton saw its name pop up in the polls last week after rattling off 10 straight wins. The Bluejays lost to Providence on Saturday and have now dropped out of the top 25. Villanova is now ranked at #4 as they jumped Wichita State and Wisconsin in the most recent polls.
Villanova is 2-1 vs ranked opponents this season with wins against Kansas and Iowa, and their lone loss to Syracuse. Creighton, on the other hand, has yet to play a ranked opponent this season but their RPI is 14.
The game will be played at the Wells Fargo Center, where the Wildcats have been very successful in the past. This will be the first regular season game played there this season. Last year, Villanova beat three Top 5 ranked teams (Syracuse, Georgetown, and Louisville) at the "Center". Those wins were resume building wins that ended up getting them into the NCAA tournament. Villanova will look to win yet another key Big East game at the Wells Fargo Center against Creighton.
An interesting story out of Creighton before the season was that Doug McDermott gave up his scholarship so that Grant Gibbs can return as a sixth year senior. McDermott is now considered a "walk-on." Well, he just may be the best walk-on in college basketball history. Dougie "McBuckets" is averaging 25 points per game, while shooting 49% from the field and 43% from 3. He ranks 2nd in Division 1 in PPG behind Antoine Mason, who averages 28.3 points per game for the Niagara Purple Eagles.
Jay Wright had high praise for McDermott.
"I don’t think anybody has the impact on their team that he does," Wright said.
"I love his combination of skill and intelligence," Wright said. "It seems like he rarely takes a bad shot. And sometimes if he takes a tough shot it’s at a good time. It keeps the defense honest or it’s at the end of a shot clock."
NBA scouts also weighed there opinion on McDermott.
"I think he’s going to be a more of a Kyle Korver-type," the NBA scout said. "I think he’s going to be a terrific player, but that type.
Draft Express.com has McDermott projected as the 12th overall pick in the 2014 draft.
For Gibbs, he has been troubled by injury his whole career. He suffered a dislocated kneecap on January 7th against DePaul. He will be out 4-6 weeks and will miss the Big East showdown vs. Villanova on Monday night. Before the injury, Gibbs was averaging six points and four assists in 27 minutes of play. Gibbs doesn't put up huge numbers, but he is a huge part to what they do offensively.
Jahens Manigat, Creighton's senior guard has filled in very nicely since Gibbs went down. In Big East play he has a 27-4 assist/turnover ratio. In the three games without Gibbs, Manigat has 13 assists to just one turnover. He is a major reason Creighton leads the nation in assists per game at 19. Overall on the season, he is averaging eight points and three assists per game.
You can say the Bluejays have lived by the 3 so far this season. They have attempted 210 3's which is the most in college basketball. They shoot it at a clip of 42%, which also leads the nation. Lastly, 41% of the teams points come from behind the arch.
Creighton has improved their play from out of conference to Big East play. Opponents averaged 35 points in the first half of games in non-conference play. In Big East play, opponents are only averaging 29 points in the first half.
The Bluejays are rated the most efficient offense in the country.
This will be a great test for the Villanova defense, which Kenpom has ranked 7th in the country. Creighton runs their offense around McDermott, but if you decide to double team him, others on the team can beat you. If you decide not to double team him, he will beat you 1-on-1 from ANYWHERE on the court.
Fun Fact: Creighton's Ethan Wragge eclipsed 1,000 points in their loss to Providence. He is only the 37th player in Creighton's history to surpass that mark.
Villanova is 16-1 heading into this Top 25 showdown Monday night.
Daniel Ochefu has back to back double digit scoring games for the first time in his young career. Ochefu is 16-20 (80%) from the field in Big East play via @NovaMBB. He is really coming along well as of late.
Freshman Josh Hart has scored double digits in seven straight games. The energy he provides off the bench is a true game changer.
In Villanova's victory over DePaul on Saturday, the Cats had 21 assist to just five turnovers (4:1 ratio). They assisted on 21 of 31 made field goals. TEAM basketball.