The Creighton Blue Jays knocked off the pesky Xavier Musketeers on Friday night in the second semi-final game from Madison Square Garden. Following on the heels of a Villanova/Seton Hall game that came down to the final possession, the undercard did not disappoint. With 32 seconds remaining in the game, Trevon Bluiett hit a deep three to tie the game up at 72. However, while Xavier fans leapt from their seats to celebrate, Creighton got the ball to Marcus Foster who nailed a triple to take the lead before Xavier even knew what happened. On the final possession, a JP Macura trey clanged off the front of the rim and booked Creighton a date with Villanova on Saturday night.
Quick turnaround aside, we bring you three things to watch for as the 'Cats look to start March off with some new hardware.
Bombs Away Blue Jays
Creighton put up 20 three-point shots on Friday night and nailed 13 of them at a 65% clip. Now, these weren't just three-pointers; half of them were absolute moon-balls shot from deeeeep in the corners. The Jays shoot almost 40% from three as a team and have the ability to pull up on a dime and hit from anywhere on the court. If 'Nova comes out cold, and Creighton heats up from deep, this one could have shades of McBuckets.
Justin Patton is a Problem
Villanova has faced freshman phenom Justin Patton twice this year with mixed results. While Creighton took the L in both games, game one saw Patton drop 18 points on 9-12 shooting and grab 8 boards. However, game two saw Patton only take 3 shots and finish with 4 points and 6 turnovers. The 'Cats were able to effectively contain Patton once this year and will be looking to Reynolds, Paschall, and (occasionally) Painter to contain the big guy again. Patton is a physical freak; despite being 6'11 with a 7'0 wingspan, he runs the floor like a point guard, he shoots threes, and he's got the agility to make guys miss down low. Finishing with 21 against Xavier, he's a handful and, considering Creighton's ability to shoot from deep, Villanova may need to pick their poison if things get tight.
Can Villanova play worse?
Maybe. I guess it's possible. But it's hard to imagine the 'Cats being held to 20 first half points on 23% shooting on Saturday night. Shots started falling towards the end of Friday's game, and the defensive effort was there, so it's fair to be optimistic that 'Nova has righted the ship. The Wildcats are 2-0 against Creighton this year, winning by a combined 26 points. In games against the Blue Jays this year, Villanova is shooting 52% from the field. My gut tells me the 'Cats started hot, went cold, and will wrap up the tournament with a performance more in line with how they've played all season. We shall see if it's enough to topple the Blue Jays for the third time this season.