Matchup: #18 Oklahoma Sooners at Creighton Bluejays
Date/Time: November 19, 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: FOX Sports 1
Spread: Oklahoma -2
The Creighton Bluejays are a much different team than they were last year. Regardless, this would still be a big road win for the #18 Oklahoma Sooners if they are able to pull a slight upset on the road. The Bluejays are still the same team from a philosophical standpoint, firing up jump shots at will, but most of their production is gone from last season and that makes them a bit of a wild card early on this season. Oklahoma, meanwhile, has seven upperclassmen and a large group of sophomores that returned from last season’s team that was a #5 seed in the field of 68. This is a big early season game for both teams, as the Bluejays are a slight home underdog.
The Oklahoma Sooners bobbed and weaved their way to a 12-6 record in the very competitive Big 12 conference last season and managed to beat Iowa State and Baylor during the regular season. Baylor bounced the Sooners in the first round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament and that disappointment carried over into March Madness as the Sooners fell victim to a strong #12 seed in North Dakota State. That experience should help the Sooners this season. They averaged 78 points per game last year, despite shooting just 39 percent from the floor and less than 65 percent from the free throw line.
Buddy Hield, last season’s leading scorer, scored 25 points to lead the Sooners in their easy 78-53 win over Southeast Louisiana in their season opener. With last season’s second-most potent scorer, Cameron Clark, gone, junior Isaiah Cousins is expected to take a step forward. He started the season on a great note with 14 points and 10 boards. Jordan Woodard had seven assists and four steals, but struggled from the floor making just one of six shots. This is a much stiffer test for the Sooners and a game that could easily see a lot of points on the scoreboard.
Creighton’s rampage through the Big East Conference yielded a #3 seed in the field of 68 and the Bluejays had no problem with Louisiana-Lafayette before losing to Baylor by 30 in the round of 32. The way the season ended had to rub some players the wrong way, but the roster turnover at Creighton will present a big problem. Doug McDermott is gone, taking his 26.7 points per game with him to the NBA. McDermott was also the team’s best rebounder. Six-foot-seven forward Ethan Wragge, the team’s second-leading scorer, also moved on in his playing career. Little bit of everything guard Grant Gibbs is also gone. The Bluejays lost three of their top four scorers and four of their five starters.
Will Artino projects to be a key player for Creighton this season. He made 79 of his 118 field goals last season and leads the Bluejays with 17 points and nine rebounds per game. The Bluejays are averaging 94 points per game, but their wins are over Central Arkansas and Chicago State. Things certainly take a big step up against Oklahoma. The Bluejays are also getting some contributions from Isaiah Zierden, who is 7-of-14 from beyond the arc so far this season.
Free College Basketball Picks: Oklahoma Sooners
This is definitely a step up in class for a Creighton team that lost the majority of its production from last season. The Sooners play a style of basketball that Creighton will be comfortable with, but this is a big early season test against a veteran team that takes pretty good care of the basketball and rebounds pretty well. Creighton may be inflated off of their perception from last season, even though their losses are very significant.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.