March Madness Picks -- Vols know not to sleep on this Creighton squad

  • In Charles Jay
  • Fri, Mar 29th, 2024 8:43:29 am
  • By Charles Jay - Exclusive to OSGA

The Creighton Bluejays will bring a balanced attack into the Sweet Sixteen as they oppose the Tennessee Volunteers in Detroit.

The Tennessee Volunteers have seen so many good teams this season that they aren't likely to be shocked by anything. Still, they have a challenge awaiting them when they see one of three teams that made it to the Sweet Sixteen from the Big East.

Some BetOnline patrons may have been surprised that the Big East got only those three bids. But they can play some ball; the defending champion UConn Huskies play in that conference, as do the Creighton Bluejays, who are going to be a handful to deal with in this 10:09 PM ET tip-off at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

Tennessee was in tough last time out, as coach Rick Barnes faced Texas, the school where he formerly had the coaching reins. Dalton Knecht, who has rapidly become the star of this crew, had 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the way. Knecht, who transferred over from Northern Colorado, has thirteen double-doubles on his ledger, and has shot 39% from three-point range.

Zakai Zeigler, a 5-9 fireplug from Long Island, made a really nice comeback from injury this season and wound up leading the SEC in Assist Rate. in his last ten games, he's had an assist-turnover ratio of 3-to-1. the experienced "glue" guy is Josiah-Jordan James, who is a fifth year senior. If Barnes could get some better shooting out of one of last year's stars, Santiago Vescovi (just 32% from the arc), that would be a big bonus for the Vols.

In the NCAA Tournament odds at BetOnline that we will use to determine our March Madness picks for this game, the Volunteers are a favorite:

Tennessee Volunteers -3
Creighton Bluejays +3

Over 144 points -110
Under 144 points -110

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It took Creighton two overtimes, but they ran and hid from Oregon 86-73 last time out. They got 19 points and 14 rebounds from big man Ryan Kalkbrenner, with 21 points coming from Steven Ashworth. The Bluejays had to overcome 28 points and 20 rebounds form Oregon's dynamic N'Faly Dante.

There are more players in the lineup who can take control of a game. Aside from Ashworth, who transferred form Utah, and Kalkbrenner, who has averaged three blocks a game, they can turn to Baylor Scheierman, who is one of the more versatile players in the Big East. Scheierman transferred from South Dakota State, where he was the Summit League Player of the Year, and he does fill up a stat sheet, with 18.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg and 4 apg. he is shooting 38% from three-point territory.

Trey Alexander (17.6 points, 4.7 assists per game) is also an impact player from his point guard spot. And every once in a while, coach Greg McDermott can reach out for a guy on his bench like freshman Jasen Green, who had SIX offensive rebounds against Oregon.

Tennessee has played some of the best teams in the country, but don't fool yourself into thinking Creighton is untested. They have beaten Alabama, and have a 19-point win over UConn, a 14-point victory over Marquette and a 29-point romp over Nebraska on their resume. They are more than equal to the task of winning this game and moving on.

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