With plenty of upsets through the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament a number of brackets have already been busted. The preseason favorite and No. 1 overall seed, however, remains on track to become the first undefeated national champion in 45 years. The next step for the Gonzaga Bulldogs is a Sweet 16 matchup with the Creighton Bluejays on Saturday. The Zags have won 25 straight games by double digits and the winning streak reached 32 with a second round pasting of Oklahoma. Gonzaga is laying 13-points on the opening college hoops line.
This NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 matchup will air live on CBS at 2:10 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 28, 2021 from Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN.
Creighton Bluejays vs Gonzaga Bulldogs Odds
Spread: Creighton Bluejays +13 | Gonzaga Bulldogs -13
Money Line: Creighton Bluejays +734 | Gonzaga Bulldogs -1064
Creighton had a much easier time in the second round knocking off Ohio University 72-58 to earn the payout and advance to the second weekend for the first time in 47 years. The Bluejays escaped with a first round 63-62 win over UC Santa Barbara on a pair of late free throws that followed a blowout 73-48 loss to Georgetown in the Big East championship. They are in an unfamiliar role as an underdog after catching points in just three games this season. The Bluejays were dogs in both conference games against Villanova splitting them SU and ATS. They also got 3.5-points in a matchup with Kansas in December covering the line in a 73-72 setback. Creighton finished the regular season losing two of three games going 1-2 ATS and is currently 22-8 SU and 14-16 ATS. They’ve held opponents to an average of 61 points in five postseason games with the UNDER going 4-1. They’ll need to play defense against the nation’s top scoring team.
Getting to the Sweet 16 hasn’t been a problem for the Bulldogs. They reached the second weekend for the sixth straight time. The ultimate goal of winning a national championship has been elusive. It will be interesting to see if the team starts to feel the pressure. They haven’t so far steamrolling their way through the first two rounds with payout wins as a 33-point favorite against Norfolk State and a 15.5-point fave over Oklahoma. The Zags have dominated teams all season winning their last 25 games by at least 10 points. The argument has been made about their strength of schedule, but the Zags beat ranked Kansas, West Virginia and Iowa in the early part of the season going 2-1 ATS. The 87-82 win over the Mountaineers on Dec. 2 is the closest game they played all season.
There is no pressure on the Bluejays, which should bode well for their chances of pulling off the upset. And once they got past the pesky Gauchos in the first round they seemed to gain some confidence and play more like Creighton. They certainly aren’t going to be in awe of the top ranked team and No. 1 overall seed. The Bluejays had stiff competition in the rugged Big East going 14-6. And they seemed to regain their focus against Ohio after getting blown out in the Big East final and squeaking past UCSB.
All five starters played at least 32 minutes and scored double figures against the Bobcats led by Marcus Zegarowski’s 20 points. They held Ohio to 31.8 percent shooting and forced 14 turnovers in the payout win. Unless they get more support from reserves, I don’t see the Bluejays pulling off what would be a monumental upset.
The Zags are simply on another planet and the only thing that will derail their national championship freight train is themselves. And they know what’s at stake, which makes their run even more likely. “You gotta bring that fire because all it takes is one good game (by the opponent) and you can be out,” Drew Timme said. Gonzaga had a close call in the West Coast Conference tournament getting past BYU 88-78. When a 10-point victory is a close call you know the team is pretty damn good.
While the offense gets plenty of well deserved attention, the Zags defense has been just as good. I guess that’s why they haven’t lost in their last 32 games. Four players score in double figures and all of them are money from the field hitting half their shots. Corey Kispert paces the attack averaging 19.2 points on 54.5 percent shooting and 45.8 percent from three-point range. Timme adds 18.8 points and 7.3 rebounds. The Zags are deep and they have too much talent for the Bluejays to contend with.
Creighton vs. Gonzaga Prediction
Our staff’s best bet: Gonzaga -13 and OVER 158
The Zags are focused and they are clearly the best team in this matchup and in the Tournament. The only way they lose is if they hurt themselves and they are too good to do that. Even if one guy has an off night five others are there to pick him up. Jalen Suggs might be a top NBA draft pick and he isn’t even the best player on the team. Ah, the beauty of depth. Gonzaga has it and Creighton doesn’t.