Tuesday College Basketball Best Bets: Creighton-Arkansas Shines In Maui

Written By Eli Hershkovich on November 22, 2022
College Basketball Best Bets

Another loaded college basketball odds board continues during Feast Week, especially in the 2022 Maui Jim Maui Invitational. The headliner is No. 9 Arkansas against No. 10 Creighton, so let’s break down whether there is any value to be had for my college basketball best bets.

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Arkansas vs. Creighton: Spread, Moneyline, Total

While both programs aren’t as high in my college basketball power rankings as they are in the latest AP Top 25 poll, this game presents plenty of fascinating angles. Subscribe to the Outside Shots podcast, as Scott Phillips and I dig into all of the upcoming holiday action.

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Will Razorbacks Undergo Defensive Regression?

No one’s debating that Arkansas possesses one of the premier defenses in the country under Eric Musselman. But the Hogs’ pressure defense is also yielding an unsustainable 24.9% 3-point clip over their first five games.

Moreover, they rank No. 258 across Division I in regards to open perimeter looks allowed (via ShotQuality). Unfortunately, the Bluejays are the perfect opponent to take advantage of their biggest liability at that end of the court.

Greg McDermott’s team generates the 98th-highest 3-point scoring rate to date — paced by North Dakota State transfer Baylor Scheierman. In order to comfortably manufacture shots from distance, though, Creighton must avoid the turnover bug.

Texas Tech notched tallied 13 first-half takeaways against the Bluejays on Monday. However, McDermott’s hyper-explosive offense subsequently regained its composure during the final frame — en route to zero miscues. Scheirerman’s prowess on the glass, which led to his playmaking in transition, was a key factor.

Whether or not Creighton can deliver a similar performance against Anthony Black, Ricky Council IV and the rest of the Razorbacks’ ballhawks will go a long way in determining if its offense will have success. Last season, Ryan Nembhard & Co. produced a bottom-70 turnover rate.

Should the Bluejays struggle in that department once again, the Hogs will have a field day in transition. That coincides with how you exploit McDermott’s defense, too.

Related: 2023 March Madness Futures Odds

Creighton’s Unappreciated Interior Setup

When Arkansas is forced to rely on its half-court offense, it revolves around dribble penetration. Nevertheless, the Bluejays boast an elite rim protector in Ryan Kalkbrenner, who accrued a top-45 block rate in 2021-22. Collectively, they rank No. 78 in opponent’s ShotQuality efficiency at the rim.

Granted, Kalkbrenner could miss this contest with an ankle injury. Be sure to monitor his status throughout the day.

Musselman’s backcourt isn’t adept at spacing the floor, notching a 30.0% 3-point clip overall. Even with the “softer” Maui rims, the Razorbacks’ unit, which lacks camaraderie, could become tense if it’s forced to rely on outside shots.

Mind you, Nick Smith — another one of the Hogs’ five-star freshmen — will likely miss this game with a knee injury. It’s kept him sidelined since the beginning of the campaign.

College Basketball Best Bets Conclusion

Unless I wind up live betting, which you can monitor in our aforementioned Discord betting channel, my numbers don’t reveal enough pregame value for Arkansas-Creighton. Join the discussion, as fellow bettors dive into everything college basketball.

For reference, the Bluejays opened as a 2.5-point underdog at most shops, yet they’re now favored across the board.

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