Two of the best teams in the nation face off on Thursday night to highlight our December 1st college basketball slate! The Creighton Bluejays will head to Texas to go toe-to-toe with the Longhorns. A few other key matchups include the Seton Hall Pirates at Kansas Jayhawks and UCLA Bruins versus the Stanford Cardinal. Check out an in-depth analysis of each of these games below!
When: 7:00 PM EST
Creighton hasn’t exactly had an easy start to the season; it has already faced Texas Tech, Arkansas, and Arizona. The Bluejays were able to win two of those three games, and the loss against Arizona was merely by two points. In short, they are the real deal!
The Bluejays have been known over the years as a high-octane offensive program, specializing in three-point shooting, under head coach Greg McDermott. Not much has changed this season as they rank ninth in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric, and fifth in eFG% (effective field goal percentage.)
Creighton has plenty of shooters on the floor, including Baylor Scheierman, Ryan Nembhard, Trey Alexander, and Ryan Kalkbrenner. Even the one player in its starting lineup that isn’t shooting at least 42% from three-point range, Arthur Kaluma, is still a potential first-round talent!
What the Bluejays lack is depth. Only seven players average double-digit minutes, with one barely reaching that. Bench scoring and depth are real issues for this squad, and they need to avoid foul trouble and long defensive possessions that can tire out their players, to maximize their abilities.
Meanwhile, Texas looks every bit like a top-two team in the nation. It has Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter and Minnesota transfer Marcus Carr in the backcourt, two incredibly explosive scorers playing some of their best basketball at the collegiate level.
Standout New Mexico State transfer Sir’Jabari Rice joins Hunter and Carr as the third guard in the Longhorns’ starting lineup, while consensus five-star freshman Dillon Mitchell and former Vanderbilt transfer Dylan Disu round out the frontcourt.
Creighton is a great basketball team, and this should be a fun game, but in the end, there’s no way it can stop the Longhorns, who could be the best team in America at home. I will stick with Texas against the spread.
When: 9:00 PM EST
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Kansas has not done much to impress me, at least relative to the hype it had received throughout the preseason. Sure, Gradey Dick and Jalen Wilson are a big-time 1-2 punch on the offensive end, and yes, the Jayhawks rank 13th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, but I’m still not sold. Kansas beat Duke in its third game, but the Blue Devils are still so young and developing chemistry, as they are almost an entirely new team from last season. Duke only got 20 minutes from Dereck Lively II in that game, and Dariq Whitehead wasn’t back from his injury yet.
The fact is that Kansas has not been blowing out teams that it should be destroying; it beat Wisconsin by one point on a lucky, acrobatic put-back layup, NC State by six points, and Southern Utah by six points in three of its past five games. The recent game against Tennessee exploited the Jayhawks’ shortcomings, as they merely scored 50 points. To be fair, Tennessee has arguably the best defense in the nation, but 50 points from a team with all that talent is relatively low.
On the other hand, Seton Hall is 4-3 with losses to Oklahoma, Iowa, and Sienna; two are not bad losses, but a loss to Sienna is borderline horrendous. The Pirates are an upperclassmen-heavy squad and should not drop games like that, but I’m not putting too much emphasis on it. I’m much more concerned about Kansas letting teams stick around for most of the game before barely putting them away at the last second. I will stick with the Pirates plus the points in this one, despite it being a challenging road game in Allen Fieldhouse.
When: 10:30 PM EST
The Stanford Cardinal host the UCLA Bruins in an early-season Pac-12 showdown! The Cardinal are 3-4 with losses to Memphis, Wisconsin, Mississippi, and San Diego State; they have played a challenging schedule to start the season, which should be beneficial for them come March.
Now, Stanford will be tasked to try and handle the two-loss UCLA Bruins, a team that hasn’t quite found their stride in the 2022-23 season. UCLA’s two losses came against No. 6 Baylor and No. 16 Illinois, so it shouldn’t be criticized too harshly, though. The Bruins have five double-digit scorers, all of whom are guards: Jaime Jaquez Jr, Tyger Campbell, Amari Bailey, David Singleton, and Jaylen Clark.
Stanford could hang in this game against UCLA, one of the best offenses in the nation (eighth in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency), solely because of its superior size. The Cardinal have future pro Harrison Ingram (6-foot-7), Spencer Jones (6-foot-7), Michael Jones (6-foot-5), Brandon Angel (6-foot-8), Max Murrell (6-foot-9), James Keefe (6-foot-9), and Maxime Raynaud (7-foot-1) seeing most of the floor time for them.
This could be an issue for the guard-heavy Bruins, who rank 135th in total rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Stanford boasts a ranking of 21st in total rebounding percentage, a good indicator of its prowess on the glass. I love home dogs in college basketball, especially in conference play, and the Bruins haven’t given me the confidence to lay this many points with them on the road. They might win the game, but covering is a different story.
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