The No. 6 Creighton Bluejays advanced to the second round with a win over NC State, where they will face the No. 3 Baylor Bears at Ball Arena. The game will air on TBS at 7:10 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 19. Baylor enters as a one-point favorite.
No. 6 Creighton (22-12, 14-6 Big East)
First round result: Defeated NC State, 72-63
KenPom rating: 13 Overall, 27 Offense, 15 Defense
NET ranking: 17, (3-8 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Ryan Kalkbrenner, 15.4 ppg
Key stat: 28.7 defensive rebounds per game (5th in the nation)
The Creighton Bluejays’ Ryan Kalkbrenner had a career-defining game against NC State, adding 31 points in the win. The Wolfpack stayed in it for most of the game, but a dagger three from Baylor Scheierman put the final nail in their coffin. The Bluejays struggled from the three, but with Kalkbrenner down low for the put-back shots, it didn’t really matter. They may need to diversify their shot options if they hope to continue a run into the tournament.
No. 3 Baylor (23-10, 11-7)
First round result: Defeated UCSB, 74-56
KenPom rating: 15 Overall, 2 Offense, 104 Defense
NET ranking: 15, (11-10 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Keyonte George, 15.8 ppg
Key stat: 37.2% from the three-point line (36th in the nation)
Baylor overcame UCSB despite a strong offensive effort from the Gauchos. They couldn’t quite match the Bears’ 54.9% rate from the field. Baylor showcased their depth in this one, with Caleb Lohner coming off the bench for 13 points and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua grabbing a team-leading nine rebounds despite not starting.
Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
Point spread: Baylor -1
Point total: 145.5
Moneyline: Baylor -115, Creighton -105
Against The Spread Pick: Creighton +1
Point total pick: Under 145.5
Pick to Win: Creighton -105
It will be hard to defend Ryan Kalkbrenner, particularly for a Baylor team whose defense is not its strong suit. The Bluejays will be better-matched to defend the Bears than vice versa, so I’m going with Creighton in a close one.