Bradley Braves vs. Creighton Bluejays Preview and Pick

Bradley Braves (17-14), PK, o/u vs. Creighton Bluejays (20-9), PK, o/u Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri, 3:35 p.m. Eastern, Friday
By the Oracle of Predictem.com

Talk about revenge.

The Creighton Bluejays came up with a huge 111-110 double overtime victory on Saturday, making up for a crushing loss against Bradley just a couple weeks earlier that took the little hope they had at getting an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.

There’s good news for the Braves, though. They’ll get a chance to get re-revenge - that’s right, coin it now, re-revenge - when these same two squads hook up for the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament on Friday at a neutral site.

Creighton, who is the 4th seed, looks to repeat its success last year as they got into the field of 65 by winning the MVC tournament a season ago.

Being that these two teams were so evenly matched last game, many sportsbooks opened with a pick ’em line for bettors to choose.

They come into the tournament on a huge high from their double overtime win against the No. 5 seed Braves. In that contest, Cavel Witter doubled his career high with 42 points, including an astounding 32 of those after halftime. Witter hit four three-pointers and added four steals and seven assists on his career night.

That stat line from Witter became even more unexpected because he was held scoreless in Creighton’s loss to Bradley on Feb. 16th on 0-for-4 shooting in 16 minutes of play.

Meanwhile, Bradley was led by career-highs from guards Daniel Ruffin (30 points) and Jeremy Crouch (29 points) who also are the top two scorers for the Braves on the year. Ruffin was reinstated from a 1-game suspension before Saturday’s game. He was arrested in late February for a misdemeanor assault charge and suspended for his final home game.

Bradley is one of the most guard-heavy teams in the nation, as their top five scorers all come from the backcourt. The average height of those scorers is about 6-feet 2 -inches tall. There most significant big man is Matt Salley, who is just 6-7, averaging 23 minutes per game.

This has been a huge disadvantage for Bradley all year long, as they are just 211th in the nation by grabbing 9.5 offensive rebounds per game and 206th in rebounding margin (-1.2). But in both games against Creighton, Bradley didn’t have any troubles keeping up with the Bluejays on the boards, out rebounding them by a combined 15 in their two match ups.

A huge blow that came Bradley’s way in the already-tough loss to Creighton was the fact that third-leading scorer Andrew Warren left the game with a broken hand and is out indefinitely. Warren was steady in the backcourt, averaging 13.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, and is part of a Bradley team that is 22nd in the nation in free-throw percentage (74.8%), shooting 82% on the year.

Creighton relies on a very, very deep bench and a balanced offensive attack. The Bluejays have an astounding 10 players that average at least 12 minutes per game and have just two payer sin the double figures in scoring (P’Allen Stinnet 12.2; Dane Watts 11.4). Witter’s 42-point game raised his season average to 8.7 points per game, showing you that this may have been a one-time occasion for him.

Bradley is 10-2 ATS in their last 12 overall games and is 16-12-1 on the year. They’re also 6-1 ATS in their past seven games at a neutral site.

Bettors should know that Creighton also fairs well covering the spread when playing at a neutral site with a 5-1 mark. They are also 4-1 ATS in their last five Friday games, but are just 1-4 ATS in their last five MVC contests.

Bettors should also note that the favorite is 13-6-1 ATS in the last 20 head-to-head meetings between these two MVC rivals.

The over could be a trendy pick for bettors, as it has come in 8 straight times for Bradley as well as having 6-2-1 record in Creighton’s last 9 conference games. In the last 11 head-to-head meetings between these two squads, the over is 7-2-2.

Bradley is a little banged up after Saturday’s loss and Creighton has historically played well in the conference tournament, winning it all last year. It could be another shootout in the Missouri Valley.

Oracle’s Pick: Take Creighton and their well balanced attack to cover today.