Busting Brackets

Creighton vs. UConn: 2021 Big East Semifinal game preview, TV schedule

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 12: The Creighton Bluejays huddle before the start of the first half against the St. John's Red Storm during the quarterfinals of the Big East Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 12: The Creighton Bluejays huddle before the start of the first half against the St. John's Red Storm during the quarterfinals of the Big East Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Creighton and UConn are two teams playing good basketball right now, facing each other with a spot in the finals of the Big East Tournament on the line.

TV schedule: Friday, March 12, 9:00 pm ET. FS1

Arena: Madison Square Garden in New York, NY

The Big East tournament continues tonight in an action-packed doubleheader at MSG. After the first game wraps up the Creighton Blue Jays and UCONN Huskies will take the court to battle for an opportunity to advance to this year’s Big East Conference Final. Both are riding high coming off blowout wins yesterday but that momentum will, unfortunately, have to come to an end for one of these teams in the semifinal.

Creighton dominated their quarterfinal matchup with Butler by a score of 87-56 after getting a first-round bye as a 2 seed. Leading the way was junior point guard Marcus Zegarowski with 18 points, 5 assists, and 4 boards. He’s been a huge key to their success this year averaging 15 points a game with a shooting average on the year of 44% from the field and 40% from 3.

Creightons won 9 of their last 12 games including yesterday’s quarterfinal and have beaten every team in the Big East at least once. They’re a hot-shooting team that went 63% from the field and 54% from 3 in the win against Butler. They’ll want to continue having that type of shooting performance if they want to beat UCONN for the third time this year.

Creighton is playing under the guidance of head coach Greg McDermott for the 11th year and will be heading to their 6th NCAA tournament with him this year. They ended the regular season with a record of 19-7 (14-6 Big East) thanks to the offensive firepower that they get from heat-up shooters like Zegarowski, Mahoney, Jefferson, and Ballock who all are averaging well over 30% from 3 this year.

Overall the Blue Jays right now are healthy and making their shots so as long as they can keep that up there’s no reason why they can’t beat UCONN today and then go on to win the Big East tomorrow.

Meanwhile, UCONN took care of business against upset-minded Depaul in yesterday’s quarterfinal. Depaul had a shocking upset win as an 11 seed over 6th seed Providence but the Huskies had no trouble winning by a score of 94-60. The committee of Sanogo, Martin, and Cole led the way all with 14 points each. Tyrese Martin got his 2nd double-double of the season, his first was also against Depaul back in December.

Connecticut finished 3rd in the Big East with a record of 14-6 (11-6 Big East) earning them a bye in the first round. They finished the season on a nice streak winning 7 of their last 8 including the win over Depaul yesterday. They’ve been favored by some to make a run in this Big East tournament but there are also people that even have them as a dark horse to steal some games in the NCAA tourney as a projected 9 seed.

Dan Hurley is in his 3rd year as head coach with UCONN and is expected to be making his 3rd career NCAA tourney appearance this year but it would be his first with the Huskies. Before that, he has an opportunity to win his second-ever conference tourney championship, the first time since he did with the University of Rhode Island in the A10 (2017).

James Bouknight left the game yesterday halfway through the 2nd half with 10 points, 5 assists, and 5 boards. He didn’t look to be in great shape as he was carried off by trainers into the locker room. Hopefully, he’s good to go tonight because he’s been great all year and would be a key player in this showdown if he plays.

Creighton will be looking to repeat history and beat UCONN for the third time this year. UCONN understands that this is the biggest game of the year to this day for each team and that they’ll be more than happy to forget the last two if they win this one.

12/20 – Creighton 76 UCONN 74 OT

Christian Bishop had 19 points leading the Bluejays to an overtime win on the road. Bouknight had 40 points in a dominant performance but it wasn’t enough. UCONN had a 4-point lead with 15 seconds left then gave up an open layup, RJ Cole missed two free throws and then Damien Johnson hit a jumper to tie the game for the Jays at the end of regulation.

1/23 – Creighton 74 UCONN 66 

Denzel Mahoney went off for 20 points as the game’s leading scorer. The game was tied at the mid-point of the 2nd half but Creighton ran away with it during the last 10 minutes jumping out to a lead and holding it safely for the rest of the game.

Creighton shot for 51% from the field in their January win over the Huskies and still shot for 42% in the 2 point win that easily could’ve gone the other way. UCONN doesn’t put up those sort of shooting numbers and it’s not how they win. If they can find a way to create problems for Creighton and slow down that high-powered shooting offense, they’ll be able to stay in the game and even be in a position to take it in the end.

Creightons projected to be a 5 seed in March Madness this year. You’d have to wonder if by losing this game could they drop a spot and get a tougher game in the first round. Since they beat UCONN twice already this year I think they would need to really get blown out to drop at all at this point. UCONN should be safely in already and probably locked into their projected 9th seed regardless of tonight’s result.

With Villanova knocked out Creighton is now the highest remaining seed and therefore the default favorite to win the Big East tournament. UCONN may technically be an underdog in this game but I don’t think it’ll surprise a ton of people if they pull it off because they’re still a good team and arguably just as good as this Creighton team. You should expect this UCONN team to come out fired up looking for revenge on a team that beat them twice already this season.

I do expect a hot start for UCONN but I expect Creighton to be able to catch up with it. I believe Creighton is a better team, maybe not by much but I think it will show down the stretch in this game. My prediction is that when UCONN starts to cool down, Creighton will keep going and take the win in what I expect to be a high-scoring bout.

2021 Big East Tournament preview. dark. Next

I think if Bouknight is out it really hurts the Huskies’ chances but regardless of if he plays or not I still give the game to Creighton at this point. It’ll be a well-rounded scoring effort by the Jays with Mahoney leading the way with 17 points.

Prediction: Creighton 83 UCONN 76