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Capitals Set Sights on Doubling Up Flyers

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The surprising Georgetown Hoyas try to complete a Cinderella run to the Big East tournament title — and an NCAA Tournament berth — when they face the No. 17 Creighton Bluejays in the championship game on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. The eighth-seeded Hoyas have won three games in three days to reach this point, as they have a chance at their first Big East tournament title since 2007.

The Hoyas won six of the first 10 Big East tournament titles from 1980-89 but have just one title in 2007 since. Creighton is shooting for its first Big East tournament title after coming up short in its two previous sportsbook appearances in the championship game.

Philadelphia Flyers
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

These teams split their previous two meetings this season, with both coming within a seven-day span in early February. Surprisingly, it was the visiting team that came out on top each time.

If you’re looking at the college basketball odds to bet on this game, Creighton is an 8½-point favorite, with the over/under set at 142½.

Familiar Place

While the current batch of Hoyas isn’t used to a lot of success in Madison Square Garden, their head coach definitely is, as Patrick Ewing was part of Georgetown’s early success in this tournament as well as a Hall of Fame playing career with the New York Knicks. Can he add to his legacy as the coach of a Big East tournament-winning team now?

Senior swingman Jamorko Pickett led the winning effort against Seton Hall on Friday night, scoring a team-high 19 points to go along with six rebounds while playing all 40 minutes. Pickett was also a big part of the effort to shut down Big East Co-Player of the Year, Sandro Mamukelashvili, who finished with eight points on 3-of-16 shooting.

Senior guard Jahvon Blair has been Georgetown’s leading scorer, averaging 15.7 points and hitting 61 3-pointers. He also dishes out a team-high 3.8 assists per contest.

Pickett is averaging 12.7 points, while sophomore center Qudus Wahab contributes 12.5 points along with team-high averages of 7.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. As anyone who watched Ewing play might expect, the Hoyas are one of the top shot-blocking teams in the Big East, averaging 3.88 per game.

Just Keep Playing

Despite dealing with controversial comments by head coach Greg McDermott over the past couple of weeks, the Bluejays continue to win, getting past Connecticut by three in the tournament semifinals. Senior forward Damien Jefferson led Creighton with 14 points in a defensive game that didn’t see either team shoot 38% from the field.

Junior Marcus Zegarowski is the biggest key for McDermott, as he runs the show as well as averaging a team-high 15.4 points. The 6-2 guard is fearless going to the hoop but is also hitting 40.4% of his 3-point attempts this season.

Senior Denzel Mahoney adds 12.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, while Jefferson is scoring 12.4 points and grabbing 5.6 rebounds per contest. Junior forward Christian Bishop adds 11.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

The Bluejays don’t have a starter taller than 6-7, compared to the Hoyas’ starting frontcourt of 6-7, 6-9, and 6-11. Georgetown outrebounded the Bluejays in each of their regular-season meetings, so Creighton must send everyone to the boards to try to keep the Hoyas from getting multiple cracks at the basket in a possession.

Battle To The End

Throw out the records because Georgetown is playing like a completely different team than its 12-12 record would indicate it is. Having Ewing in their corner in Madison Square Garden is certainly a plus as well.

Creighton has the experience, with a starting lineup of three seniors and two juniors, as well as being in postseason play in recent years. McDermott will have his team ready to go, and in the end, that experience will likely win out.

Still, we like Georgetown to keep this one close to the end. When making your college basketball picks, take the 8½ points and roll with the Hoyas.

The Washington Capitals (16-6-4) are in the City of Brotherly Love Saturday to take on the Philadelphia Flyers (13-8-3)  in the back half of a two-game series.

The Capitals got the best of Philly this past sportsbook Thursday, winning by a score of 5-3. Nic Dowd was the unsung hero, scoring twice. Captain Alex Ovechin also scored his ninth goal of the season.

When you are betting online on this game, the Philadelphia Flyers are -120, with a total 6 goals.

Washington feeling good

Peter Laviolette’s club has now won three straight, outscoring their opponents 13-8 in that span. The Caps win with their offense, ranking fifth in the NHL in goals per game (3.35). Veteran center Niklas Backstrom leads the way with 10 goals and 19 assists, while All-Star defenseman John Carlson has 22 points in 26 games.

Alex Ovechkin comes in third in scoring, which shows how loaded this team is. If there was any bone to pick with this offence, I’d like to see more production out of former first round pick Evgeny Kuznetsov. The talented Russian has only two goals in 16 games.

Carter Hart struggling

Carter Hart had a rough outing on Thursday, allowing three goals in the first period. His save percentage is now at .888, while his GAA is at 3.61. The 22-year-old has been inconsistent in his third year in the league, after putting up solid rookie and sophomore seasons with the Flyers.

Hart is expected to start in net instead of veteran Brian Elliott, while Illya Samsonov will most likely get the nod for Washington. Samsonov is 4-0-1 between the goalposts, with a .907 save percentage and GAA of 2.55.

Defense doesn’t win championships?

At least that’s what these teams believe. They’re bottom in the bottom 10 of goals allowed, and the Flyers have the seventh-worst penalty kill in the league. Look for Washington’s powe rplay to take advantage if given enough opportunities. It should be noted though that key PP man Tom Wilson won’t be playing in this one. He’s serving a seven-game suspension for boarding Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo back on March 5.

JVR having bounce-back year

After only compiling 40 points in 66 games last season, James Van Riemsdyk leads Philly in scoring in 2021 with 11 goals and 16 assists. The former second overall pick in 2007 has had an underwhelming career at times given the spot he was drafted, but he’s proving the skeptics wrong at the age of 31. JVR should be playing some of the best hockey of his career, and he’s doing that.

Joel Farabee has also been fantastic for the Flyers. The 21-year-old, 2018 first-rounder has 22 points in 23 games and is already performing ahead of schedule. The second overall pick in 2017, Nolan Patrick, continues to struggle in the show however, with only two goals and three assists in 24 games. Patrick put up subpar numbers in his first two seasons with the Flyers, and has seriously regressed in 2021.

Prediction

The Flyers have a boatload of forward depth with veteran names that I haven’t mentioned yet like Kevin Hayes, Claude Giroux, and Jakub Voracek.

The presence of Tom Wilson will be missed in this rematch, and you have to expect Carter Hart will perform better. The Flyers are 7-4-2 at home and need a big weekend win here to stay within striking distance of the fourth and final playoff seed in the East Division. Philly has been playing mediocre hockey for too long now, and it feels like Washington is due for a loss.

When doing your NHL betting, take Philly to get revenge and get a big home win on the moneyline.  Take Philadelphia at -120.

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