US Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Creighton Blue Jays – March Madness (March 20, 2021)

| March 19, 2021 11:17 am PDT

Recency bias is a real thing, especially when people are filling out brackets and betting on March Madness. Take this 5/12 matchup in the West Region as an example.

The Gauchos have only lost once in the calendar year and dominated UC Irvine in their conference championship. The Blue Jays got trounced by 25 in the Big East Final against a Georgetown team that otherwise wouldn’t have qualified for the Big Dance.

Add it all up and UCSB is a popular pick to unseat Greg McDermott’s bunch in the first round. Get yourself acquainted with each program first; then lock in your UC Santa Barbara vs. Creighton prediction.

UC Santa Barbara vs. Creighton Odds and Key Info
  • What: #5 vs. #12 matchup in the West Region
  • When: 3:30 pm EDT, 3/20/2021
  • Where: Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, IN
  • Coverage: truTV
  • Line: Creighton -7.5
  • Money Line: UC Santa Barbara +270, Creighton -325
  • Total: 137

UCSB Gauchos Analysis

The Gauchos get their first sincere test of the year after ripping through the Big West regular season and conference tournament. Their opponents were softer than what Creighton faced on a regular basis, but it’s important to note that UCSB didn’t play down to their competition. They own the 11th-best scoring margin in the country (+13.7 ppg) and are playing as good of basketball right now as they have all season long.

JaQuori McLaughlin and Amadou Snow lead the way and receive most of the recognition, and they have a terrific 6th man in Ajare Sanni. Unfortunately, Sanni injured his ankle early in the Big West Final and didn’t return; his status for Saturday’s showdown looks to be murky.

In the event that Ajare can’t go, Miles Norris (6’10”, 220 pounds) will be counted on to assert himself in the post and help shoulder the scoring load. Remember, even without the services of their top reserve, Santa Barbara coasted to a 16-point victory in the Big West championship game. That was after they cruised to a 16-point win in the semifinal.  

It was no surprise to see Noah Davis zeroing in on this matchup as one of his first round upset picks for March Madness.

Creighton Blue Jays Analysis

It’s no secret; Creighton is going to jack up as many threes as they can. The Blue Jays chuck up 26.5 treys per contest and rank 15th in the country in three-pointers made/game (9.7). Marcus Zegarowski is an honorable mention AP All-American who can single-handily take over a game, but don’t sleep on the rest of Creighton’s starting five.

All five of Greg McDermott’s starters average in double-figures. With that being said, they’ve picked a bad time to be falling into a rut.

Denzel Mahoney scored a total of 14 points in three Big East Tournament games. Mitch Ballock has been held in check as of late (20 points in three Big East Tournament games), and Damion Jefferson is 5 for his last 21 from the field.

The Gauchos play good perimeter defense and will be keyed in on stopping Zegarowski, although that’s a lot easier said than done. One of my players to watch in March Madness 2021, Marcus has been a flamethrower since the moment he arrived in Omaha.

Marcus Zegarowski – Career Three-Point Shooting at Creighton
Season 3-Pointers Made/Game 3-Point Attempts/Game 3-Point %
2018-19 1.9 4.4 42.6
2019-20 2.4 5.7 42.4
2020-21 2.7 6.5 41.2

McDermott and his crew will go as far as Zegarowski can take them.

UC Santa Barbara vs. Creighton Betting Pick

UCSB’s ability to combat Creighton’s three-point shooting makes me think the Gauchos are going to be in it until the end. The Blue Jays are armed with a deadly three-point shooter who can take over at the drop of the hat, but guess what?

JaQuori McLaughlin is just as lethal.

Every day is a new day in college basketball, but momentum is also a real thing. Santa Barbara is riding lots of positive vibes and is a really confident group; the Blue Jays have lost three of their last six by an average of 15 points per game.

The moral here?

Grabbing hold of the 7.5-point spread makes this one of the best bets for the first round of March Madness.

  • UC Santa Barbara (+7.5)

More March Madness Betting Picks For Saturday

Saturday’s March Madness schedule is simple. It’s non-stop around the clock with games starting seemingly every half hour. Locking in this UC Santa Barbara vs. Creighton prediction is one way to get some money down on the action, but it’s not the only first round game that piqued my interest.

Those wondering which underdogs are worth backing with the points, here are a couple of matchups to pinpoint.

Michael Wynn
Michael Wynn

As a former Division I collegiate golfer, Michael Wynn loves writing about golf. He's also an expert in most of America's most popular sports, writing extensively for on football, basketball, and baseball.

Michael's a Las Vegas native and has been with the company since 2017.

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