Creighton University Bluejays: NCAA Tournament Team Preview

Bluejays NCAACreighton University Bluejays (3 Seed, West Bracket)

Record: 26-7 (14-4 Big East)

Coach: Greg McDermott

Tournament Berth:  At Large

Big Wins: Tulsa, Marquette, Nebraska, Villanova

Big Loses: Providence, St. John’s, Xavier, Georgetown

Creighton, playing its first year in the Big East tournament, has proven to be a force in the legendary conference. Ranked no. 14 in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls, the Bluejays were the number-two seed in the Big East post-season tournament. An upset loss to Providence in the championship game denied the Bluejays an automatic NCAA post-season bid. This is the last year that coach Greg McDermott will get to coach his son, senior Doug McDermott, in the college ranks. Father Greg took the Creighton job four years ago when Dana Altman accepted the head coaching vacancy at Oregon.  Doug had committed to Northern Iowa at the time, but decided to join his father at Creighton instead.  It has proven to be a fruitful decision for both father and son. The leader of a talented team, the younger McDermott is the favorite of many to capture player-of-the-year honors in the NCAA.

Top Players

POINTS

PPG

FG%

FT%

3PT%

Doug McDermott

26.9

.525

.866

.454

Ethan Wragge

10.5

.467

.833

.473

REBOUNDS

REB

OFF

DEF

BPG

Doug McDermott

7.0

1.6

5.3

0.1

Ethan Wragge

4.0

0.5

3.5

0.1

ASSISTS

APG

SPG

TO

AST/TO

Austin Chatman

4.5

0.5

1.7

2.6

Grant Gibbs

3.8

0.5

1.9

2.1

Starting Five

F– Ethan Wragge

F – Doug McDermott

G – Austin Chatman

G – Grant Gibbs

G – Jahenns Manigat

Who’s Hot:  Doug McDermott is always hot, averaging almost 27 point per game.  His last three have games showed totals of 35, 32 and 27 points. As a team, the Bluejays are second in the nation in assists, averaging 11.7 per game.

Who’s Not:  Creighton’s scoring. In the Big East championship game loss to Providence, the Bluejays were held to 24-points below their season average. In three-point field goals, Creighton’s strength all season, they could make only 8 of 30.

Outlook:  Even though they finished the Big East conference regular season second behind no. 3 ranked Villanova, the Bluejays handed the Wildcats their only two conference losses. Both were convincing wins too, winning by 26 at Villanova and by 21 on their home court in Omaha, Nebraska. In those wins, Creighton had two of their four highest point totals of the season. Even though they rely heavily on shooting from behind the three-point line, the Jays are fourth in the country in overall field goal percentage at 49.9 percent. Even though conventional wisdom is that the team will struggle if the  three-pointers are not falling, Creighton and McDermott have shown the ability to go inside when necessary. If the Bluejays are able to put the disappointment of their Big East championship game loss behind them, chances are good that they’ll be able to make a good run in the NCAA tournament. One thing besides that loss to Providence that may weigh heavy on their minds is a pair of late-season road losses in early March to Xavier and Georgetown. Coach McDermott will look to the leadership of a starting five that includes four seniors to move beyond those bad memories.

Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky
@Chuck_pod

Sources:
ESPN
Omaha.com
USA Today

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