Creighton’s schedule next season leaves much to be desired

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Creighton has the potential for a special season in 2012-2013.

With Player of the Year favorite Doug McDermott back in fold, along with a roster that returns all but one player (Antoine Young) from last season’s 29-6 team, the Bluejays have the kind of talent that would put them on the level of Gonzaga, Xavier and Butler when it comes to teams outside the Power Six conferences.

In other words, don’t be surprised if Creighton puts together a 30-win season.

The problem?

There’s no guarantee that a 30-win season will equal success in the NCAA tournament.

On Selection Sunday last season, the Bluejays were 28-5 and fresh off of a win in Arch Madness, the MVC’s always-surprising tournament in St. Louis. They owned victories over San Diego State and Long Beach State in non-conference play and knocked off Wichita State in one of their two meetings during the regular season. Those were the only four games the Bluejays played against teams that made the NCAA tournament, and despite the MVC being relatively strong (the league was eighth in the RPI), Creighton was saddled with an eight-seed in the Big Dance and a date with North Carolina in the Round of 32.

Getting stuck in the 8-9 game is an easy way to see a potential cinderella become an afterthought.

And thanks to Greg McDermott’s stubborn refusal to play guarantee games, Creighton’s schedule may end up being weaker this season:

Creighton is promised only one game against a team that made the NCAA tournament last season. One. That’s at California, which got bounced in the play-in round in March.

There are home games against Akron, Tulsa, St. Joseph’s, Alabama-Birmingham, Boise State and two punching bags to be named later (opening-round games of a Las Vegas tournament).

There’s a road game at Nebraska (in addition to a BracketBusters game in February) and dates in Vegas against two of these three: Wisconsin, Arkansas and Arizona State.

Creighton will also be adding one more opponent, which one can only hope is a big name program.

Now, this schedule isn’t entirely McDermott’s fault. The games with UAB and Tulsa looked much better when they were agreed upon than they do now. The game with Akron is a leftover from last year’s BracketBusters and the Bluejays got a bad draw in the MWC-MVC challenge by landing Boise State instead of New Mexico, SDSU, Colorado State or UNLV.

That said, the concern for the Bluejays isn’t necessarily that they won’t be challenged heading into the Big Dance. This will be a veteran group that already owns a win in the tournament. They’ll be ready to play. The issue is where they’ll be seeded.

If Creighton doesn’t draw Wisconsin in the tournament in Vegas and St. Joe’s doesn’t end up being as good as many expect, it is feasible that the Bluejays will play the entire regular season without facing a tournament team.

What kind of seed can they hope to draw with that kind of a schedule?

Chimezie Metu cleared to play by USC

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USC has cleared junior forward Chimezie Metu as he’ll be allowed to play on Saturday against Utah, the school announced.

The 6-foot-11 Metu is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Trojans this season as he was one of the players named in the Friday reports that linked him to NBA agent Andy Miller and Christian Dawkins.

The Trojans are the latest school to allow their player to play after the reports as they follow schools like Duke and Kentucky, as they also did the same with allowing Wendell Carter Jr. and Kevin Knox Jr. to play.

It’s also noted in the release that USC is reviewing Bennie Boatwright’s eligibility as well even though he’s out for the season with a knee injury.

On Friday, Yahoo Sports reported a wide-scale payment operation from Miller and Dawkins in order to recruit players for Miller’s agency. The records allege that Bennie Boatwright Sr. received about $2,000. The records also allege that Metu or his advisor, Johnnie Parker, also got $2,000.

Although the allegations look serious, Dawkins has also proven to be untrustworthy in many instances and it’s hard to tell what might be real and what might be a cover for another expense. It’s hard to prove a lot of these things presented in a business expenses spreadsheet. USC is backing Metu by saying he never received anything that would harm his eligibility as they try to make a final push at Arizona before the postseason.

Bubble Banter: There will be some NCAA tournament bids determined today

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Saturday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

YET TO PLAY

MARQUETTE
PROVIDENCE
SETON HALL
BAYLOR
TCU
LOUISVILLE
VIRGINIA TECH
SMU
MIAMI
LSU
TEXAS
USC
UTAH
MISSISSIPPI STATE
TEXAS A&M
WASHINGTON
ALABAMA
KANSAS STATE
OKLAHOMA
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
ST. BONAVENTURE
FLORIDA

Marvin Bagley III returning to Duke lineup against Syracuse after knee injury

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Duke star freshman Marvin Bagley III will be available for the Blue Devils on Saturday when they play Syracuse in an ACC home game.

Bagley missed the past four games due to a knee strain that he suffered in the Feb. 8 game against North Carolina. During Bagley’s absence, the Blue Devils went 4-0 as their defense looked very good and senior Grayson Allen became an aggressive scorer.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of changes Duke makes with Bagley’s return. Watching Bagley’s health and seeing how many minutes he plays will be another subplot to watch against the Orange.

Kentucky responds to recent reports from FBI investigation

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Kentucky has officially responded to recent reports that some of its players, notably freshman Kevin Knox, could be involved in the fallout from NBA agent Andy Miller and Christian Dawkins’ FBI investigation.

Knox is one of the players mentioned in a Yahoo Sports report on Friday that included documents for how Miller and Dawkins recruited players to the agency. In the report that Dawkins sent to Miller, it is noted that Knox or a family member of Knox allegedly had a meal with Dawkins.

Kevin Knox Sr. said he didn’t know Miller or Dawkins in a report on Friday. Kentucky also seems to be backing Knox entering Saturday’s SEC clash with Missouri. The Wildcats haven’t found anything wrong while reviewing the matter internally as it looks like Knox will play.

Kentucky seems to be following Duke’s path with Wendell Carter Jr.

Both are still allowed to play, despite being listed in the report, because there are a lot of factors still at play here. It should be noted that the evidence against all of these players in the Dawkins case looks bad.  It’s also hard to prove whether an actual encounter occurred. Dawkins doesn’t have the greatest history of being honest as CBT’s Rob Dauster noted.

Dawkins could have been misleading about some of these encounters with his boss to make himself look good. It’s also difficult to tell who truly paid for the meal, as it is conceivable that some of these players or their families paid for themselves.

Regardless of the nuances of this case, Knox looks like he will continue to play for a recently resurgent Kentucky team that has won two straight games. It’ll be interesting to see if this case hovers over Knox and Kentucky or if they can continue to power through and play well.

Memphis guard Jeremiah Martin out for the season with broken left foot

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The University of Memphis announced on Friday that junior point guard Jeremiah Martin will miss the rest of the season with a broken left foot.

The leading scorer in the AAC this season, the 6-foot-3 Martin injured his foot in the first half of the Tigers’ win over Houston on Thursday night. Martin did not return to the game as he left the arena in a protective boot. Martin is expected to have surgery to repair the foot on Tuesday as he’s expected to miss four-to-six weeks with the injury.

While the Tigers will be significantly worse without its best offensive player, Memphis did come back to beat the Cougars without Martin on Thursday night, as they’ll still be a tough out in the American. Martin was putting up 18.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game as he was in the midst of a breakout junior campaign.

If Martin returns to school for his senior season, he’ll be under heavy consideration as one of the top 100 players in college basketball next season.