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.
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?