NCAA Tournament Cheat Sheets: Get to know Creighton

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Read through the rest of the NCAA Tournament Cheat Sheets here.

Conference: Missouri Valley

Coach: Greg McDermott

Record: 28-5, 14-4 (2nd)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 35
– RPI: 26
– AP/USA Today: 25; 24

How’d they get here?: The MVC tournament’s No. 2 seed was headed for an at-large berth, but beat Illinois State 93-79 in a thrilling final to take the automatic bid.

Potential seed: The Bluejays were a lock for at least a 6 before the MVC tournament. A 5 seed is probably headed their way.

Names to know: Doug McDermott (22.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 49 percent from 3); Antoine Young (12.4 ppg, 4.5 apg), Gregory Echenique (9.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.7 bpg)

Stats to know: No team shoots better than Creighton. The Jays make 42.6 percent of their 3s and 55.5 percent of their 2s, both of which are among D-I’s top five. McDermott is the big gun, but five other players hit at least 40 percent of their 3s, while three make at least 60 percent of their 2s.

Tendencies: Creighton focuses on offense, and with good reason. Few teams can boast such a lineup of shooters and efficient scorers (who also manage to do a decent job keeping teams off the offensive glass; thank Echenique and McDermott for that). But the Jays also don’t play much defense. They rarely force turnovers and are soft on the perimeter. You want to beat them, you have to outgun them and limit McDermott’s attempts.

Big wins, bad losses:  A win at San Diego State in November still stands as one of the best non-conference victories by any team. But the Jays also beat Northwestern and Long Beach State, not to mention a win at Wichita State during conference play. Losses to Evansville and Missouri State can be overlooked. They were MVC foes.

Outlook: Creighton’s first NCAA tournament since 2009 has the potential for a Sweet 16 spot – and maybe beyond if the shots are falling. McDermott is one of the nation’s 10 best players and capable of carrying the Jays when needed. (RE: 33 points in the MVC final.) He doesn’t force the issue, which means he doesn’t shoot the Jays out of games, either. He’s flanked by a solid interior player in 7-footer Echenique, a glue guy in junior guard Grant Gibbs and a savvy senior point guard in Young. If the defense makes ANY stops, they’ll be playing during the second week.

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