Creighton Bluejays (#2), 24-6 (14-4)
Doug McDermott (26.5 Points, 7.2 Rebounds, First Team All-Big East, Wooden Award Finalist)
Entering their first season as a member of the Big East, the Creighton Bluejays were picked to finish third in the conference behind Marquette and Georgetown – with Doug McDermott picked unanimously as the preseason player of the year. With five straight wins to open the season, Creighton climbed to #20 in the AP Poll before dropping two straight games to San Diego State and George Washington and falling out of the rankings. The McDermott’s and Co. did not lose again until January 18 at Providence, when they were once again ranked #20 and once again fell out of the polls due to the loss. The Bluejays returned to #20 the following week after its historic night at Villanova – and ended up moving as high as #9 four weeks later. Despite two convincing wins over the Big East regular season champion Villanova, Creighton finished second in the conference due to four road losses to Providence, St. John’s, Xavier, and Georgetown. The Bluejays finished the regular season with a win on Senior Night, led by the dominant Doug McDermott, who surpassed 3000 points in his career in the win.
Creighton’s Road: Thursday 7PM, versus Georgetown/DePaul
Creighton will play the winner of (7) Georgetown vs. (10 DePaul) on Thursday evening at MSG. Greg McDermott’s team had no problems with DePaul this season, defeating them by an average of 15.5 points. If DePaul beats Georgetown, the country’s most efficient offensive team would have no problem with the Blue Demons, the conference’s worst efficient offensive and defensive team.
More likely, however, Georgetown will advance to take on Creighton. In this case, the matchup will be a rubber match, as both teams won against the other on their own home floor this season.
Creighton is a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, so this week will be all about seeding. With a Big East championship, the Bluejays could end up as high as a No. 2 seed, while a loss will likely put them on the No. 3 or No. 4 line.
Creighton has had some trouble away from home this conference season, posting a 5-4 record away from the CenturyLink Center. The Bluejays are also just 1-2 on neutral courts this year going back to November. No game in New York will be easy for Creighton, as they will play teams fighting for their postseason lives in each round (except for a possible championship showdown with Villanova). In order to get to Saturday night, I think Ethan Wragge will need to get out of his funk. He has hit 1 or fewer three-pointers in 6 of Creighton’s last 10 games – and is just 5/19 (26.3%) in his last 3 games (well below his season average of 47.8%). If McDermott’s supporting cast performs this week, it will be tough to stop the Bluejays from taking home the trophy. I predict Ethan Wragge will bounce back and hit some big shots under the bright lights, McDermott will average 30 per night, and the Creighton Bluejays will end up Big East Champions.