The Creighton Bluejays and Alabama Crimson Tide will fight for the chance to advance to the Round of 32 after being named the eighth and ninth seeds respectively in the Midwest region.
It will be a classic battle of offense vs. defense.
Will Creighton's high-powered offense burst them past the Crimson Tide or will Alabama lock down on defense and secure the victory?
Where: Greensboro, NC
When: Friday, March 16 at 1:40 p.m. ET
Listen: Crimson Tide Sports Network (Alabama), KXSP 590 AM (Nebraska)
Betting Line: Creighton by 2 (VegasInsider.com)
No injuries to report
No injuries to report
What's at Stake?
We've seen throughout the years that seeds lower than No. 8 or No. 9 can go on serious runs in the NCAA tournament. Creighton is seventh in the nation in scoring, Alabama has a top-10 defense—both of these teams have the potential to do something special in the tournament.
But for now, it's about taking it one game at a time and advancing to the Round of 32.
What They're Saying
Drake coach Mark Phelps, who saw his team lose three times to Creighton this season, said of star Doug McDermott, via Al.com:
"He's a terrific player. People that haven't seen him will appreciate him once they do see him. Great feel, great hands, great footwork, as fundamentally as sound a player as there is. Long arms - people don't realize he's got longer arms. He uses his body well, and he just scores in a multitude of ways and makes big plays.
"In order to have a very successful season, you've got to have at least one player that's your prime-time player. He's that guy."
Creighton head coach Greg McDermott said of Alabama's style of play, via the Montgomery Advertiser:
“That isn’t exactly our cup of tea. It’s not what we like to do, but it’s obvious that the key to being successful against Alabama is making sure you don’t turn the ball over and give them easy baskets in that regard and also keep them out of the paint. They’re very explosive going to the basket.”
Most Important Player to Watch: Doug McDermott, F, Creighton
Phelps' comments about sophomore forward Doug McDermott were not exaggerated. McDermott is averaging 23.2 points and 8.2 rebounds this season while shooting 61 percent from the floor and nearly 50 percent from downtown. He's coming off a performance against Illinois State in which he scored 33 points. Alabama needs to keep him under control to be able to come away with the victory.
Key Matchup: Alabama defense vs Creighton offense
Who will win?
It's not just McDermott for Creighton. He has a host of role players that play off him nicely, including Antoine Young and Gregory Echenique. The Alabama defense is going to have to be at its best to pull off the upset.
Alabama did just hold high-scoring Florida to 66 points, though, so I believe the Crimson Tide are playing well enough defensively to stop McDermott and Co.
Prediction: Alabama 66, Creighton 65
This is a very close game to call, but I believe Creighton got one of the worst matchups it could get in the Round of 64. Alabama's defense is going to make things tough for the Bluejays and I ultimately see the Crimson Tide winning a squeaker.
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