Bracket Buster No. 7: Creighton

Justin KundratCorrespondent IFebruary 15, 2009

This bracket-buster write-up has been long overdue.

For the past six or so seasons Creighton has been one of the most dangerous mid-major teams in the country, making the postseason for the past ten seasons and always giving major-conference schools a scare.

This year is no different. The Bluejays are finally making way, on a six-game winning streak, to put themselves only one game behind conference-leading Northern Iowa.

But even if they don’t win the conference, a tournament bid is still likely. Creighton is currently 21-6 overall, having recently snapped Northern Iowa’s eleven-game winning-streak in a six-point heart-breaker win on the road.

Like most other dangerous bracket-busters, Creighton shoots very well from beyond the arc, at 39.4 percent as a team, which ranks 15th in the country. This is what allows them to score more than 74 points-per-game, backed by the efforts of senior guard Booker Woodfox, who averages 16 points-per-game on 49 percent three-point shooting.

Yet Woodfox, who is second in the Missouri Valley in scoring, didn’t even receive preseason honors. Instead, 6'"3 sophomore P’Allen Stinnett did, who chips in an average 12.8 points of his own on a team that plays at a much faster pace than most other MVC teams.

But that doesn’t mean their defense is lacking. As a team, the Bluejays hold opponents to just 64.7 points-per-game while forcing more 16 turnovers in what usually results in an assist-turnover ratio of about 0.7 to 1.

However, even though they are responsible for handing Dayton one of their three losses and hold wins over New Mexico and St. Joe’s, Creighton’s losses haven’t exactly been “pretty.”

Two point drops to Nebraska and Arkansas-Little Rock can be excused, along with a three-point mishap against Northern Iowa. But losing by 22 to Illinois State and double digits to both Wichita State and Drake? I don’t think so.

If a team (especially one who hasn’t exactly proven themselves on a national level) is to be successful, they need to be consistent. One can argue that they are on a six- game winning streak, beating conference opponents by near 15 points-per-game, but those losses still are a little unsettling, to say the least.

Looking ahead, the Bluejays have four remaining games, three of which are at home. The big test will be their bracket-buster matchup against George Mason, a team that is sitting at third place in the CAA.

A four-game sweep over the next few weeks would almost guarantee Creighton an at-large bid, especially if they can make a run in the ever-competitive conference tournament.

Creighton, depending on how they fare in the MVC tourney, will probably land an eight or nine seed, which would likely mean playing a one seed in the second round. While they are fully capable of winning, the Bluejays lack size, and therefore rebounding.

This will certainly hurt them down the stretch of NCAA tournament games, so if there is any chance of a Sweet Sixteen run, they need to be paired up against smaller, more guard-oriented opponents.

Only time will tell what happens with the Bluejays.

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