College Basketball

Arizona State vs. Creighton: Will Doug McDermott or Jahii Carson Shine Brighter?

OMAHA, NE - NOVEMBER 8: Doug McDermott #3 of the Creighton Bluejays drives past Tyrel Hunt #0 of the Alcorn State Braves during their game at CenturyLink Center on November 8, 2013 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2013

Buried in the usual Thanksgiving feast of sports during the November holiday will be a matchup between two of the top players in college basketball.

If you are brave enough to stay up until 11 p.m. ET to watch Doug McDermott and Creighton face Jahii Carson and Arizona State, you will be in for a thrilling ride, especially after the suggested nap you'll take so you can watch the game in its entirety.

With all of the underclassmen shining during the first few weeks of the college basketball regular season, the performances of both McDermott and Carson have been swept under the rug a bit.

Don't tell that to the diehard fans in Omaha and Tempe, though. They have been in awe of what their stars have done on a nightly basis.

McDermott was the darling of the Missouri Valley Conference during his first three college seasons before the Bluejays shifted into the Big East for his final season.

In four nonconference games this season, McDermott has lit opposing defenses on fire. He has averaged a stellar 27.5 points per game while recording a 55.1 field-goal percentage.

Carson was a gem of a player last year, but he failed to attain the same level of attention that McDermott did.

Entering this season, everyone in the Pac-12 was talking about the sophomore guard. So far he has lived up to the hype by scoring 23 points per game in six nonconference clashes for the Sun Devils. 

The two have may have different styles of play, but their careers are taking similar paths. Both players decided to remain in the collegiate ranks for another season despite receiving a heavy dose of attention from the NBA.

McDermott is far from your traditional big man. He can make a basket from almost anywhere on the court. 

When called upon to utilize his size, the Bluejays senior can do just that. He also has put together eight rebounds per game during the first four games of his final hurrah in college. 

Carson is a guard, but he has the same impact on his team's play.

The sophomore Sun Devil is shooting 55 percent or better from both the field and three-point range, and he is not too bad of a free-throw shooter either with a 75.9 percentage. 

We should see a scoring duel between McDermott and Carson in Anaheim.

Both players also have a strong supporting cast, and they could potentially lead their sides to conference titles and a deep run in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

McDermott has big man Ethan Wragge, point guard Grant Gibbs and Creighton's third-highest scorer, Austin Chatman.

Tale of the Tape
Jahii CarsonDoug McDermott
23.0Points Per Game27.5
55.3Field Goal Percentage55.1
55.0Three-Point Shooting Percentage50.0
5-0Team Record4-0
gocreighton.com & thesundevils.com

Carson can counter with the duo of Jermaine Marshall and Jordan Bachynski.

So, which player will come out on top, advance on in the Wooden Legacy and most likely take home the tournament title?

That nod should go to Creighton and McDermott, but only by a few points.

The Bluejays have plenty of experience in big games, while Arizona State is still an up-and-coming team on the national stage.

Although they have plenty to prove to the nation on Thursday, the Sun Devils may not be able to contain the height of McDermott and Wragge on the court at one time, while Gibbs will look to dissect their defense whenever he gets a chance.

For Carson and the Sun Devils, Thursday's quarterfinal at the tournament in Anaheim will be a measuring stick of how far they still need to go to challenge nationally on a neutral court by the time March comes around.

Regardless of who ends up on top, this matchup of two premier college basketball stars should be the perfect dessert to a Thanksgiving feast of sports on everyone's favorite sporting holiday.

 

Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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