Creighton headlines top mid-majors
by Scott M Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to the first week of Bracket Briefing, our attempt to ensure that readers won’t have to wait until March to know who C.J. McCollum is.
Team of the week: Creighton
The story line for No. 13 Creighton’s season-opener vs. North Texas last Friday was perfect. It was a tantalizing matchup between national player of the year candidate Doug McDermott and future NBA lottery pick Tony Mitchell. While a dozen scouts focused on Mitchell (he finished with 18 points and seven rebounds), 17,139 in attendance at Omaha, Neb., witnessed a complete dismantling of North Texas in a 71-51 win for Creighton. For all of the preseason accolades that McDermott has garnered, perhaps it’s time to start worshiping the team, coached by Dad Greg McDermott, that returns all but one prominent player from last year and has the potential to crack into the top 10 very soon.
Where Creighton would be seeded in the NCAAs if the season ended today?
Right now, a No.4 seed. The reason no one would dare mention the Bluejays in the conversation for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament comes down to defense. Creighton finished an astonishingly bad 222nd in the nation last season. What will it take for the Bluejays to bridge the gap from scary mid-major to top-5 team? Here’s my best estimation, based on strength of schedule, RPI and hoping young teams show vulnerability early on: Creighton would have to go 11-0 in the non-conference season, picking up wins vs. Wisconsin, St. Joe’s and California. Then, it’d take a 2-0 start in Missouri Valley Conference play. 13-0 seems tough, huh? Welcome to the life of a mid-major. It’s non impossible. Remember, the Bluejays were 29-6 last year. Their only non-conference loss was at St. Joseph’s and they won 11 straight games in the Valley. It’d be Jan. 2, mark your calendars.
The top-10 team that Creighton would give fits to: Kentucky
Experience, depth and a patient offense would trump John Calipari’s highly-regarded freshmen class.
The top-10 team that Creighton would struggle against: Michigan
The Bluejays issue defensively isn’t that they don’t hustle. McDermott probably leads the … [For more on Bracket Briefing: Creighton headlines top mid-majors, click here.]