NCAA tournament team previews: Creighton Bluejays
As part of its preview of the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team's national rank. For more teams, click here.
Record: 26-7, 14-4 in the Big East
Adjusted offense / Adjusted defense: 125.1 (1st), Adjusted Defense: 103.1 (134th)
Seed: No. 3 in West
Impact player: Doug McDermott, senior forward, 26.9 points, 7.0 rebounds per game, 52.5 percent shooting 45.6 percent from 3-point range.
The Case For:
No other team in the nation has a dynamic scoring force like McDermott, the certain Wooden Award winner who can get his shot off in any circumstances from any spot on the floor. Even unfamiliar surroundings don't matter: He showed up at Madison Square Garden for the Big East tournament and promptly set records, including one for the most points in a half during the event (27 before intermission against DePaul in the quarterfinals).
The combustibility extends throughout the rest of the offense. Creighton can bury teams with its three-point shooting, helping it rank No. 1 nationally in both made three-pointers (342) and effective field goal percentage (59.3). And the Bluejays don't waste many possessions either, with a 1.78 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Creighton is no stranger to March Madness, either. This will be its third straight appearance in the Big Dance, and it will enter the tournament with a starting lineup composed of four seniors (including sixth-year senior Grant Gibbs) and a junior.
The Case Against:
McDermott doesn't have bad nights all too often, but it only requires one and Creighton may bid a hasty adieu to the NCAA tournament. But even when he's on -- as he was in the Big East final, scoring 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting against Providence -- he still needs help. Bluejays who are not the son of their coach combined to shoot 11-of-30 against the Friars in that game, a miserable performance if they want to draw some attention away from their star scorer.
Meanwhile, the defense has been suspect all season. Creighton has allowed opponents to shoot 42.2 percent for the season and averages only four steals per game. McDermott (7.0) is the only Bluejay to average more than 4.0 rebounds per game, which is what 6-7 forward Ethan Wragge has given them this year. That suggests his aversion to the paint (93 percent of his career shot attempts have been 3-point tries) extends to both ends of the floor.
In fact, the entire team is susceptible to being punished on the boards. Its rebounding percentage of 50.2 ranks 183rd in the nation, and its offensive rebounding percentage ranks 288th. Some of that is because Creighton shoots the ball so well, but it could be a worry in games when the shooting isn't terrific and the Bluejays can’t give themselves extra possessions.
SI prediction: Beat Louisiana-Lafayette in second round, beat Baylor in third round, beat Wisconsin in Sweet 16, lose to Arizona in Elite 8View complete bracket predictions from SI.com's panel of experts