Posted on: March 4, 2012 6:06 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 6:22 pm

Tiny Dancers: Creighton Bluejays

ST. LOUIS -- It would've been a shame to have an NCAA Tournament without Doug McDermott.

Now we know we won't.

Truth is, the Bluejays did enough in the regular season to secure an at-large bid. So nobody was sweating Sunday's MVC Tournament title game. But Creighton earned the league's automatic bid with an 83-79 victory over Illinois State and thus positioned itself to receive the type of seed that should give Greg McDermott's team a real shot to advance in the Field of 68.

The Bluejays are now 28-5 with a Top 25 RPI.

They could get a five seed but will probably get a six or seven.

Either way, the good news is this: Creighton's performance here in St. Louis will allow it to avoid the eight-nine game and, by extension, avoid a game against a No. 1 seed in the Round of 32. So the folks in Omaha can dream big. These Bluejays have the star power (Doug McDermott) and shooting ability (42.6 percent as a team from 3-point range) to cause problems. A Sweet 16 is a reasonable goal, a Final Four is a realistic dream. Sure, they'll need to guard a little better in spots to chase those things. But if you can score in March you can win in March, and there's no denying the Bluejays can score. They have one of the nation's best offenses. When they make shots, they're a tough out.

Player to know -- Doug McDermott. Remember what Steph Curry did for Davidson a few years back? This sophomore forward could do the same for Creighton. McDermott is averaging 23 points and eight rebounds this season, and he had 33 points in the MVC title game. He's a big-time talent at the right kind of school to be a big-time player, and there's no perfect way to guard him at the collegiate level. McDermott can beat you on the perimeter or in the post. He's not just a coach's son. He's a coach's dream (and an opposing coach's nightmare).

The Vitals:
  • Record: 28-5, 14-4 in the MVC
  • Most recent tournament appearance: 2007
  • We’re thinking: Six seed
  • KenPom ranking: 35
  • Sagarin ranking: 25
  • RPI: 23
  • Best wins: Wichita State, San Diego State, Long Beach State, Northwestern
  • Worst losses: Missouri State, Evansville
  • Notable stat: Creighton has an effective field goal percentage of 58.5 percent. That ranks first nationally.
-- Gary Parrish

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 3, 2012 8:39 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 8:40 pm

MVC title game preview: Redbirds stealing a bid?

ST. LOUIS -- I came here to see a championship game between Wichita State and Creighton.

Those are the MVC's two nationally ranked teams.

Those are the MVC's two best teams.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the title game everybody expected to watch Sunday. The 15th-ranked Shockers that handled Illinois State twice during the regular season lost to Illinois State in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament semifinals. So now it's the Redbirds vs. the 25th-ranked Bluejays for the title here at the Scottrade Center, and if Illinois State pulls one more upset the MVC will be a three-bid league.

"I could not possibly be more proud of these guys," Illinois State coach Tim Jankovich said after Saturday's 65-64 victory. "It was one of the toughest, hardest-fought performances of any team I've ever been around."

Illinois State is 0-2 against Creighton this season.

That should be noted.

But, remember, the Redbirds were 0-2 against Wichita State, too.

-- Gary Parrish
Posted on: February 13, 2012 4:34 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 4:42 pm

The Poll Attacks: Not ranking Wisconsin is dumb

By Gary Parrish

The Poll Attacks are now taking reader requests.

Read and see.

Let's go.

Associated Press poll: I was gonna spend this space Poll Attacking anybody who voted for Creighton because the Bluejays shouldn't be on anybody's ballot, plain and simple. Plus, I warned voters Saturday against ranking Creighton. And I hate it when people don't listen to me. So I sat down at this computer ready to tear apart the eight voters who voted for Creighton. But then I got a Tweet from a reader.
@GaryParrishCBS Pete Gilbert needs a good poll attacking. Wisconsin unranked, Murray St. left in the top 10.
Needless to say, I shifted gears.

What the F, Pete Gilbert?

How can anybody not have Wisconsin ranked?

The Badgers are 19-6 overall, 8-4 in the Big Ten, and they've won seven of their past eight with the lone loss coming by single-digits to No. 6 Ohio State. Five of their six overall losses are to teams that are currently ranked. The Badgers are top five at KenPom.com, top 25 at CollegeRPI.com, No. 11 in our Top 25 (and one) and on 64 of the 65 AP ballots. In other words, pretty much everybody (and every computer) in this world thinks Wisconsin belongs in the top 25 ... except Pete Gilbert, who omitted the Badgers but put Murray State in the top 10.

Now I don't wanna spend too much time on Murray State.

I'm going there this weekend.

I wanna be loved.

But I will point out that the Racers have zero wins over currently ranked teams and a home loss to Tennessee State, which is ranked 141st at CollegeRPI.com and 184th at KenPom.com. Murray State is good, no question. But top-10 good? That's a stretch. And at least 15 spots better than Wisconsin? That's a bigger stretch.

So get it together, Pete.

Let's not do this again next Monday.

Coaches poll: And now to Creighton ...

Because the same Bluejays who got 20 points in the AP poll got 30 points in the coaches poll, meaning the coaches are 50 percent sillier than the writers, which sounds about right, actually. For those who haven't been keeping track, Creighton stopped making shots a little more than a week ago and began what is now a three-game losing streak. So Greg McDermott's team is 21-5 with two wins over top 25 teams and four losses to teams that are currently unranked. They're probably gonna lose their league by two games. They're not headed the right direction. Bottom line, there was a time and place to be ranking Creighton. But now is not that time. And here is not that place. So let's let the Bluejays start shooting better than 30 percent from 3-point range again before we start considering them for top 25 ballots again. Deal?
Posted on: February 11, 2012 7:50 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2012 7:52 pm

Creighton shoots poorly again, loses again

By Gary Parrish

"It was all good just a week ago." -- Kanye West (and, presumably, Greg McDermott)

When we woke up last Saturday Creighton was 21-2 overall, 11-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference and alone atop the league standings. The Bluejays were going H.A.M. They were ranked 13th in the AP poll. Doug McDermott was a National Player of the Year candidate. It was all good.

But now?

Now it's remarkably bad.

The Bluejays lost their third straight Saturday.

This loss came by 21 points.

This loss came at home.

So now Creighton is 21-5 overall, 11-4 in the MVC and on its way to a second-place finish behind Wichita State, the school that delivered Saturday's 89-68 beatdown in Omaha. Barring too many stupid voters, the Bluejays will be unranked in both the AP and Coaches polls Monday. If not, you know what'll happen. But I really can't believe this has happened. It's the result of not making shots.

Creighton is statistically one of the nation's best 3-point shooting teams.

Or perhaps I should say was.

When we woke up last Saturday the Bluejays were shooting 45.3 percent from beyond the arc, which ranked first nationally. Then they went 5-of-16 from 3-point range in a loss to Northern Iowa, 4-of-22 from 3-point range in a loss to Evansville and 5-of-23 from 3-point range in a loss to Wichita State. Translation: Creighton is 0-3 in its past three outings while shooting 22.9 percent from beyond the arc.

That's the obvious reason for the decline.

It was all good just a week ago.

Now, not so much.
Posted on: February 4, 2012 7:13 pm

Video: Wild ending to Creighton-Northern Iowa

By Matt Norlander

Creighton is now a two-loss team in the Missouri Valley because Anthony James hit a spectacular 3-point shot at the buzzer to kill off the Bluejays, who seconds before tied the game on a 3. The final: 65-62.

What made the finish so terrific was the back-to-back bombs. Creighton's Antoine Young -- not All-American contender Doug McDermott -- buried a 3 to tie the game at -- you know what, just watch how it ended. This has been a splendid Saturday so far.

Posted on: January 30, 2012 9:38 am
Edited on: January 30, 2012 9:50 am

Weekly poll is back; pick the games here

By Matt Norlander

Due to college football's signing day falling on Wednesday this week, we've been pushed up in the polls. The good news is, we've got more games than before for you to vote on. Five of the results will air on "Courtside with Seth Davis" tonight at 7 p.m. ET, and another five will be revealed on "Inside College Basketball," which goes live at 11 p.m. ET, both shows on the CBS Sports Network, of course.

Get to clicking.

Want more of us? Or more interaction with hoops fans? We suggest you like the Eye On College Basketball Facebook page. And if that's not enough, CBSSports.com has your roundball fix tended to thanks to our daily newsletter.
Posted on: January 11, 2012 2:47 pm

Despite depth, MVC could be headed for two bids

By Jeff Borzello

The Missouri Valley Conference as a whole hasn’t been this good in several years, with several teams capable of winning the league title. Moreover, the middle of the league is strong and road games in the MVC are as tough as any league in the country.

But it’s those strengths – good depth and teams that protect their home court – that could limit the Missouri Valley to two bids this season.

Right now, there’s six teams with at least 10 wins and RPIs that are 102 or better.

Creighton has the best chance of any team in the league to get an at-large bid. The Bluejays are the regular-season favorite and already have non-conference wins over Northwestern and San Diego State. Moreover, they beat Wichita State on the road and held off Northern Iowa on Tuesday night. While the losses at Saint Joseph’s and Missouri State were surprising, they’re not bad defeats. They’re in the best shape going forward.

Then there’s Wichita State. The Shockers have the best win of anyone in the league, their 19-point home victory of UNLV back in early December. All three of their losses are to top-25 RPI teams and they’ve already picked up two road wins in MVC play. Assuming Wichita State is still in the mix come February, a six-game stretch where it faces Creighton, Northern Iowa, Indiana State, Illinois State and Missouri State (twice) will put them in or out of the field.

After that, I’m not sure there’s anyone with a NCAA tournament-worthy profile at this point.

Northern Iowa has great computer numbers, but the Panthers need more quality wins. Iowa State is the best one so far. Two sub-100 losses and a 2-3 start to conference play aren’t helping either.

Missouri State could be an interesting case. The Bears already won at Creighton and Indiana State, which will give them a big boost later in the season. If they hold serve at home, they could be in contention for the regular-season title. That would be a nice card to play on Selection Sunday.

Illinois State has a gaudy record and wins over Northern Iowa and Missouri State, but three sub-100 losses and bad computer numbers will seal their fate. Indiana State has a road win at Vanderbilt, but the rest of the cupboard is pretty bare. Both would have to make a huge run.

Although league play is only a couple of weeks old, we’re already starting to see the top teams beat up on each other. While that makes for an exciting conference race, it’s not good for at-large teams. Moreover, some of the teams at the bottom are proving to be very tough tests for the top-tier teams, especially on their home court. Going forward, a couple of teams are going to need to separate themselves from the pack. A big Bracket Busters weekend from the league is necessary, too.

Creighton and Wichita State seem to be in good shape, but the rest of the league has a lot of work to do if more than two teams are coming out of the MVC.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: January 9, 2012 10:20 am

Podcast: The MWC can no longer be undervalued

By Matt Norlander

We can't turn our heads anymore. The Pac-12 is miserably bad, perhaps continuing in the worst season in its existence -- that dates back to when it was the Pac-8 and the Pac-10. What's the reason for this? Is it doomed to become a one-bid league? The Dagger's Jeff Eisenberg says no, even if you want to upchuck your dinner just following this league.

Today's 'cast isn't all negative, though. Jeff and I also give our top five non-BCS teams, waxing on the Mountain West in the process. The MWC could be the fourth-best league in the nation. Let's start talking about that over peanut butter and crackers.

On to the podcast:
  • From the beginning: Banter before the basketball.
  • 1:15: Addressing, examining and a lack of mockery -- but heavy pity -- for the Pac-12. What the biggest story lines with the league right now?
  • 4:26: How'd the Pac-12 get to this point? How'd a Big Six conference become so laughable?
  • 9:27: How many bids is this league setting up to get? Calling it a one-bid conference is easy, and understandable, but by March, two teams getting in seems likely.
  • 12:30: Moving on to the Mountain West -- the fourth-best conference in the country. Believe it, fools!
  • 16:04: Eisenberg's top five non-BCS teams. Xavier makes it. Fo' real.
  • 22:06: We get to this point of the year, there's always a team or two who's undervalued despite playing well. We give our picks.
  • 24:55: Louisville, Missouri, Florida and UConn all fell Saturday. Top 15 teams. Which one will wind up playing the worst the rest of the way?

Continued thanks from me to you for keep coming back and listening. Please: spread the word. Hoops season is ramping up, and I'd love more hate mail. Spread this page and the iTunes subscription link to anyone you'd think would like this sort of think. We post three times per week, with the Wednesday show being a low-rent sitcom wannabe of a half hour, thanks to CBSSports.com national writers Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman Skyping in their opinions. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com