The months (OK, weeks) of hand wringing and fretting by the Creighton Bluejays fanbase can end. The #12 Creighton Bluejays, who join #9 Murray State as the two best predetermined home teams in this year’s event, will host Long Beach State Saturday, February 18, at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha.
The game, featured at 9 p.m. CT on ESPN2, will pit the Bluejays against a 49ers team that is currently 9-0 in Big West Conference play after starting the season with the toughest non-conference schedule in the nation. Long Beach State won’t be intimidated by the CLink crowd; the Niners traveled to Kansas, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and San Diego State, and played Kansas State and Xavier in Hawaii.
Long Beach State is currently a top 50 team in the RPI. Sure, the Big West pales in comparison to the Valley to this point in the season. But the 49ers will pose a tough test for Doug McDermott and the Bluejays — who won’t be penalized with a sub-RPI 50 game. Forward T.J. Robinson averages a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds), and has done so since his sophomore season. Casper Ware is a spectacular guard, averaging 17 points and 3.3 assists per game. Larry Anderson (15 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3 assists per game) joins those two as senior leaders for LBSU, while newcomer James Ennis chips in 10 a game.
Meanwhile, Murray State draws Saint Mary’s. The Gaels, #16 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, were the most desirable road opponent Creighton could have drawn. The folks in Bristol, though, positioned Murray State — undefeated at the time of the selections — with a home court challenge from the top team in the West Coast Conference.
Creighton leads the all-time series with Long Beach State 3-1, with the last game coming in 1973. The Jays lost that game 68-51 to the #5 49ers, coached by Jerry Tarkanian. Creighton beat LBSU in 1963, 1964, and 1967.
Make sure to check White & Blue Review for more info about the ESPN BracketBuster game between Creighton and Long Beach State.