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Creighton Seeded Sixth in Midwest, Plays Rhode Island on Friday

Creighton Seeded Sixth in Midwest, Plays Rhode Island on Friday

Creighton officially returned to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, earning a six seed in the Midwest Region matched up against Rhode Island, with the game played in Sacramento on Friday. And if they win? Their Sunday opponent in the Round of 32 could potentially be Dana Altman and the Oregon Ducks, who are seeded third.

But for that to happen, they’ll need to get past the Rams, and that’s no easy task. Coached by Dan Hurley (brother of Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley, who the Jays beat earlier this year), they were 24-9 and 13-5 in the A-10, won their last five regular season games and rolled through the A-10 tourney.

They’re not a team that takes a ton of threes, with just 32% of their shot attempts coming from behind the arc (ranking 218th in D1). Just 25% of their points come from behind the arc, and of their main rotation players, none shoot better than 35% from outside or make more than 1.8 per game. Instead, they score primarily off the dribble and in the post, with 54% of their points coming on two-point shots, and most of those coming at or near the rim. They’re not a team that will beat you with jump shots, either — they break you down off the dribble and drive. Of their top five scorers, all have attempted at least 30% of their shots at the rim according to Hoop-Math.com, with three over 40%.

Leading scorer E.C. Matthews, a 6’5″, 200-pound junior, averages 14.8 points and 4.0 rebounds a game. He’s their best outside shooter, such as it is, at 33.7% (59-175), and he’s 100-194 from inside (52.4%). Their second leading scorer is Hassan Martin, a 6’7″, 235-pound senior who averages 14.3 points. He does almost all of his work inside, with 67.8% of his shot attempts coming at or near the rim. Third-leading scorer Jared Terrell, a 6’3″ junior, averages 12.3 points and takes 51% of his shot attempts at the rim. The Jays should match up fairly well defensively, as this is not a team who will spread them out and bury threes and jumpers all afternoon, like Marquette and Villanova have done to them.

Where they will pose problems for Creighton is on the offensive glass, as Rhode Island grabs an offensive board on 33.1% of their misses (that’s Seton Hall-esque, who’s at 35.4%). Defensively, they’re obscenely good, holding opponents to 29% shooting from outside (ranking second in D1), 45% from inside (ranking 37th in D1), blocking 16% of their shots (ranking second in D1), and coming up with a steal on 10% of their possessions.

The Rams are a tough, solid team, but so is everyone in the NCAA Tournament. The other 11 seeds are Providence/USC, Kansas State/Wake Forest, and Xavier, and none of those teams are cakewalks to scheme for or play against either. The bottom line is the Jays are back in the Dance, and that’s all you can ask for this time of year.

Here’s some tweets from the Selection Show Party, and reaction from social media following the announcement:

About Tom Nemitz

Tom is the creative production manager at an Omaha advertising agency, and holds a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from Creighton University. In his spare time, he covers Creighton sports for WBR, which he co-founded with four others in 2009.
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