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March Madness 2012: The Creighton Blue Jays Are Dancing In the NCAA Tournament

We’ll be doing NCAA Tournament profiles for all automatic bid conference winners leading up to Selection Sunday, for links to others, see bottom of this post.

Conference: Missouri Valley (27-7)

Location: Omaha, Nebraska

Famous Alum: Cubs owner J. Joe Ricketts and Cardinals Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. I’ll take Gibson in that rivalry matchup.

They’re Back! Creighton has made 16 tournament appearances, but have not played in a Regional Semifinal since 1974, when Eddie Sutton was coach. Somewhat surprisingly, this is their first trip since 2007, when they lost to Nevada in the first round.

Resume: Road wins over San Diego State and Wichita State, and home wins over Northwestern and Long Beach State highlight the wins. Creighton has been living a charmed life in recent weeks, winning three straight one-possession games to close the regular season, and then winning the MVC title in overtime.

Notable Player(s): You may have heard of Doug McDermott, the coach’s son, who is in the running for All-American honors and was the conference player of the year. The 6’7″ sophomore is averaging over 23 points a game and can play both inside and outside.

Team Style/Strengths: Creighton’s strength is their shooters, in addition to McDermott. They lead the nation in effective field goal percentage on offense. Gregory Echenique will be very important in the tournament and must stay out of foul trouble, as the team’s only big body inside opposite McDermott.

All-Important Rankings: 21 (RPI), 35 (Pomeroy)

Projected Outlook/Seed: Creighton’s run to the title gives them a shot at the 5-seed line, pending results from the major conference tournaments, where others could jump in front of them and knock them to a 6 seed with similar runs. I don’t see them dropping below a 6 seed now.

[photo via US Presswire]

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