Creighton pleased with seed, matchup with Bearcats

ERIC OLSON AP Sports Writer Published:

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Creighton is going back to the NCAA tournament in a much more upbeat mood.

The Bluejays (27-7) were seeded No. 7 in the Midwest Region and will play 10th-seeded Cincinnati (22-11) on Friday in Philadelphia. Last year, Creighton went into the tournament 28-5 and grousing about receiving a No. 8 seed. The Bluejays beat Alabama and lost to top-seeded North Carolina.

The consensus among Creighton players and coaches Sunday was that the selection committee treated them fairly.

"I thought it was a pretty decent draw," senior Grant Gibbs said. "Obviously, Cincinnati is a tough, physical team. But overall we're pretty excited about it. It could have been worse."

Cincinnati (22-11) is in the tournament for the third straight year. The Bearcats started the season 12-0 and finished with 21 regular-season wins. They lost to Georgetown in the semifinals of the Big East tournament.

Cincinnati has won both previous meetings with Creighton. The first was in the 1962 NCAA tournament; the second was in the Rainbow Classic in 1989.

The winner likely will face second-seeded Duke, which opens against 15th-seeded Albany. Maryland knocked off Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference quarterfinals.

"It's kind of the same situation where we're playing against Duke second round just like we had to play against Carolina in the (third) round last year," Creighton's Doug McDermott said. "We're not scared of anyone, though. We're ready to play whoever."

Cincinnati-Creighton will be a clash of differing styles.

The Bearcats are one of the nation's top defensive teams, allowing 58.8 points a game and holding opponents to 38.5-percent field-goal shooting.

The Bluejays are scoring 75.4 points a game and are second in field-goal shooting (50.8 percent) and 3-point accuracy (42.1 percent).

McDermott, the Missouri Valley Conference player of the year, is the nation's second-leading scorer (23.1 ppg).

"They don't get up and down as much as we do," McDermott said. "It's the NCAA tournament, so I think everybody is looking to push and make plays, so I think it's a good matchup."

With the game in Philadelphia, the Bluejays undoubtedly will face questions about their expected departure for the Big East next season.

Villanova, located in Philadelphia, is one of the seven basketball-driven Catholic schools breaking away from the Big East. Cincinnati is one of the football-driven schools that will leave the conference July 1.

Multiple media outlets have reported that Creighton will exit the Missouri Valley and accept an invitation to the Big East, though neither the school nor conference officials have confirmed the move or that an invitation has been extended.

"We don't know if any of that is official anyway," McDermott said. "We just keep playing basketball every day and come to work every day for practice, and here we are going to the tournament, so we really can't worry about any of this (conference talk)."

The Bluejays have won five straight, including three in the Valley tournament last week. They've spent the past week practicing and hoping they can pick up where they left off in St. Louis.

"To do what we did in St. Louis, we have to take care of ourselves this week, get our legs and minds ready for a big game on Friday," coach Greg McDermott said, "and hopefully we spend a whole weekend in Philadelphia and have a shot to advance on Sunday."