Previewing Creighton

Next up on the bracket for North Carolina is Creighton, which features an All-American and is one of the nation's top shooting teams. Sunday's tip-off at the Greensboro Coliseum is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and will be televised by CBS.

No. 1 North Carolina (30-5) vs. No. 8 Creighton (29-5)
Greensboro, N.C. -- Greensboro Coliseum
Sunday, 5:30 p.m.
CBS (Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg)


"My guys are relatively intelligent, and they're going to stare across at the guy that they're playing against and understand that he's probably going to be playing in the NBA in the next two years and they're not. So we have got to do what gives us the best chance to win. Part of that will play out as the game goes on. It's not that we won't run, because we will, and if we get an open three in transition we're going to shoot it. No doubt. It's going up." – Creighton head coach Greg McDermott on if there is any danger in trying to run with North Carolina

"Somebody said to me last night, it's going to be fun on Sunday because you don't have any pressure. I said, what do you mean we don't have any pressure? We're playing to get to the Sweet 16. That's a lot of pressure. And that's what we play for; that's what we coach for." – McDermott


Season to Date: Creighton enters Sunday's contest with a 28-5 (14-4 MVC) record. The Bluejays entered the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 19 in the AP poll. Second-year head coach Greg McDermott's squad won 21 of its first 23 games before dropping three straight during the first two weeks of February, but has since won seven in a row.

NCAA Tournament Results: The eighth-seeded Bluejays overcame an 11-point second-half deficit against No. 9 seed Alabama to post a 58-57 victory in second round action on Friday. Doug McDermott led Creighton with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Grant Gibbs added 10 points. The Bluejays shot 54.2 percent (13-of-24) and scored nine points off turnovers in the second half.

Sophomore Sensation: In case you haven't heard by now, McDermott played alongside North Carolina's Harrison Barnes at Ames (Iowa) High School, where the pair helped their team win 53 straight games and consecutive state championships. The 6-foot-7, 220-pound sophomore almost red-shirted as a freshman before injuries to two teammates forced him into the lineup. Since then, the versatile forward has exploded onto the national scene and earned USBWA first-team All-America honors this season. McDermott is averaging 23.2 points – thanks to a 49.5 3-point field goal percentage – and 8.2 rebounds per game. He dropped 44 on Bradley on Jan. 7.

Red Hot Offense: Creighton leads the country in field goal percentage (.507) and ranks second in assists (17.8), third in 3-point field goal percentage (.425) and seventh in assist-turnover ratio (1.47). The Bluejays are knocking down 8.2 3-pointers per game, thanks to a bevy of players with an ability to shoot from long range. Five players in the normal rotation are shooting 40 percent or better from behind the arc and two more are converting on 36.7 percent or better of their attempts.

Porous Defense: On the flip side, McDermott admitted on Saturday that he takes a "bend but don't break" approach on defense. The stats bear that statement out. Creighton ranks 212th nationally in field goal percentage defense (43.9), 246th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (35.8), 272nd in turnover margin (minus-1.7), 287th in blocked shots (2.3) and 322nd in steals (4.8).

Familiar Face Down Low: Junior center Gregory Echenique became the first player in Creighton history to earn MVC Defensive Player of the Year honors after blocking 54 shots and averaging 7.4 rebounds per game this season. In conference play, the Guatire, Venezuela native led the MVC with 1.7 blocks and 2.8 offensive rebounds and ranked second with 8.2 rebounds per game. Tar Heel fans may remember Echenique from when he played against UNC as a Rutgers' Scarlet Knight during the 2009 national championship season. He scored six points and grabbed five rebounds in 29 minutes before fouling out in Chapel Hill on Dec. 28, 2008.

Points Aplenty: Sunday's matchup features the top-two scoring teams left in the NCAA Tournament. North Carolina ranks second nationally with 81.8 points per game and Creighton checks in at ninth with 79.4 points.

Random Fact of the Day: Creighton is 4-0 against power conference teams this season – Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern and Alabama.

Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated the Bluejays, 106-86, on Dec. 12, 1970, in Charlotte, N.C.

Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Creighton, 2-0.

Projected Starters:
30 Antoine Young (6-0, 175, Sr.) - 12.1 ppg, 4.5 apg
12 Jahenns Manigat (6-1, 175, So.) - 6.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg
10 Grant Gibbs (6-4, 210, Jr.) - 7.1 ppg, 5.1 apg
3 Doug McDermott (6-7, 220, So.) - 23.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg
00 Greg Echenique (6-9, 270, Jr.) - 9.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg

Top Reserves:
34 Ethan Wragge (6-7, 225, So.) - 6.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg
5 Josh Jones (6-2, 195, Jr.) - 5.1 ppg, 1.9 apg
1 Austin Chatman (6-0, 180, Fr.) - 2.4 ppg, 1.9 apg

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(Photos by US Presswire)

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