NCAA tournament game notes: No. 10 seed Cincinnati vs. No. 7 seed Creighton

CINCINNATI - Game Information
Who: No. 10 seed Cincinnati Bearcats vs. No. 7 Creighton Bluejays
When: Friday, 2:45 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center (19,500), Philadelphia, Pa.
Radio: KXSP 590 AM, SiriusXM 85
Television: CBS
Series History: Cincinnati leads, 2-0
Last Meeting: Cincinnati won 60-58 on Dec. 28, 1989 in Honolulu, Hawaii
Next: The winner will advance to a third-round game on Sunday against either Duke or Albany.

Probable starters

Creighton

Doug McDermott, forward, 6-8, 225 senior (31.5 mins, 23.1 pts, 7.5 rebs, 49 percent 3pt (74-149))
Gregory Echenique, center, 6-9, 260 senior (22.6 mins, 9.6 pts, 6.6 rebs, 1.7 blks)
Austin Chatman, guard,, 6-0, 185 sophomore (31.7 mins, 7.4 pts, 2.6 rebs, 4.3 assts, 44 percent 3pt (33-75))
Grant Gibbs, guard, 6-5, 210 senior (30.7 mins, 8.6 pts, 4.1 rebs, 5.9 assts, 40 percent 3pt (21-52))
Jahenns Manigat, guard, 6-1, 175 junior (27.4 mins, 6.1 pts, 2.1 rebs, 38 percent 3pt (46-121))

Cincinnati

Titus Rubles, forward, 6-7, 206, junior (21.5 mins, 5.7 pts, 5.8 rebs, 2.0 assts)
JaQuon Parker, forward, 6-3, 198, senior (30.1 mins, 11.3 pts, 4.9 rebounds, 41 percent 3pt (40-98))
Cheikh Mbodj, center, 6-10, 236, senior (21.1 mins, 5.2 pts, 4.7 rebounds, 2.7 blks)
Cashmere Wright, guard, 6-0, 178, senior (29.4 mins, 12.6 pts, 2.4 rebs, 3 assists, 36 percent 3pt (70-195))
Sean Kilpatrick, guard, 6-4, 221 senior (34.3 mins, 16.9 pts, 5.2 rebs, 31 percent 3pt (80-261))

Key matchup

Titus Rubles vs. Doug McDermott: Rubles is an athletic, do-it-all performer but doesn't have a dominant skill. He'll be forced to guard McDermott from the outside if UC doesn't switch or play zone. McDermott is a better rebounder than some people think but the Bearcats will likely to try take him inside and see if they can get him in foul trouble.

Keys to the game

  • 3-point shooting
  1. Creighton is one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the country and almost everyone on the floor can shoot. The threat of shooting from deep also frees up space in the middle. Watch for a lot of screening and hope UC doesn't have to fight under too many of them, which would lead to wide-open shots.
  2. Cincinnati doesn't shoot well (40 percent). They really struggle from deep (32 percent), but that doesn't stop them from launching up shots (709). UC can be streaky so if they're on, look out. If they're off? Look away.
  • Rebounding edge
  1. Creighton is a great defensive rebounding team. They aren't a big team but they get great positioning and are feisty under the hoop. While they have outrebounded their opponents by better than five rebounds per game, they have been outrebounded on the offensive glass by about two per game. Although, when you shoot better than 50 percent from the floor and your opponents shoot 40 percent, that type of thing will happen.
  2. Cincinnati is one of the best rebounding teams in the country, averaging better than six rebounds per game more than their opponents. What they really do well is get second-chance opportunities. The 'Cats have more than 100 offensive rebounds more than their opponents on the season so UC should get second-chances.
  • Depth
  1. Creighton plays seven guys at least 16 minutes a game, which includes three players who get around 32 minutes of action each game. The Bluejays only utilized their bench for 29 total minutes, including 16 from Ethan Wragge, in a three-point win over Wichita State in their last game. In short: If the physical Bearcats can induce foul trouble, especially in the Creighton frontcount, the Bluejays may be in trouble.
  2. Cincinnati has mixed and matched its lineups all season. Mick Cronin has 10 different players he feels comfortable having on the floor throughout the game, which gives the Bearcats the freedom to play a fast-paced, aggressive style on both ends of the floor. I'd look for UC to run when possible, be aggressive in the paint, and hope the Bluejays need to go to their bench to keep up.
  • Offense/Defense
  1. Creighton is one of the best shooting teams in the country and they also pass the ball well (17.3 assists per game). When you combine their marksman-like shooting and quality ball movement with their ability to utilize screens and run a quality half-court offense, the Bluejays become almost unstoppable on offense.
  2. Cincinnati doesn't score a lot. In fact, sometimes they struggle to score (their top two scorers shoot less then 40 percent from the floor). What they can do is stop their opponent from scoring. The Bearcats have channeled the hard-nosed style of UC teams from the past and can really upset the offensive flow of their opponents. They've held their opponents to 38 percent shooting on the season and force more than 13 turnovers per game.

The information in the game notes listed below comes from the

sports information departments at Creighton and the University of Cincinnati.

Creighton notes

  • Seventh-seeded and 22nd-ranked Creighton (27-7, 13-5 MVC) returns to the NCAA tournament for the 18th time.
  • Creighton went 5-3 against teams that made the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Jays were 1-0 against Wisconsin, Akron and Cal, 2-1 against Wichita State, and 0-1 against Saint Mary's and Boise State.
  • Creighton is 27-7 this season (13-5 MVC) and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with a 68-65 win over Wichita State on March 10 in the championship game of the MVC tournament.
  • Creighton had also won the outright MVC regular-season title with a 91-79 win on March 2, also vs. Wichita State, which won its first game of the NCAA tournament against Pitt.
  • The Jays started the season impressively with an 11-1 record in pre-conference play. The start included victories over NCAA Tournament qualifiers Wichita State (twice), Wisconsin, Akron and Cal, as well as triumphs over league favorites from the Atlantic-10 (Saint Joseph's) and Sun Belt (North Texas).
  • Creighton is a No. 7 seed for the first time in history It's Creighton's second-best seed ever, trailing only the No. 6 seed in 2002-03.
  •  Creighton's last NCAA Tournament games came last season in Greensboro, N.C. The Jays defeated Alabama 58-57 before falling to No. 4 North Carolina 87-73.
  • In 25 previous NCAA or NIT appearances, Creighton has never won consecutive games in the same event.

Scouting the Bluejays

  • Junior forward Doug McDermott (23.1 ppg., 7.5 rpg.) is the nation's only returning First Team All-American and was named the Midseason National Player of the Year by Dick Vitale, Seth Davis, Mike DeCourcy and Andy Katz (among others). A two-time MVC Player of the Year, McDermott has been named MVC Player of the Week eight times this year. He ranks second nationally in scoring and also shoots 49.7 percent from three-point range. On Feb. 16th, he became the first junior in MVC history to surpass 2,000 career points.
  • Second on the team in scoring is senior center Gregory Echenique (9.6 ppg., 6.6 rpg., 1.6 bpg.). Echenique has led the MVC in blocked shots each of the previous two years, and was named to the MVC All-Tournament Team after finishing with 13 swats in three wins.
  • Creighton also boasts a veteran backcourt consisting of Grant Gibbs (8.6 ppg., 5.9 apg., 4.1 rpg.), Austin Chatman (7.4 ppg., 4.3 apg.) and Jahenns Manigat (6.1 ppg.). Gibbs and Chatman rank first and third in the MVC in assists, while Manigat led The Valley in league play in three-point percentage a year ago.
  • Creighton's bench is led by MVC Sixth Man of the Year Ethan Wragge (7.7 ppg.), who is fourth in the league with 74 three-pointers made and has drilled six three-pointers in a game on three occasions this season.
  • Creighton leads the nation in both field goal percentage (.508) and three-point percentage (.421), is fifth in assists per game (17.2), sixth in three-pointers per game (8.8) and is 10th in both points (2563) and assist/turnover ratio (1.40) while also outrebounding foes by 4.9 caroms a game.
  • Coach Greg McDermott is 1-4 as a Division I head coach in the NCAA Tournament, having lost five-point games as Northern Iowa's head coach in 2004 (vs. Georgia Tech), 2005 (vs. Wisconsin) and 2006 (vs. Georgetown), and going 1-1 last season at Creighton with a win over Alabama and a loss to North Carolina.

Cincinnati notes

  • Cincinnati is 22-11 on the season and finished 9-9 in the BIG EAST Conference. The Bearcats went 1-1 in last weekend's BIG EAST Tournament, defeating Providence before falling to Georgetown in the quarterfinals.
  • The Bearcats reached the NCAA tournament for the third straight season.
       

Scouting the Bearcats

  • Junior guard Sean Kilpatrick averages 16.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He's also second on the team with 61 assists and 41 steals this year.
  • Also in double-figures are fellow guards Cashmere Wright (12.6 ppg., 3.1 apg.) and JaQuon Parker (11.3 ppg., 4.9 rpg.).
  • Cheikh Mbodj averages 5.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots per game inside, while Titus Rubles leads UC with 5.8 rebounds per game despite coming off the bench in 22-of-33 contests.
  • The Bearcats average 66.6 points per game and yield 58.8 per contest. UC shoots 40.2 percent from the floor, 64.9 percent at the line and 31.7 percent from downtown, while outrebounding foes by 6.5 per game.
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