2022 NCAA Tournament SDSU vs. Creighton: Get To Know The Blue Jays

2022 NCAA Tournament SDSU vs. Creighton: Get To Know The Blue Jays

NCAA Tournament

2022 NCAA Tournament SDSU vs. Creighton: Get To Know The Blue Jays

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2022 NCAA Tournament SDSU vs. Creighton: Get To Know The Blue Jays


Midwest Region 8-seed San Diego State faces 9-seed Creighton in the 2022 NCAA Tournament’s round of 64 on Thursday, March 17th.


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Creighton’s top player Ryan Nembhart incurred a season-ending injury that may impact the Jays in the NCAA Tourney.

Fort Worth, TX-  On Sunday the 2022 NCAA Tournament Selection Committee awarded the SDSU Aztecs (23-8, 13-4 MWC) an 8-seed in the Midwest Region.  Their opening opponent will be the 9-seed Creighton Bluejays (22-11, 12-7 Big East) and the teams face off against one another at Dickies Arena in Forth Worth, Texas on Thursday, March 17th at 7:27pm. San Diego State opens as the slight favorite.

The winner will presumably face Midwest Region no. 1-seed Kansas.

Taking a closer look at the 2021-22 Creighton Bluejays, here’s what the Aztecs might expect.

A closer look at Creighton

Creighton is playing decent basketball going into the Tournament, despite a few challenges and setbacks this season.

Greg McDermott, has been Creighton’s coach since 2010.  The large, 6’8″ former university player is 274-136 at the helm of the Blue Jays.  This will be the second consecutive appearance for McDermott and the Jays in the NCAA Tourney, after reaching the Sweet 16 last year before falling to Gonzaga.

This year Creighton has reached the Big East Tournament Championship  as a 4-seed, defeating 5-seed Marquette 74-63 and then blowing out 1-seed Providence 85-58, before falling to 2-seed Villanova, 54-48.

For the 2021-22 season, the Bluejays have been fairly balanced offensively, with five players averaging 9+ points per game, including 2021-22 Big East Freshman of the Year Ryan Nembhard, who recently suffered a season-ending injury.

The Bluejays’ marquee wins are against Connecticut and Marquette- and a dominant 20-point win over Villanova.  They also took down Big East regular season champions Providence by 27 points.

Creighton has a #55 NET ranking, and a #53 KenPom ranking. The team maintains a 7-6 Quad-1 record as well as a 4-4 Quad-2 record. Creighton finished 6-1 against Quad-3 teams and 5-0 against Quad-4.

Their offensive efficiency ranking is 124, and their defensive efficiency ranking is 18.

Key Blue Jays To Watch

Ryan Kalkbrenner (7’1″, 256-lb center – SO): 13.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.7 bpg

Ryan Hawkins (6’7″, 222-lb forward – SR): 13.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.5 apg

Alex O’Connell (6’6″, 185-lb guard – SR): 11.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.1 apg

Arthur Kaluma (6’7″, 220-lb forward- FR): 9.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.2 apg

Trey Alexander (6’4″, 185-lb guard- FR): 6.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.2 apg

A huge blow to Creighton occurred on Feb. 23 in their game against St. John’s.  Aforementioned starting point guard Ryan Nembhard had a season-ending right-wrist injury, requiring surgery, that may impact Creighton in the NCAA Tournament.

Nembhard is considered by many to be Creighton’s top player.  He is also the brother of Gonzaga guard Andrew Nembhard.

Without Nembhard Creighton lost two of its final three regular-season games before entering the Big East Tournament.

Creighton has several things in common with San Diego State.  The Blue Jays hang their hats on defense, and were the best defensive team in the Big East.  They are also one of its worst offensive performers.  While San Diego State is not known for dominant offense, the Aztecs are the the #2 ranked defensive team in the NCAA- putting them on a whole different level.

The last time SDSU played Creighton was November 28th, 2019. The Aztecs routed the Blue Jays 83-52 in Las Vegas, handing them their worst loss in over 600 games. Creighton won’t let that happen again.

Creighton can win big despite its setbacks, so SDSU must be vigilant.

 

 

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