Grant Gibbs admits it: when he takes his seat Sunday for Creighton’s NCAA tournament watch party, optimism won’t be coursing through his body.
The Creighton senior says he’s more of a realist about where the Bluejays will be seeded for the 68-team tournament and who they might draw as an opening-game assignment.
“Ideally, it would be important to stay out of that eight-nine game again,” Gibbs said, “but there’s a good chance we could end up in that spot.
“Last year, everyone thought we’d be a five or a six (seed), but I just had a feeling that it wasn’t going to turn out that way for whatever reason. I kind of have that same feeling again this year.”
Creighton’s number came up eight last March when the NCAA tournament committee announced pairings and seedings. The Bluejays drew Alabama and posted a second-round win before seeing their season end with a loss to top-seeded North Carolina.
Most of Gibbs’ teammates were optimistic that their 27-7 season, including Missouri Valley regular-season and tournament championships, could earn them a better seed this season.
Creighton coach Greg McDermott, who is taking his fifth team to the tournament, said he’s uncertain where the Bluejays might wind up on the bracket.
“I looked at them (brackets) a lot last year, and we ended up with the worst seed we could possibly have,” McDermott said. “I haven’t paid a lot of attention to it this year.
“I’m not smart enough to figure it out.”
plenty of guys out there believe they are. If you Google “bracketology,” you can be overwhelmed with the possibilities not only facing Creighton but plenty of other teams.
A sampling of some projections for the Bluejays:
»CBSSports.com bracketology expert Jerry Palm has Creighton as a No. 7 seed and playing Minnesota in Philadelphia. The winner would advance to a third-round game against the winner of Georgetown-Florida Gulf Coast.
»ESPN.com bracketology guru Joe Lunardi has Creighton seeded seventh and playing Temple in Kansas City, Mo. The winner plays the winner of the game between second-seeded Kansas and Montana.
»SI.com has Creighton seeded sixth and meeting 11th-seeded Oklahoma in a second-round game in Salt Lake City. Awaiting the winner is a third-round game against third-seeded New Mexico or Stephen F. Austin.
»Several websites had Creighton playing in Auburn Hills, Mich. SB Nation projects the Bluejays as a No. 6 seed and meeting LaSalle or Tennessee, with the winner facing a possible game against third-seeded Michigan. RealtimeRPI.com also had Creighton in Auburn Hills, but playing as a No. 10 seed against Virginia Commonwealth. The winner would meet second-seeded New Mexico or Iona.
Naturally, Creighton’s players wouldn’t mind seeing their school head down Interstate 29 to Kansas City. More than 6,000 Creighton fans followed the Bluejays to St. Louis for the Valley tournament, and it’s likely a sizable group would go to Kansas City.
Sophomore center Will Artino particularly would like to see the Bluejays assigned to Kansas City. He said he has plenty of relatives in the Kansas City area who have never seen him play a college game in person.
“My mom’s whole side of the family lives down there,” Artino said. “My grandma has seen me play in college, but to be able to have my cousins there would be neat. And it would be nice to see all of our fans in Kansas City.
“We had a lot of fans follow us to North Carolina last year, but it would be nothing like if we were playing down there. But we’re just happy that we’re in.”
Creighton locked up its spot in the NCAA field a week ago when it defeated Wichita State in the championship game of the Valley tournament and earned the league’s automatic berth.
That allowed the Bluejays to spend a relaxing week rather than worrying about qualifying as an at-large team. It also gave them a chance to fine-tune their game in preparation for their opening game.
McDermott said he was generally pleased with his team’s three full-scale practices last week. He gave the players Saturday off, but they’ll practice Sunday before heading over to D.J. Sokol Arena to watch the 5 p.m. selection show on CBS.
The public is invited to join them, with doors to the arena opening at 4 p.m.
Even though Gibbs isn’t optimistic about what’s in store for his team, he is certain about one thing.
“The most important thing is we know we’re in the field,” Gibbs said. “A lot of teams probably didn’t feel real good about where they were at this week.
“We had a chance to get better every day. We’ll just have to see what cards we’re dealt.”
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