Oh, no. Not again.
There’s that name, looming on the next bracket line down from Creighton in the Midwest Regional. We’ve seen it there before. Ten years ago, in fact.
That name had the CU crowd buzzing as it left the team event in 2003. Wouldn’t that be great? Just beat 11th-seeded Central Michigan in Salt Lake City.
We’re still waiting for that Creighton-Duke matchup.
Will it happen this time? Over Cincinnati’s eliminated body.
Nobody’s counting on the Blue Devils this time. But on Sunday, a funny thing happened on the way to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
There was a huge roar when Creighton’s name popped up on the screen at Sokol Arena, a No. 7 seed going to Philly to play the Big East Bearcats.
Then came the Duke name. More cheers. More smiles. Lots of euphoric stuff.
“It (Duke matchup) would be really cool,” Doug McDermott said.
Last year, it was totally uncool.
Last time we did this, Bluejay fans were not happy. Some stormed out of the Sokol Arena, complaining out loud about NCAA conspiracy.
Creighton, which won 28 games and the Valley tourney a year ago but finished second in the conference during the regular season, was seeded No. 8. And sent to Greensboro, N.C., to play Alabama, with No. 1 seed North Carolina up next.
Most felt CU got jobbed on the seed, and then the opponent, with the McDermott-Harrison Barnes storyline the fuel for conspiracy.
This year? It’s not much different, is it?
CU had a better résumé, a win over mighty Wisconsin and two Valley titles. The seed is up one, with a bear(cat) of an opponent in Cincy and ACC blue blood waiting on deck.
Why the good vibes?
The committee got it right. A couple months ago, CU fans were hoping for a three or a four seed. Then came bad losses in the Valley. This is where the Jays belonged.
Maybe it’s the idea of getting the blue blood out of its environment. Playing North Carolina in Greensboro is one thing. You’d be getting Duke in Philly. And Christian Laettner doesn’t play anymore.
Maybe it’s the news that Creighton will soon join the Big East. When that becomes official, Jays fans will feel like winners, no matter what happens in the NCAAs.
Oh, yeah. There’s that Sweet 16 goal. Haven’t forgotten that, have we?
This bracket doesn’t exactly throw ice water on that.
Cincinnati is a tough draw, just because of the defense and rebounding. That’s what the Bearcats do. They also like to press. That might benefit the Jays if they handle the ball. The Gregory Echenique who showed up for duty in St. Louis would be beneficial.
But UC doesn’t have a lot of great wins. It beat Marquette in overtime, won at Pitt, beat Iowa State and Oregon back in November. This is not a scary first-round game.
Certainly, it’s one with a dash of NCAA irony, or conspiracy.
Send the Jays deep into Big East territory, in front of a Big East crowd, with one soon-to-be former Big East team (Cincy) and one soon-to-be Big East colleague (Georgetown) of Creighton in the building.
And then there’s the Rev. Timothy Lannon angle — the president of CU who presumably is driving the bus to the Big East, and a former president of St. Joseph’s in Philly. Perfect. He’ll know where to find a good cheese steak.
Get past that one, and we can move on to more intriguing proceedings, such as coach Mike Krzyzewski and the crew trying to rebound from last year’s first-round loss to Lehigh in Greensboro. The Blue Devils are back to full strength. They probably could have been a No. 1 seed if not for that loss to Maryland in the ACC tourney. Make that two losses to the Terps this season.
It’s a Duke team that can beat Miami or lose to Virginia.
But we know better than to go there now.
Don’t underestimate those good vibes, though. Last year there was a sense of dread going into the NCAA tournament, the feeling that there was basically no chance of getting more than one win.
This year, smiles. Hope. Anticipation.
There are questionable moves in every NCAA bracket. This year was no exception. But there weren’t many questions or complaints down at the Creighton party Sunday.
“We’re ready to make some noise,” McDermott said.
The positive kind.
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