Creighton Men's Basketball 2020 NCAA Tournament Capsule


Creighton Bluejays

Big East (24-7, 13-5)

Creighton was absent from the NCAA Tournament last season, but a top ten offense has the Blue Jays back in the dance. Creighton has failed to win a game in the tourney since 2014 when they were a 3-seed and Doug McDermott was a Blue Jay. This year’s squad has head coach Greg McDermott’s best offense since that 2014 team and a much better defense than they had that season. The three-headed monster of Marcus Zegarowski, Ty-Shon Alexander and Mitch Ballock is nearly impossible to contain when they’re all playing well. Creighton’s lack of defense and size has always been an issue under McDermott, but this year’s team is more than capable of overcoming those hurdles.
Big Wins: 2/1 at Villanova (76-61), 2/12 at Seton Hall (87-82), 2/23 Butler (81-59)
Bad Losses: 11/12 at Michigan (69-79), 1/15 at Georgetown (80-83), 3/1 at St. John’s (71-91)
Coach: Greg McDermott
Why They Can Surprise:
The biggest strength under a Greg McDermott coached team is the offense, and this year’s squad is one of his best since coming to Creighton. The Blue Jays score 78.3 points per game and are eighth in the nation in offensive efficiency. Creighton has four players that average double-digits, and two that average more than 16 points per contest. Marcus Zegarowski, Ty-Shon Alexander and Mitch Ballock all shoot north of 40% from three on a combined 18.9 attempts per game. Typically, a team that shoots as many threes as Creighton can be susceptible to a cold shooting game in the tournament, but the Blue Jays have so many scoring options that it seems highly unlikely that all of them would struggle in a given game. Creighton also values the ball at a high rate as they average just 10.9 turnovers per game to go along with their 15.8 assists per game.
Why They Can Disappoint:
As was the case in 2014 when Creighton was a 3-seed with Doug McDermott, defense is this team’s shortcoming. This year’s Blue Jays are just 78th in defensive efficiency, though that is a much higher clip than the 2014 team that was 124th in that department. One of the main reasons Creighton can struggle defensively is their lack of size. Kelvin Jones is the only player in the rotation taller than 6-foot-7, and he plays just 11 minutes per game. Creighton also uses a relatively short bench, as Zegarowski, Alexander and Ballock all play approximately 35+ minutes per game. The best way to stop Creighton’s high-powered offense could actually be when they’re on the defensive end by tiring them out. If the Blue Jays find themselves matched up with a team with depth and size or a strong defense, it could mean an early exit.
Probable Starters:
Marcus Zegarowski, Sophomore, Guard, 16.1 ppg, 5.0 apg
Ty-Shon Alexander, Junior, Guard, 16.9 ppg, 2.3 apg, 5.0 rpg
Mitch Ballock, Junior, Guard, 11.9 ppg, 3.1 apg, 5.3 rpg
Damien Jefferson, Junior, Forward, 9.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg
Christian Bishop, Sophomore, Forward, 8.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Key Role Players:
Denzel Mahoney, Junior, Forward, 12.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg
Shereef Mitchell, Freshman, Guard, 2.7 ppg, 1.4 apg
Kelvin Jones, Senior, Center, 3.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.3 (23rd in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.7 (185, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.1 (25, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.0 (121, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.7 (14, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.6 (9, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.9 (83, 4)
Rebound Margin: -2.2 (275, 9)
Assists Per Game: 15.8 (17, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.9 (17, 1)
Recent Postseason Appearances:
2019NITQuarterfinal loss to TCU
2018NCAARound of 64 loss to Kansas State
2017NCAARound of 64 loss to Rhode Island
2016NITFirst Round win over Alabama
2016NITSecond Round win over Wagner
2016NITQuarterfinal loss to BYU
2014NCAARound of 64 win over Louisiana
2014NCAARound of 32 loss to Baylor
2013NCAARound of 64 win over Cincinnati
2013NCAARound of 32 loss to Duke
2012NCAARound of 64 win over Alabama
2012NCAARound of 32 loss to North Carolina
2011CBIFirst Round win over San Jose State
2011CBISecond Round win over Davidson
2011CBISemifinal win over UCF
2011CBIFinal win over Oregon
2010CITFirst Round win over South Dakota
2010CITSecond Round win over Fairfield
2010CITSemifinal loss to Missouri State
2009NITFirst Round win over Bowling Green
2009NITSecond Round loss to Kentucky
2008NITFirst Round win over Rhode Island
2008NITSecond Round loss to Florida
2007NCAARound of 64 loss to Nevada
*all team stats through 3/8