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NCAA Tournament Predictions: Midwest Region: 7. Creighton vs. 10. Cincinnati

Doug McDermott (AP)

Doug McDermott (AP)

 Creighton (27-7, 13-5)-The Jays are a dangerous team led by All-American candidate and nation’s second-leading scorer Doug McDermott (23.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg). We ranked Creighton in the Top 10 in the preseason, and the Bluejays responded by tearing out of the gates at 17-1. They own wins over Wisconsin and California, and cruised to a Missouri Valley Conference championship by dominating Drake, Indiana State, and for 30 minutes, Wichita State.

Creighton did lose 5 of 8 in midseason, but they will head into the tournament winners of five straight. This is the nation’s best-shooting team (.508 field goal percentage) and assists on 17 baskets per game. Big man Gregory Echenique (9.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg) seems like he’s been at Creighton for 23 years, but he is a solid college center and will compete on defense and under the boards. This team is deep and incredibly talented offensively. It would not be a surprise at all to see Creighton advance into the second weekend.

KEY STATS:

1st Field Goal Percentage (.508)

4th Assists Per Game (17.2)

25th Points Per Game (75.4)

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Guard Cashmere Wright

Guard Cashmere Wright

 10 Cincinnati (22-11, 9-9 Big East)- The Bearcats got off to a hot start, racing out to a 12-0 record and picking up wins over Oregon, Iowa State, Alabama and Xavier. But Cincinnati slipped up several times in a tough Big East, fading to 9-9 and needing a first-round win in the Big East tourney to sew up a bid for sure.

Cincinnati has experience in the backcourt in guards Cashmere Wright (12.6 ppg, 3.1 apg) and Sean Kilpatrick (16.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg). Both are capable of turning it on when necessary and both have hit big shots for the Bearcats in crunch-time situations. Cincinnati also has the experience of losing in the Sweet 16 last season, so they’ll be prepared this time around.

In predicting this game, note the difference in field goal percentage. Creighton is wet, ranking No. 1 in the nation, while Cincinnati couldn’t hit water if it fell out of a boat (305th).

KEY STATS:

8th Rebounds Per Game (40.0)

305th Field Goal Percentage (.402)

197th Points Per Game  (66.6)

 

PREDICTION:  Creighton 

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