The Creighton men’s basketball team is returning to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in six seasons, and 20th time in program history. The sixth-seeded Bluejays earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and will meet 11th-seeded Rhode Island on Friday, March 17 in games played in Sacramento, Calif.
The game will be played approximately 30 minutes after the 1 p.m. Central tip between Oregon and Iona, and be contested at Golden 1 Center (15,745 capacity). It will be televised by TBS.
The bracket was unveiled on Sunday afternoon on CBS, with the team gathering at D.J. Sokol Arena to watch the Selection Show with their fans.
Creighton enters the NCAA Tournament with a 25-9 record. The Bluejays tied for third place in the BIG EAST Conference, then beat Providence and Xavier to reach the finals of the BIG EAST Tournament. Junior guard Marcus Foster (18.3 ppg.) leads the team in scoring and was named a unanimous All-BIG EAST First Team selection. He was also named to the All-BIG EAST Tournament Team on Saturday night. Center Justin Patton (13.1 ppg., 6.2 rpg., 1.5 bpg.) owns 71 dunks and ranks second in the country in field goal percentage (.694), which helped him earn BIG EAST Freshman of the Year accolades. Sophomore guard Khyri Thomas was named BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year and leads the team with 51 steals.
Creighton is coached by Greg McDermott, who owns a 166-81 record in seventh year with the Bluejays. This year marks his seventh trip to the NCAA Tournament at the Division I level, including trips to the third-round in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Among McDermott’s assistant coaches is Preston Murphy, an assistant and associate head coach at Rhode Island from 2010-14 and a standout with the Rams from 1995-99, where he helped URI to the Elite Eight.
This year marks Creighton’s 19th postseason bid in the last 20 seasons, which includes 11 NCAA Tournament bids in that span. The Bluejays have won at least one game in each of its last eight postseason appearances.
Rhode Island (24-9) earned its spot in the NCAA Tournament with Sunday’s victory in the Atlantic-10 Conference title game. The Rams are coached by Dan Hurley and are 4-1 on neutral floors this season. E.C. Matthews averages 14.9 points per game, while Hassan Martin is close behind with 14.1 ppg. URI enters the NCAA’s on an eight-game win streak.
The teams have met once previously, a 74-73 Creighton victory in the 2008 National Invitation Tournament. That game featured the Bluejays overcoming a 12-point deficit in the final 3:10, winning the game on a Cavel Witter three-pointer with 3.2 seconds left.
The winner of Friday’s Creighton/Rhode Island game will meet the winner of the game between third-seeded Oregon and 14th-seeded Iona. The winner of that second-round contest advances to the Midwest Regionals, held March 23 and 25 in Kansas City, Mo. Teams that advance out of the Regionals will head to the Final Four, contested on April 1 and 3 in Phoenix, Ariz.