Head coach Greg McDermott announced the non-conference schedule for the 2015-16 Creighton men’s basketball team on Friday. Eight home games, two contests in Las Vegas at the 2015 MGM Grand Main Event and road tests at Indiana, Loyola Chicago and Oklahoma highlight the slate.
Five of the opponents played in the postseason a year ago, including three NCAA Tournament qualifiers (Texas Southern, Indiana, Oklahoma), NIT participant Arizona State, and CBI champion Loyola Chicago.
Creighton tips off the 2015-16 season on Nov. 6 when it hosts Upper Iowa in an exhibition game. The Peacocks are Division II members of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and went 17-13 last season. Upper Iowa is coached by Brooks McKowen, who played three seasons for current Bluejay coach Greg McDermott at Northern Iowa from 2003-06.
The regular-season begins eight days later on Saturday, Nov. 14 when play in the MGM Grand Main Event starts with CU hosting Texas Southern before welcoming UTSA three days later. Texas Southern is coached by former Indiana and UAB head coach Mike Davis, who has led the Tigers to consecutive Southwestern Athletic Conference titles. It’ll be CU’s first match-up vs. TSU, and the first game vs. UTSA since opening the 1990-91 campaign with a 93-47 victory.
A new event, the Gavitt Tipoff Games, begins when Creighton treks to Bloomington, Ind., to take on Indiana. The Gavitt Tipoff Games is an eight-year deal that pits the Big Ten vs. the BIG EAST, with each BIG EAST school guaranteed to participate at least six times. The Hoosiers and Bluejays have not met on the hardwood since 1974. Indiana went 20-14 last season and will return all five starters from a team that lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at CenturyLink Center Omaha.
The Bluejays next travel to Las Vegas, Nev., to wrap up play at the 2015 MGM Grand Main Event. CU meets Big Ten foe Rutgers on Nov. 23rd before meeting either Clemson or Massachusetts on Nov. 25th to wrap up play in Sin City.
Creighton closes out November with a Nov. 28 home contest against Western Illinois before hosting Arizona State on Dec. 2. The Sun Devils, coached by Bobby Hurley, will be just the second Pac-12 team to make a regular-season visit to Omaha to play Creighton since 1979.
Creighton makes the first of two trips to Chicago on Dec. 5 when it plays at Loyola Chicago in a return game from a 2010 BracketBusters game. It will mark CU’s first men’s basketball game against a Missouri Valley Conference team since the Bluejays departed the league in 2013 and the Ramblers took Creighton’s place.
Four of Creighton’s final five non-conference games will be at home, starting with a Dec. 9 game vs. Nebraska and a Dec. 12 contest vs. IUPUI. Creighton has won four straight match-ups vs. Nebraska and has not lost a regular-season home game to the Cornhuskers since 1995. Creighton defeated IUPUI 99-52 in 2002 in its only previous meeting against the Jaguars.
Creighton returns a trip to Norman, Okla., on Dec. 19 to meet an Oklahoma team coming off a Sweet 16 appearance. The Sooners will no doubt be out for revenge after Creighton topped OU 65-63 last November in Omaha. Creighton has never met OU in Norman.
The non-conference campaign ends with a Dec. 21 game vs. North Texas and a Dec. 28 contest vs. Coppin State. The game vs. UNT wraps up a three-game series between the programs, while Coppin State makes its first trip to Omaha since defeating the Bluejays to open the 1989-90 season.
The BIG EAST Tournament will return to Madison Square Garden, taking place on March 9-12 in New York City at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
Creighton’s BIG EAST schedule likely won’t be released until closer to Labor Day.