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No. 25: Creighton Bluejays


Mike Miller

Midnight Madness is Friday. So we’re kicking off our college basketball coverage with our men’s preseason Top 25. Look for five teams posted a day, all this week.

2010-11 record: 23-16 (10-8), fourth in Missouri Valley
Lost CBI title game

Coach: Greg McDermott, 23-16, 2nd year (195-163)

Last NCAA appearance: 2007

2011-12 roster [click here]
2011-12 schedule [click here]
2010-11 team stats [click here]

The good: Five of the top six scorers are back for McDermott, including his son, Doug. That’s no small thing given the 6-7 sophomore could emerge as the league’s top player and an All-America candidate. He spent the summer starring for Team USA and is ready to make the leap from solid freshman to dynamite sophomore.

McDermott, big man Gregory Echenique – who also played international hoops this summer, but with Venezuela – and point guard Antonie Young give the Blue Jays a potent trio to pair with a host of young talented players.

Plus, Creighton’s luck in close games should turn around this season. It lost six games by three points or less.

The bad: The Jays were in the CBI last year for a reason. They were just 3-11 on the road and might struggle at times again this year given all their freshmen and sophomores.

Improving the defensive pressure would be a start. The Jays were nearly dead last in turnover percentage, mostly because nobody can steal the ball. They don’t allow many second-chance points, but they don’t create many easy buckets, either.

The unknown: Creighton may not even be the Missouri Valley’s best team. Wichita State was an efficiency margin beast last season, and the Shockers return six players from a 29-win team. Unless McDermott does emerge as the league’s best player, Creighton won’t have the firepower to beat WSU.

And if the Shockers emerge as the league’s top team, there may not be room for two Valley schools in the NCAA tournament, let alone the Top 25. But a hoops fan can dream of another 2006, right?

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.