Last month, the Creighton Bluejays' nonconference schedule for the upcoming 2014-15 season was announced. And with that announcement generated an interest in tackling a ranking of the most intriguing matchups for the Bluejays' slate as they head into their second season as a member of the Big East Conference.
So, with that said, here we go:
1. Nebraska Cornhuskers (December 7; Lincoln, Nebraska) - The Huskers surprised much of the college basketball world by making an appearance in the 2014 NCAA Tournament and finding themselves in upper echelon of the Big Ten standings. And this year, chances are they will find themselves in that position again as they return much of the same supporting cast. With this game being at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, it could bring out a sensational environment.
2. Oklahoma Sooners (November 19; Omaha, Nebraska) - The states of Nebraska and Oklahoma are no strangers to one another, and while this matchup may not bring out the animosity and intensity that there would be if, say, Big Red took on the Sooners on the gridiron, this game should still bring out some eyeballs. The OU offense last year was very, very good and Buddy Hield is one of the most exciting under-the-radar players in America.
3. Cincinnati Bearcats (November 29; Niceville, Florida) - After Nebraska and Oklahoma, the bottom really drops out on the rest of the slate. Cincinnati will be manned by Mick Cronin again and should prove to be a tough out if the Bluejays were to match up with them in the finals of the 2014 Emerald Coast Classic. But with Sean Kilpatrick Gone, and five other departures, Cincy will be looking very different this coming season.
4. Ole Miss Rebels (November 28; Niceville, Florida) - Much like the Bearcats, Ole Miss was gutted in the offseason, losing polarizing guard Marshall Henderson along with six other players. Luckily for head coach Andy Kennedy, two of his major contributors from last year will be back in 6-foot-3 guard Jarvis Summers and 6-foot-6 guard LaDarius White. This rare Big East-SEC tilt should be interesting to watch, if nothing else, for novelty-sake.
5. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (November 29; Niceville, Florida) - The 2014 Emerald Coast Classic surely brings the most amount of intrigue, Nebraska and Oklahoma matchups aside, for the Bluejays in their 2014 nonconference schedule. It does not end here with this potential contest against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. Regular season champions of Conference USA a season ago, the Blue Raiders were decimated by the exits of four of their most strongest contributors from last season due to graduation.
6. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (December 3; Tulsa, Oklahoma) - This is the second part of a home-and-home series that was started last year, where the Bluejays were able to get by the Golden Hurricane despite a less than stellar performance. This year, the game turns to Tulsa, where they will no longer be run by former Kansas Jayhawks great Danny Manning. Instead, Frank Haith, formerly of Missouri Tigers and Miami-Florida Hurricanes is the new man in charge, so we will see if his coaching prowess can churn out what would be quite the early season win for him in his first year coaching.
7. St. Mary's (CA) Gaels (December 13; Omaha, Nebraska) - The last time that these two teams met, Creighton was still a member of the of the Missouri Valley Conference, Doug McDermott was a junior, and Matthew Dellavedova was the premier player for the Gaels. Now, over a year and a half later, the Bluejays and Gaels will collide in Omaha in a mid-December matchup.
8. NC Central Eagles (November 23; Omaha, Nebraska) - The Creighton Bluejays will play three teams that made the 2014 NCAA Tournament. And the North Carolina Central Eagles of the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference are one of them. They were one of the better defensive teams in the country last year and finished the season as the No. 81 team in Ken Pomeroy's rankings, with a record of 28-6.
9. North Texas Mean Green (December 21; Denton, Texas) - The bottom might have very much dropped out at this point, but it's certainly true that this game will be intriguing if only for the fact that Creighton will be trekking to Denton to battle with the North Texas Mean Green. North Texas has not hosted a high-major team since the LSU Tigers came to town in December 2012, where the Mean Green fell short.
10. Eastern Illinois Panthers (November 25; Omaha, Nebraska) - Creighton's sendoff to Niceville, Florida (I do wonder if it actually is nice there) is a matchup against the Eastern Illinois Panthers. The Ohio Valley Conference representative started off the year at 4-10 before sputtering to an 11-19 record to finish 3rd in the West Division of the conference. Jay Spoonhour will be heading into his third season as the head coach of the Panthers, and has not fared well in his first two seasons, going a combined 22-40. This sandwich game might not be easy on the eyes.
11. South Dakota Coyotes (December 9; Omaha, Nebraska) - Should the Bluejays fall inside Pinnacle Bank Arena to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, they might be out for blood against the South Dakota Coyotes on December 9. The Coyotes, of the Summit League, went 12-18 a season ago and were simply outclassed in many of their games a year ago. This one, for all intents and purposes, could be ugly.
12. Chicago State Cougars (November 16; Omaha, Nebraska) - Creighton would be wise to not look ahead to Oklahoma, because this is the game that falls between that matchup with the Sooners on November 19. 13-19 a year ago, the Chicago State Cougars may not pose a threat from a talent standpoint, but the world of college basketball has stirred up stranger things. For Creighton, it would behoove them not to get caught napping.
13. Texas-Pan American Broncs (December 19; Omaha, Nebraska) - Head coach Dan Hipsher's Texas-Pan American Broncs get to travel to Omaha for the penultimate nonconference game for the Bluejays in 2014. Last year, the Broncs posted the fourth-lowest three-point percentage in the nation (.279 3PT FG%) and only scored 93.5 points per 100 possessions.
14. Central Arkansas Bears (November 14; Omaha, Nebraska) - This is the opening game for the Creighton Bluejays, and the Jays will be welcoming in the Central Arkansas Bears. The Bears were simply abysmal last season, going 8-21 with the 316th ranked Adjusted Offensive Efficiency in the country, despite having the seventh highest Adjusted Tempo in the country.