In their first year as a representative of the Big East Conference, the Creighton Bluejays suffered little to no growing pains. Although they came from the mid-major muscled Missouri Valley Conference, whose confines included the wicked Wichita State Shockers among many others, the boys from Omaha, Nebraska strutted their way to a 27-8 record, and a 14-4 posting in conference play. That record was good enough for second place in the regular season race, and runner up in the Big East Conference Tournament.
Needless to say, the second year may not be as inviting.
The Bluejays enter the 2014 season without 80 percent of their starting lineup a season ago. What's more is that the road they must travel to get back to the top of the Big East Conference -- and perhaps the NCAA Tournament -- is an unenviable one to say the least as we learned on Monday afternoon.
Here's the slate:
|at Providence Friars||Dec. 31, 2014||7:30 p.m. ET||FOX Sports 1|
|at Georgetown Hoyas||Jan. 3, 2015||4:30 p.m. ET||FOX Sports 1|
|vs. DePaul Blue Demons||Jan. 7, 2015||9 p.m. ET||FOX Sports 1|
|vs. Seton Hall Pirates||Jan. 10, 2015||2 p.m. ET||FOX Sports 1|
|at Marquette Golden Eagles||Jan. 14, 2015||9 p.m. ET||CBS Sports Network|
|vs. Providence Friars||Jan. 17, 2015||7:30 p.m. ET||FOX Sports 1|
|at Butler Bulldogs||Jan. 21, 2015||9 p.m. ET||FOX Sports 1|
|at Villanova Wildcats||Jan. 25, 2015||7 p.m. ET||FOX Sports 1|
|vs. St. John's Red Storm||Jan. 28, 2015||9 p.m. ET||FOX Sports 1|
|vs. Georgetown Hoyas||Jan. 31, 2015||TBA||CBS Sports Network|
|at Xavier Musketeers||Feb. 4, 2015||9 p.m. ET||FOX Sports 1|
|at St. John's Red Storm||Feb. 7, 2015||12 p.m. ET||FSN|
|vs. Marquette Golden Eagles||Feb. 14, 2015||1 p.m. ET||FOX Sports 1|
|vs. Butler Bulldogs||Feb. 16, 2015||9 p.m. ET||FOX Sports 1|
|at DePaul Blue Demons||Feb. 24, 2015||9 p.m. ET||FOX Sports 1|
|at Seton Hall Pirates||Feb. 28, 2015||4 p.m. ET||CBS Sports Network|
|vs. Villanova Wildcats||Mar. 3, 2015||9 p.m. ET||FOX Sports 1|
|vs. Xavier Musketeers||Mar. 7, 2015||2 p.m. ET||FOX Sports 2|
The Bluejays will not be getting any favors right from the get go, as they begin their second go-around in conference play with trips to Providence, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C. where the Providence Friars and Georgetown Hoyas will be welcoming them back to the Mid-Atlantic. The headline matchup of the New Year's Eve Tip-Off Marathon represents a rematch of the 2014 Big East Championship Game, where Providence defeated Creighton in a heavyweight bout inside Madison Square Garden. The last time Creighton was at the Dunkin Donuts Center, things did not go so well as the Bluejays were on the receiving end of a beat down. The Hoyas look to be a lot better going into the 2014 campaign after an abysmal 2013, and are likely the most legitimate of threats to challenge Villanova for the regular season Big East title.
From there, a matchup against the intriguing Seton Hall Pirates is sandwiched between lowly DePaul and a Marquette team that will surely be in transition mode after the departure of Todd Mayo and Buzz Williams, and the arrival of Steve Wojciechowski. The Pirates boast a touted recruiting class, with the biggest prize of all being Brooklyn, New York native Isaiah Whitehead. Despite dropping the game, The Hall played Creighton very well last season in Omaha, losing by just one point, and are arguably much better than they were last season.
Following the second matchup against the Friars, so begins the toughest portion of the season by far. Creighton will partake in four road games in arguably four of the best and toughest places to play in the conference. It begins with a trek to Nap Town when the Bluejays pay Butler and Hinkle Fieldhouse a visit, and then head east to take on the Villanova Wildcats, the juggernaut of the conference at this moment. Then, the Jays will welcome St. John's and Georgetown to CenturyLink Center Omaha, before heading to the clamours Cintas Center in Cincinnati to meet the Xavier Musketeers. And finally, a trip to Madison Square Garden to take on the Johnnies on February 7.
The final three games of the conference slate pose a significant threat to Creighton as well, as they head to Newark to face Seton Hall, and then finish the season against Villanova and Xavier at home.
It goes without saying that games are not to be played on paper. But whatever the case, it's hard to look at this schedule for Creighton, and not be fearful for what's to come given the turnover that the roster will be going through. Then again, in this world of college basketball, stranger things have happened.