College basketball is the most wondrous sports season on the planet. Sometimes when I'm abruptly awoken from a terrible nightmare about marauding thugs tormenting my loved ones I can find solace by thinking about college basketball. The orange orb spinning majestically through the air and causing the nylon net to ripple and sway as the orb sinks through it can make any night terror seemingly disappear from the late night brainspace. Since April we've only been able to fantasize these series of images, causing us to waste company time by watching highlights over and over again on the You-tubes.
Now, we're able to fully satiate the return of college hoops. As of writing this, the Big East Conference is 4-2 on the year, with Georgetown and Marquette delivering disappointing returns by getting beat by inferior opponents. The Creighton Bluejays will look to avoid the fate of the Golden Eagles and Hoyas when they face the Texas Southern Tigers tonight in Omaha. Here's three things to look for tonight:
1. Offensive Prowess
We all know that Creighton loves to shoot threes. What you may not know is that they are also very good at this. Oh, you already knew this? My apologies, your majesty. Look for the sophomore small forward Toby Hegner to get it going early with senior shooting guard James Milliken picking up immediately after him. The Bluejays tend to play fast utilizing a lot of motion to get guys free from three and with a lesser known opponent on the floor the Jays may just be able to beat the Tigers on the ball.
2. Texas Southern's Past Success
As usual, Creighton's SID Rob Anderson had some really good bits of information about today's game. Here's a couple of them:
Last season Texas Southern won at both Michigan State and at Kansas State. They're coached by ex-Indiana coach Mike Davis.— Rob Anderson (@_robanderson) November 12, 2015
Texas Southern is the first team coming off an NCAA Tourney bid to be Creighton's opening opponent in Omaha since San Diego in 2003.— Rob Anderson (@_robanderson) November 12, 2015
Well, I mean, yeah Creighton should be fine, right? Texas Southern plays in the SWAC, a conference in which its members travel all around the country early on in the season to be a bigger program's designated opponent. In the old days, these programs would field mediocre teams and get beat up by superior programs. They'd get their paychecks, return home, and start conference play. Nowadays these programs have a decent amount of funding, have become havens for transfer players who got sick of riding the pines, and are now turning out to be formidable opponents for many schools. Texas Southern went dancing the last two years, getting beat by Cal Poly in the opening round in 2014 then beat by Arizona last year in the second round. The team is led by senior forward Chris Thomas, who averaged 12PPG last year, senior forward Jose Rodriguez who averaged 11PPG last year, and senior forward Malcolm Riley who was the leading scorer in their first matchup against New Mexico, collecting 20 points on 6-10 shooting. The entire team is long, starting 4 forwards 6'5 or taller. Their senior point guard, David Blanks, seems pretty middling as he had a pretty even AST/TO ratio.
3. A Real First Test
As is with every first in life, this game will be the first look at innate capabilities. Through success and failure you're able to find yourself, to get to know yourself, to realize your potential. I do not know what this Creighton basketball team is capable of. This Creighton basketball team may not know what they're capable of, either. With all the new additions to this team it's hard to say exactly if this team has found themselves. The exhibition game gave us a rough sketch of what this team could do, but playing Upper Iowa is like playing Madden on rookie mode. Yeah, sure, you won the game, but did you actually get any satisfaction out of it? Texas Southern is a good opponent to start the year with, a team full of seniors who have lost and won with one another and have pulled off magnificent upsets. Creighton has so many question marks it's like reading a murder mystery by a 14 year old girl who seemingly ends every sentence as if she's asking a question? The Bluejays clearly have the talent, but do they have the imaginary will to win? We'll find out tonight at 8:30pm CT!