How to Watch, Stream, Listen, Follow
Game Time: 7:45pm CT
Location: CenturyLink Center, Omaha, NE
TV: FS1 / FoxSportsGo
Radio: 1620AM the Zone & 101.9FM the KEG in Omaha / 1520AM WWKB in Buffalo
Odds & Ends
Creighton is favored by 19 points according to OddShark.
Over/Under at 157.
If you need help with your blatantly obvious gambling addiction, please click this link or call 402-515-7412.
Verba de Ludis
On what I presume was a cold, windy, and snowy day in Buffalo, New York, on March 1st 1922, the Creighton Hilltoppers played a little game of hoopball against the University of Buffalo Bulls. In this game, the White and Blue managed to put on a blistering offensive performance, downing the boys from Buffalo 36-27. The performance marked the twelfth consecutive win the Hilltoppers earned on their way to a 23-5 season - the best and last under legendary player-coach Charles Kearney’s wistful hand guiding Creighton U.
Coach Kearney’s coaching tenure began abruptly in the 1920-21 season as his predecessor Eddie Mulholland resigned because of a hoopball court he deemed to be “too slick.” The integrity of the court was compromised during a dance the night prior to the Hilltopper’s loss against Des Moines, as Mulholland’s squad had averaged 37 points per game previous to Dancegate and only scored 19 points against Des Moines. Something was certainly amiss in the affair, considering Creighton’s ‘Let it Fly’ mantra was absent for the entire game, especially after walloping Oklahoma 27-16 just a week prior.
Perhaps Mulholland had a point when griping about court conditions, but enough for him to leave his post as squad commander? It’s easy to imagine it could’ve had something to do with the enormous pressure he was under to coach up a team as well as Thomas Mills had in the four years previous to his arrival.
Since Dancegate a lot has changed in the basketball world. Most importantly, however, was the strict guidelines to ensure the hoopball playing surface is always suitable for a game. It may have gone unnoticed, but when Bobby Knight threw a chair across the floor while coaching at Indiana, it was to test the integrity of the court, not to publicly emote his anger. In a famed interview that I just happened to get a hold of, Knight explains this phenomenon:
SBNation: Bobby, why did you throw the chair? Chairs are for sitting, not for throwing.
Bobby Knight: Hello friend, thanks for the question, great question. Agreed that chairs are for sitting, good observation. In all honesty, I was testing the integrity of the court. I saw what appeared to be a bit of a depression near the free throw line and wanted to see if the chair would bounce or slide. It was simply a matter of physics. The world thinks I’m Looney Tunes, but I assure you I am but just a human being trying to use the tools around me to find flaws in the playing surface. A modern day Galileo, if you will.
SBNation: Thank you for your time.
-SBNation, Indiana-Purdue Post Game Thread, 1985
Buffalo comes into this contest with a 4-2 record on the year, with wins over Niagara (76-66), Nazareth (85-38), Alaska-Anchorage (85-79), and Weber State (74-72), as well as losses handed to them by Xavier (86-53) and Nevada (67-62).
Blake Hamilton - 6’6 205lbs - 15.4PPG - 6.4 RPG - 37% FG
Nick Perkins - 6’8 260lbs - 14PPG - 7.8 RPG - 43% FG
Willie Conner - 6’5 200lbs - 13.4PPG - 37% 3FG - 42% FG
It’s pretty clear that this team belongs to Blake Hamilton. The senior wing from Pasadena, California has made his claim as being one of the best wings in the MAC, as he cemented himself in all its MACtion glory with his game winning shot against Akron in the conference championship last season. He’s a prolific shooter who can kick the can from outside the perimeter as well as an ability to score inside. At 6’6 he’s a tough wing to guard, offering opponents a difficult matchup with his speed an athleticism.
Nick Perkins will bang down low with 6’10 235lb sophomore Ikenna Smart, offering a twin towers ordeal and an excellent points in the paint option for when Hamilton tires of shooting the ball. The two work well in tandem, especially considering Perkins’ ability to shoot from the perimeter. On a good night they can clean up the glass and offer 20PPG.
Dontay Caruthers and Davonta Jordan will go to work at point, combining for 6 assists per game from the outside. They’ve split starts so far this season, but both rarely turn the ball over, giving the Bulls a sturdy and reliable option throughout the game.
Willie Conner will be chucking up three pointers, as he mans the tweener two slot. At 6’5 he offers the Bulls a starting lineup with a lot of length, but Conner is prone to turning the ball over as he has a negative +/- in assist to turnover ratio.
What you’ll get in Buffalo is a pretty solid all-around team that can score, yet their inconsistencies can be exploited quite a bit. In their game against Xavier they only managed to put up 53 points - nearly 20 points less than their season average. This came with the Musketeers shutting down Blake Hamilton, which leads one to believe that cutting off the head of the Bull will leave the remainder lifeless. Nick Perkins still got his 15 points, but Hamilton only had 8 - on just 9 attempted field goals.
Xavier also forced the Bulls to turn the ball over 21 times and get them into foul trouble early and often. Buffalo’s interior defense was also tested all game, as they allowed 40 points in the paint.
Stranger things have happened in this sport on this level, so to say that the Jays should walk all over the Bulls would be a farce, especially since Buffalo has seen the class of the BIG EAST already.
Justin Patton/Martin Krampelj will likely take on Ikenna Smart, Cole Huff/Toby Hegner/Ronnie Harrell will likely take on Nick Perkins, Khyri Thomas will square up against Blake Hamilton, Marcus Foster/Isaiah Zierden will cover Willie Conner, and Maurice Watson Jr./Tyler Clement will match up with Davonta Jordan/Dontay Caruthers.
I’m particularly excited about the Khyri-Hamilton match up, considering Khyri’s ability to defend and Hamilton’s ability to score. It should offer Khyri yet another litmus test on high scoring guards that stand a few inches taller than him - a feat in which we know he can accomplish, but the experience he’ll certainly welcome.