After easing past Alabama in the first round, the Creighton Bluejays look to continue their run in the NIT against Wagner, the regular season Northeast Conference champions. The Bluejays find themselves hosting the second round game after No. 1 seed St. Bonaventure fell to Wagner in an upset on Wednesday night. Wagner lost its conference tournament game to Fairleigh Dickinson, who were no challenge for Florida Gulf Coast in the NCAA Tournament earlier this week. The Seahawks come into Saturday's game at CenturyLink Center Omaha hot, having won 8 of their last 9 games.
Creighton will once again be without guard Isaiah Zierden, who has been shut down for the remainder of the season due to injury. The game against Wagner will be Creighton's last home game of the year as both BYU and Virginia Tech would host in the third round should the Bluejays defeat Wagner. This will be Wagner's third game against a Big East opponent this season. The Seahawks lost to both St. John's and Seton Hall in the non-conference season.
How to Watch and Listen
Game time: Noon ET
Radio: 1620 KOZN AM (Creighton)
Three Things to Watch
1. Feed the post
Creighton should be able to capitalize on their size superiority. Wagner does not possess a front court player taller than 6-8. Both Geoffrey Groselle and Zach Hanson stand at 6-10 or larger. The Bluejays made a strong effort to feed the post against Alabama and Wagner can expect the same and perhaps more. Senior Geoffrey Groselle posted a double-double against the Crimson Tide and he might be able to build upon that against the small lineup of the Seahawks on Saturday. However, Creighton's guards can struggle to feed the post at times. But with Wagner's lack of size at even the guard position, Creighton's guards should have troubles passing over their defender into its big men.
2. Khyri Thomas
The Creighton freshman posted his highest point total since December on Tuesday against Alabama. He started in place of the injuried Zierden and it paid off as Thomas played lock down defense against Retin Obasohan, Alabama's all-SEC player. He also excelled on the offensive end as Thomas finished the game with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals. Thomas will likely draw a tough defensive assignment, with two of Wagner's guards averaging nearly 40 percent from the three-point line and the bulk of the Seahawks' points coming from the guard positions. Head coach Greg McDermott highlighted Thomas in his post-game comments, saying the NIT could be most beneficial for a player like Thomas, someone who struggled in the Big East after impressive games in the non-conference season. The hometown kid from Omaha Benson High School will be a key component to next year's team, so an extra home game for Thomas will be a nice added bonus.
The game will be at 11 a.m. local time. Wagner will also have taken a six-hour bus ride just to catch a flight to Omaha. The list of outlying factors goes on. However, both Creighton and Wagner played impressive opening round games, displaying the kind of effort and energy that is sometimes lacking in the NIT. The atmosphere should also be pretty good, with two full days to sell tickets instead of the 36 hours to sell tickets for Tuesday's game vs. Alabama. According to Creighton's athletic department, the last time the Bluejays hosted a game prior to 11:15 a.m. was in 2003 vs. Fresno State in the now defunct BrackBuster series. No. 17 Creighton would go on to win that game 67-66 with NBA veteran Kyle Korver apart of the roster.