Team Profile: 2008 BracketBuster Preview: Creighton vs Oral Roberts

by Kyle Winchester | February 21st, 2008

Television: Saturday, February 23, 2008, 3:00pm EST – ESPN2One of the original concepts of the BracketBuster series was to provide exposure to mid-major schools that do not otherwise get it. Many schools have benefited from said exposure over the last few years, as bracket gurus and average fans alike have tuned in to check out potential Cinderellas a few weeks early.

Both Creighton and Oral Roberts have become more familiar faces across the country, in part due to the BracketBuster extravaganza. However, each program has furthered its exposure by following up BracketBuster appearances with trips to their respective conference tournament finals (both of which are of course televised) and the NCAA Tournament. Oral Roberts has made the Big Dance the past two seasons, Creighton two of the past three. As a result, America is gradually learning more about the high level of basketball played by these schools and their peers.

Creighton Bluejays
Overall Record: 18-8
Conference Record: 9-7 (T-4, MVC)
Key Wins: DePaul, Nebraska, St. Joseph’s, Southern Illinois
Key Losses: at Xavier, at Indiana St, at Bradley

Team Summary
The Creighton Bluejays are led by Head Coach Dana Altman, who spurned the University of Arkansas to return to his job in Omaha. A BCS-conference school turned down for a BracketBuster gig? But of course.

Altman has gradually built a solid mid-major program over his tenure in Omaha. This year’s squad is young and has been searching for replacements for last year’s vital seniors. Instead of looking to just one player, Coach Altman has stressed balance to his team.

Freshman P’Allen Stinnett currently leads the team in scoring at 12.2 points/game. A highly talented player, Stinnett has improved his decision-making and shot selection as the year has progressed. Dane Watts, a senior post player, anchors the inside for the Bluejays. Watts leads the team in rebounding and shoots 52% from the field.

As a team, Creighton shoots 45% from the floor and 38% behind the three-point arc. The Bluejays have struggled taking care of the basketball, averaging nearly 15 turnovers/game. Creighton has also had a tough time rebounding the basketball in a number of losses this year. When this team takes care of the basketball, they are efficient scoring the ball and defend well enough to challenge most NCAA-caliber teams in the country.

Oral Roberts Golden Eagles
Overall Record: 19-6
Conference Record: 14-1 (1st, Summit)
Key Wins: at Oklahoma St, vs IUPUI, Oakland (2)
Key Losses: at Texas, at Texas A&M, at Arkansas, at Utah StateTeam Summary
Oral Roberts’ coach Scott Sutton has quietly captained a consistently good program in his nine years on the job. Sutton is second in school history with 144 victories and has captured three Summit League (formerly the Mid-Continent Conference) regular-season titles.

His Golden Eagles, circa 2008, are paced in scoring by JUCO transfer Robert Jarvis. An All-American at Seminole State College, Jarvis has stepped in and lit up the scoreboard from day one. Jarvis notched a career-high 34 points in a huge road win at Southern Utah and has been the go-to scorer for the Golden Eagles this year.

Moses Ehambe, Shawn King, and Adam Liberty all average double-figures for ORU, with King and Liberty leading the team in rebounding and assists respectively. Overall, ORU likes to keep the game fairly slow (averages 70 points/game) and moves the basketball well. Sutton stresses tough defense and full-effort, which probably define his program (and this team) more than any statistic.

The Big Picture
Both Creighton and Oral Roberts will have to win their league tournaments to make the NCAA Tournament. Neither has done enough outside of league play to warrant a serious look from the selection committee in a few weeks, and neither league has a high enough RPI to register at-large bids at this point. A BracketBuster win would look nice on the resume for both teams post-season hopes, however, as NIT and College Basketball Invitational possibilities remain. The hope for both of these teams is a run through their respective league tournaments in March to garner an automatic NCAA Tournament bid. If that is the case, a BracketBuster victory would help seeding for each.A defensive struggle seems in the works in a contest that will not be short on intensity. Both programs have experience in March and know what it takes to succeed on a bigger stage. Though Oral Roberts has an experienced, more explosive team, this seems like a perfect game for Creighton to rally behind its defense and really lock down its opponent. Locking down ORU will be vital, as this would help neutralize the Golden Eagles’ home court advantage. In the end, Creighton prevails on the road behind stellar defense.

Prediction: Creighton 65, ORU 61

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