Creighton is back in the NCAA’s for the first time since 2018
NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Creighton men’s basketball team is returning to the NCAA Tournament for the 22nd time in program history and sixth time in the past 10 years after earning an at-large bid to 2021 Men’s Basketball Championship. The fifth-seeded Bluejays will meet 12th-seeded UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, March 20 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. The game will tip at 2:30 p.m. Central and be televised on truTV.
This year marks Creighton’s 22nd postseason bid in the last 24 seasons, which includes 13 NCAA Tournament bids in that span. The Bluejays have won at least one game in nine of its last 11 postseason appearances. This will be Creighton’s third straight trip to the NCAA’s via an at-large bid. CU is 12-22 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and in search of its first NCAA victory since 2014.
Creighton enters the NCAA Tournament with a 20-8 record after finishing in second place in the BIG EAST Conference in both the regular-season and league tournament. This year’s club featured three All-BIG EAST choices for the first time since joining the league in 2013. Junior guard Marcus Zegarowski (15.5 ppg., 4.4 apg.) leads the team in scoring and assists and was a First Team All-BIG EAST honoree. Senior forward Damien Jefferson (12.1 ppg., 5.5 rpg.) is second on the team in rebounding and steals (34) and was a Second Team All-BIG EAST pick. Senior guard Denzel Mahoney (12.5 ppg.) tops CU with 39 steals and was an Honorable Mention All-BIG EAST selection. CU also boasts the BIG EAST leader in field goal percentage in Christian Bishop (.672) and three-pointers made Mitch Ballock (72).
Creighton is coached by Greg McDermott, who owns a 250-124 record in 11th year with the Bluejays. This year marks his ninth trip to the NCAA Tournament at the Division I level, including trips to the third-round in 2012, 2013 and 2014 with Creighton.
UCSB is 22-4 on the season and earned the automatic bid from the Big West Conference. JaQuori McLaughlin (16.2 ppg.) leads the team in scoring and assists (5.2) per game, while Amadou Sow (13.7 ppg., 7.6 rpg.) provides a post presence inside. UCSB averages 76.5 points per game and holds teams to 62.8 per contest. This will be the first NCAA Tournament appearance for the Gauchos since 2011.
Creighton is 1-1 all-time against UC Santa Barbara, winning 75-61 in 1975 and losing 83-81 the following season.
The winner of Saturday’s Creighton/UCSB game will meet the winner of the game between fourth-seeded Virginia and 13th-seeded Ohio on Monday. The entire 2021 NCAA Tournament will be held in the greater Indianapolis area.
COURTESY CREIGHTON ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS