NCAA: Creighton To Face Alabama in Greensboro Friday

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

The Creighton Bluejays will face the Alabama Crimson Tide Friday in Greensboro, North Carolina in the NCAA Men's Tournament Midwest Regional, it was announced Sunday.

Tip-off will be at 12:40 p.m. Omaha time and the game will be televised on TBS.

Creighton guaranteed itself a 17th all-time NCAA Tournament bid by winning the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament last Sunday. This will be the Jay's eighth appearance in the last 14 years and 15th-straight postseason appearance.

Alabama is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. The Crimson Tide (21-11) drew a No. 9 seed against the No. 8 Bluejays (28-5). The winner will likely face top-seeded North Carolina.

Alabama had to overcome off-the-court troubles. The Tide went 6-4 after a season-ending suspension of No. 2 scorer and rebounder Tony Mitchell. Star JaMychal Green was then suspended for four games and guards Trevor Releford and Andrew Steele both were held out of one.

Coach Anthony Grant upgraded the non-conference schedule after Alabama didn't make the NCAA field with an identical record and 12 SEC wins last season. The Tide lost 66-63 to Florida in the second round of the SEC Tournament.

Omaha's CenturyLink Center will host games Friday and next Sunday. The opening games feature 30-4 Missouri against 25-9 Norfolk State, Florida (23-10) and Virginia (22-9), Kansas (27-6) facing 22-13 Detroit and St. Mary's (Calif.) (27-5) versus 21-12 Purdue.

Kentucky, Syracuse and North Carolina all earned top seeding despite unexpected losses in their conference tournaments. Michigan State earned the last No. 1 seed and is the only one of the four top-billed teams to win its conference tournament.

Next up, the NCAA Tournament, a 68-team free-for-all that begins with first-round games Tuesday when Mississippi Valley plays Western Kentucky and Iona goes up against BYU. That's the first step en route to the Final Four, which begins March 31st in New Orleans.

Kentucky and Syracuse each enter the tournament with two losses. Both were shoo-ins for top seeds, though losses in their conference tournaments certainly make them look more vulnerable than they did only a week ago.

Iowa State will face UConn in the first round Thursday in Louisville. The Cyclones (22-10) earned a No. 8 seed, their first NCAA Tournament bid in seven years. The Cyclones have never faced Connecticut (20-13), which won the NCAA title last season. The winner of that game would likely face top-seeded Kentucky on Saturday.

Iowa State celebrated its selection to the tournament with a watch party at Hilton Coliseum. A crowd of roughly 1,500 cheered wildly when the Cyclones seed was shown on the scoreboard hanging over center court.

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