Duke’s win over Albany was the Curry and Plumlee show. They rolled over Albany like a monster truck entering the Daytona 500. However, their second orund opponent faced a worthy challenge.
Next season, Creighton, a Jesuit school in Omaha, Nebraska will join the new Catholic 7/Big East spinoff. Creighton won’t officially shed its mid-major shell until July 1, but Thursday afternoon's win over Cincy was an opening salvo. In their 63-67 win over the Big East refugees, Creighton took care of business and had Duke on their toes.
Need further proof (besides FGCU) that the line of demarcation between mid-majors and major conferences has blurred?
The Bearcats were one of the most athletic defenses in the nation. It didn’t matter. Doug McDermott couldn’t jump over a phone book, but he shot the lights out. McDermott had a field day in the post, from behind the arc and from the charity stripe. McDermott’s final tally: 7-for-15 from the field, 2-for-4 from downtown and a perfect 11-for-11 at the free throw line.
Cincy’s shot blocking prowess and defensive intensity are one of its strengths, but it was their downfall as they bailed Creighton out on play after play with silly fouls and reaching in fouls. While the Bearcats were just 4-for-9 at the line, Creighton made 22 of their 25 free throw attempts.
The defensive intensity takes a step back on Sunday when Creighton meets Duke for a trip to the Final Four on the line. Mason Plumlee is Duke’s best post defender, but he can’t keep up with McDermott when he steps outside the paint. Nobody on Duke's roster can. Duke should have learned from Lehigh last March. McDermott and Creighton aren't going to hand anything to the Blue Devils. Ryan Kelly had a quiet afternoon against Albany, but he'll need to have trigger finger ready to keep up with the hot-shooting McDermott.