For the second consecutive season,
The Blue Jays and Blue Devils clash Sunday here after Friday victories over
"They're just talented at every spot," Merfeld said of Duke. "Teams that usually can put five guys on the floor that can score have given us problems in the past. If there's a guy we can play off of, we can scheme some things (defensively). … We're going to have to play at a really high level."
When the NCAA announces the tournament bracket, head coaches designate assistants to scout possible later-round opponents. Last year, Creighton head coach Greg
Carolina won the game 87-73 with all five starters scoring in double-figures. Creighton returns four starters from that team, the lone newcomer to the lineup sophomore point guard Austin Chatman.
Last Sunday, McDermott assigned Merfeld to scout Duke. He spent much of the week watching tape, and Friday afternoon he sat courtside as the Blue Devils defeated Albany 73-61. Creighton then defeated Cincinnati 67-63 behind 27 points and 11 rebounds by All-America forward Doug McDermott, the head coach's son.
"I thought we defended very well," Merfeld said of the Cincinnati win. "Obviously it will be a lot different game plan against Duke, but our guys have been able to adjust from one game to the next. …
"We won a game last year in the tournament (over Alabama). Our goal since the start of the season has been to go one game farther. It's within reach now. All that hard to prepare, and now you have to take advantage of the opportunity."
Creighton ranks first nationally in 3-point shooting (40.8) and second in overall field goal percentage (50.6). The 6-foot-8 McDermott and 6-7 Ethan Wragge give the Blue Jays two big men capable of shooting the three and stretching defenses.
The two combined to make 6-of-9 threes Friday.
“Their bigs are obviously very talented,” Merfeld said of Duke’s
Creighton (28-7) has never advanced more than one round in an NCAA tournament. Duke (28-5) has reached 11 Final Fours and won four national titles under
“It’s an awesome opportunity,” said Merfeld, who coached Hampton to a 2001 NCAA upset of Iowa State. “The timing’s good, with us leaving the Missouri Valley (Conference) and going to the
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