Home Illustration March Madness: Creighton seeks unlikely upset against South Carolina

March Madness: Creighton seeks unlikely upset against South Carolina

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Creighton hopes to overcome height disadvantage with offensive firepower against South Carolina

Friday night, before No. 10 Creighton knocked out No. 3 Iowa State, the Bluejays took a few moments to look at the program that would await them if they won: South Carolina. The No. 1 seed overall was on the court for the first game of the night in Greensboro, North Carolina, and it was just as impressive as advertised, especially with his power in the post. Aliyah Boston.

There was only one takeaway for Creighton:

“We all seemed so smallBluejays coach Jim Flanery said of his team versus South Carolina. “Their post players, it will be different. We will have our work cut out for us.

He wasn’t wrong. Much of this work centers on Boston, perhaps the most dominant player in the country. At 6’5″, she makes opponents feel every inch of her presence in the paint. (There’s a reason she’s led the nation in wins this season.) But there’s also Victaria’s power Saxton, who is 6’2″ and the bench threat of Kamilla Cardoso, who is 6’7″. This creates a noticeable size disadvantage for the Bluejays, whose roster peaks at 6’1″, with the striker Emma Ronsiek.

So is there any chance for Creighton?

The team would like to think so. Yes, that’s a double-digit seed that punches above its weight in the Elite Eight. But it’s also an extremely capable offense that has proven itself in previous rounds. These Bluejays can be very hard to spot: They have a lot of depth, and with a five-out offense, their movement is hard to anticipate. There’s a reason they’ve come this far in the tournament. Their ball movement is staggering – they have the best assisted shot rate in the nation – and they have a quick setup from the perimeter that can be difficult to set up.

“There aren’t necessarily, you know, cookie-cutter plays that we play,” Flanery said. “It’s more of a random action. So I think it’s harder to spot.

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Can they really beat South Carolina? The odds are against them. There’s a reason these Gamecocks have been the best team in the land: their defense is impeccable. There is no better rebounding team in the country. Boston is a remarkable talent that’s nearly impossible to contain, and its supporting cast only makes it harder, with players like Saxton and goaltender Destanni Henderson. Still, Creigton’s offense still has the potential to push South Carolina — with a deep bench, playing at a fast pace and with the ability to move the ball anywhere on the floor, he’s a serious powerhouse to contend with.

“They’ve got some great offensive sets that we’re trying to prepare for,” South Carolina guard Zia Cooke said. “We just know the defense is what’s going to win the game for us.”

Creighton shouldn’t beat No. 1 South Carolina, technically speaking. Still, Creighton shouldn’t have beaten No. 7 Colorado or No. 2 Iowa or No. 3 Iowa State. And it always was.

“At this point, every team we’re playing against is really good, it’s just the seeding that’s different,” junior forward Carly Bachelor said. ‘So I think – I just try to keep that mindset.’We have come this far. Why not us ?

ICYM…

• North Carolina State had lost three straight in the Sweet 16. Ben Pickman explains how an adjustment in philosophy and veteran leaders helped the Wolfpack finally break into the Elite Eight.

• Villanova overtook Arkansas for another Final Four appearance. Greg Bishop writes about how the stable nature of the Wildcats, led by Jay Wright, helped them to victory.

• UConn returned to the Elite Eight. Ben Pickman on the Huskies’ solid loss to Indiana and what it means for Geno Auriemma’s team’s title hopes.

Games to watch

No. 8 UNC vs. No. 15 St. Pierre: The Peacocks are the history of the tournament, and they hope their fairy tale run can stretch all the way to New Orleans. They’ll go for a fourth straight upset, this time against Hubert Davis’ Tar Heels, who got hot at the right time. The winner has a date in the Final Four with Coach K’s Duke waiting backstage.
5:05 p.m. ET, CBS

No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 2 Texas: November’s down-to-the-wire contest rematch is sure to produce Elite Eight fireworks. The Longhorns beat the Cardinal in Palo Alto in the first round, but Stanford have only lost two games since. Can the Lighting strike twice for Texas, or will the Cardinal continue through the NCAA Tournament?
9 p.m. ET, ESPN