For What it’s Worth-- on this January 19
Creighton-Wichita State is one of the best rivalries that nobody knows about. Between Omaha and Wichita this season some 28,000 will watch these two teams fight each other. Anyone who doesn’t think college hoops aren’t a contact sport needs to see this game.
Over the last ten years Creighton and Wichita State are the two biggest winners in the Missouri Valley Conference. In that time the two have combined to win or finish second in the league ten times. Twelve of their 22 games have been decided by six points or less, eight have been by three or fewer. Each is the measure of the other, that their mutual respect is begrudging makes it all the more interesting.
Creighton comes into the game winners of 11 straight; they’ve won six road games in a row. Wichita State owns the nation’s eighth longest home winning streak at 17 games. Their last loss at home? Creighton last year.
Shocker fans have to be concerned about Doug McDermott, even though they haven’t had top been in two previous seasons. One of the leading contenders for National Player of the Year has yet to breakout against the Shockers. In four games he’s averaging 10.8 points, with his peak production at 13 points. Of course, that’s when the Shockers had Ben Smith and Toure Murry to deal with him. It will be interesting to see how Gregg Marshall deals with the 6’8” junior. Tekele Cotton is Wichita State’s most physical defender, but at 6’3 he gives up 5 inches to the Creighton Star.
The stars at night---
Kansas travels to Texas where they always seem to have issues. The Longhorns have won three of the last four against the ‘Hawks on its home floor. Of course, being good had something to do with those wins; this isn’t one of Rick Barnes better teams.
One degree of separation—
Over the next week interesting trilogy, of sorts, plays out. This afternoon in Manhattan Oklahoma coached by former Illinois mentor Lon Kruger will face former Illinois Coach Bruce Weber, now of K-State. Then, on Tuesday, Weber hosts former Illinois Coach Bill Self now of Kansas. A week from today the triangle is completed when Self visits Kruger in Norman. Talk about a small world, the last three coaches from Illinois facing each other in three consecutive games.
What about KSU-OU?
It’s a ‘keep up’ game in the Big 12, where the Sooners and Wildcats start the weekend tied atop the conference at 3-0 with KU. While most are giving decent odds on Kansas running the table for their ninth straight title, the winner of this one takes the early lead in the second rung of the conference. Interestingly, both play the Jayhawks on their home floors next week. Sooner Coach Lon Kruger, a former K-State player and coach, just won his 500th career game. With stops at Pan American, K-State, Florida, Illinois, the Atlanta Hawks, UNLV and now OU he’s a bit nomadic. But, save for the NBA, he’s won everywhere he’s gone.
The new Nike ad featuring Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy is better than both of their golf games right now. Neither of them played well in Dubai this week, but they will. That budding rivalry has a chance to be one of the best in sports and it’s what Tiger needs to push him back towards the top of the game.
I’m taking the two favorites—San Francisco and New England. How uninteresting would an Atlanta-Baltimore Super Bowl be? Super indeed—ha.
See you on Monday, have a great weekend.