Nevada-Creighton to be battle of mid-major powers
BY DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer
Nevada’s loss to Utah State in the Western Athletic Conference semifinals not only cost Nevada a better seed in the NCAA Tournament, but it also dropped the Pack in the national polls.
Nevada, 28-4, dropped from No. 10 to No. 15 in the latest Associated Press poll, and dropped from No. 10 to No. 13 in the US A Today/ESPN poll.
The Wolf Pack is a No. 7 seed in the South Regional, and many people believe that is too low, and even more folks believe that had Nevada reached the finals of the conference tournament their seed would have been better.
Nevada coach Mark Fox knows that Creighton, 22-10, will be a handful. The Bluejays have made 10 straight postseason appearances, a Missouri Valley Conference record. In that span, Creighton has made seven NCAA appearances.
Creighton has a Ratings Percentage Index of 22 and ranks 25th in strength of schedule. The Bluejays have four scorers in double figures – 6-foot-3 guard Nate Funk (17.6 pointers per game), 6-7 center Anthony Tolliver (13.4), 6-3 guard Nick Porter (10.6) and 6-8 forward Dane Watts (10.1). Creighton also allows only 60 points a contest.
Creighton has beaten Louisville and Florida in past first-round matchups and it won the Missouri Valley Conference title against Southern Illinois, which surprisingly received a No. 4 seed. This game is being billed as a clash of the mid-major titans.
“This will be a good match-up,” Nevada forward Nick Fazekas said. “It is definitely going to be a good game. They are tough-nosed, tough-minded and know how to win. I know they have experience, but so do we.”
One thing is certain, Fazekas wants the ball more and he’s not always talking about points. It’s a known fact that the best basketball offense is inside and then outside. The more touches Fazekas gets, the more space it will give Nevada’s perimeter players.
Fazekas only got up three shots, but that doesn’t count the couple of times he got fouled by Utah State. It’s surprising that Nevada went away from Fazekas considering he was 6-of-7 from the floor in the first half and had some very open looks at the basket.
“I hope it changes,” Fazekas said. “Like I’ve said before, me getting shots helps the team, I think. If it doesn’t change, it doesn’t.”
Fazekas, who has averaged a double-double (21 points and 11 rebounds) the entire season, obviously has the attention of Creighton coach Dana Altman.
“Inside, Fazekas obviously gives you a lot of problems,” Altman said. “They are a team that shoots the 3-point shot. It makes it hard to double-down on Fazekas. They are a very good offensive basketball team that averages 77-78 (points), which is 10 more than what we usually give up. They are really balanced.”
• Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281
NEVADA (28-4) vs. CREIGHTON (22-10)
When: Friday, Noon
Where: New Orleans Arena (18,000)
TV/Radio: CBS/ESPN Radio 630 AM
Series history: 3-3
Prediction: Nevada by 3