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The South Region saw a pair of massive upsets, but the No. 6 seed Creighton Bluejays (22-12, 17-17-0 ATS) and No. 3 seed Baylor Bears (23-10, 17-15-1 ATS) both won and covered in their NCAA Tournament openers. Now, a trip to the Sweet 16 is at stake for these talented programs. They are one of two games in Ball Arena on Sunday, and they'll get the party started at 7:10 p.m. EST. Let's see which side will successfully punch their ticket to Louisville next weekend.
A career day from Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner proved to be plenty, as the Bluejays used a second-half surge sparked by him to beat NC State 72-63. Kalkbrenner had a career-high (and Creighton NCAA Tournament record) 31 points, along with seven rebounds and three blocks. They had an uncharacteristic shooting performance from beyond the arc, but imposing defense and paint presence carried them into the Second Round.
It wasn't all sunshine though, as bench piece Mason Miller got injured in the first half and is questionable for this game. The Bluejays' depth was already pretty thin.
??Career high points for @RyanKalkbrenner#GoJays x #Marcadness pic.twi tter.com/Oj0XPwTst3
— Creighton Men's Basketball (@BluejayMBB) March 17, 2023
Creighton is the lower seed but is actually above Baylor in KenPom's ratings at 13. Their defense is 14th in adjusted efficiency, led by holding their foes to 42.0% shooting this season, ranking 75th in that department. Only two schools nationwide allowed opponents to take fewer free throws than Creighton, and both of those schools lost in the First Round.
Offensively, Creighton is 29th in KenPom's adjusted efficiency ratings. Free throws can make or break a season, and the Bluejays are 18th in the country in free throw percentage at 77.2%. They shoot 46.7% from the field, which is 55th.
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