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Creighton Holds Off Cincinnati, MSU, Lousiville Looks to Avoid Upsets

The Midwest region dodged upsets in Friday’s play as #2 Duke defeated #15 Albany, 73-61 and #7 Creighton beat #10 Cincinnati 67-63. Both match ups provided good play and the winning teams had to work hard to get it done.

In the Duke game, Seth Curry led in scoring with 26 points (10 for 14 shooting), followed by Mason Plumlee’s 23 points (9 for 11 shooting, six dunks). Quinn Cook added 11 assists and for the game, Duke had 58.7 percent shooting (27 for 46).

Duke led throughout the game but Albany came within eight points with under five minutes remaining. For the Blue Devils, last year’s second round loss against Lehigh was looming they weren’t going to make it a second straight year to have a two and out.

Peter Hooley led in scoring for Albany with 13 points while Sam Rowley and Mike Black both added 10 points.

On Sunday, Duke will play Creighton.

The Bluejays had a more difficult time on Friday defeating Cincinnati. The Bearscats lagged by eight points in the second half but came within one at 64-63 with 17 second remaining. Austin Chatman hit two free throws at the end for Creighton, sealing the win.

Creighton's Doug McDermott

Creighton’s Doug McDermott

Doug McDermott, the Wooden Award candidate, was the game’s MVP as he led Creighton in scoring with his 27 points.

He was clutch at the free throw line (hitting 11 vs. Cincinnati’s nine attempts) and his teammates Gregory Echenique added 13 points and Ethan Wragge contributed 12 points for the Bluejays who underwent 30 percent shooting in the game’s second 20 minutes.

For Creighton, Sunday’s game represents its second straight year to make the third round.

As a #7 seed, they’re 33 to 1 to win it all vs. Duke’s #2 seed at 3 to 1.

This should be a great game and I’d put the Blue Devils on upset alert if Creighton continues playing hot.

For Saturday’s games, #3 Michigan State plays #6 Memphis. It’s hard to bet against Tom Izzo but after this year’s tournament upsets, anything can happen. The veteran coach has 38 NCAA tournament wins and for its second game of the tourney, he had a 17-3 record.

To make it interesting, this game will include a match up of the guards: MSU’s Keith Appling vs. Memphis’ Joe Jackson.

Keith Appling

MSU’s Keith Appling

Izzo said of the two players via ESPN, “Whenever you got two good quarterbacks, it’s pivotal. Ours is playing better and theirs has been playing well and they’re both kind of alike. They’re both jitterbug guards, both the same size. They can really push the ball, use ball screens. … Him and Joe ought to be worth the price of admission.”

Appling has been playing well lately and in Thursday’s 65-54 win over Valparaiso, he scored 15 points (three 3-pointers). In his previous game, he had a season-high four 3-pointers with 16 points.

Then there’s Jackson who scored 14 points in the team’s two-point win against Saint Mary’s on Thursday. He also had seven assists with six rebounds. In his previous game, Jackson had 22 points, helping his team beat Southern Miss to win the team’s third straight Conference USA tournament championship.

Michigan State has been playing well and will continue to do so as they get the winning nod (-5.5, 130.5).

In the region’s second game, #1 Louisville takes on #8 Colorado State.

For Louisville’s coach Rick Pitino, he finds teams challenging when they’re loaded with seniors and Colorado State fits this bill with five of them.

But the Cardinals are a very talented team themselves and in their opening game against North Carolina A&T on Thursday, they set a NCAA tournament record with 20 steals. The team also had a second-high for turnovers (27) with 67 deflections.

They’ll face a more challenging team on Saturday as Colorado State has 40 rebounds per game. They’ll need to keep their eyes on Colton Iverson who outrebounded Missouri 13-11.

The Rams know they’re up against a tough team but they’ve had some time to prepare. Unfortunately, the winning nod goes to the Cardinals (-11, 134.5 o/u).



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