St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - Just eight days after these two squared off to decide the Missouri Valley Conference regular season champion, the second- seeded Wichita State Shockers and Creighton Bluejays will battle again, this time for an automatic berth into the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Although only the winner earns the automatic bid to the Big Dance, there is a strong possibility both of these squads end up participating in March Madness after Arch Madness.
The MVC regular-season championship came down to the finale between these two teams. Creighton took the crown with a 91-79 victory as Doug McDermott poured in 41 points and the team shot 70.2 percent from the floor to mark the nation's sixth-best clip this season. The outburst made McDermott the only player on a Division I school's roster with more than 700 points at the end of the regular season.
Carl Hall recorded 16 points and eight rebounds as the Wichita State defeated the Illinois State Redbirds, 66-51, in the semifinal round on Saturday. Malcolm Armstead tallied 15 points and nine boards for the Shockers, who used a 48-31 edge in the rebounding battle to book their ticket to the title game. Fresh after being anointed the MVC Coach of the Year, Gregg Marshall appears to have his squad poised for an NCAA Tournament run after it was knocked out in the first round a year ago.
Doug McDermott went 8-of-10 from the floor and 6-of-7 from beyond the arc to score 25 points as the top-seeded Bluejays coasted to a 64-43 victory over the Indiana State on Saturday. The MVC Player of the Year also grabbed nine boards while center Gregory Echenique chipped in 10 points. Creighton now looks to claim its second consecutive trophy from Arch Madness with the All-American leading the way.
On the season, Wichita State pours in just shy of 70 ppg, but the biggest reason for its success and likely selection to the NCAA Tournament has been its stout defense, which is the top-ranked unit in the MVC in allowing just 60.8 ppg. Cleanthony Early is the team's top scorer with 14.0 ppg, while Hall nets 12.8 ppg on 55.8 percent from the field to go with 7.2 rpg. Armstead does a lot from the point guard position with 9.8 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.5 rpg and 1.9 spg, while Demetric Williams chips in 8.5 ppg.
Creighton scores an MVC best 75.6 ppg, and its field-goal percentages (.510) ranks first in the nation. McDermott is making a strong case for National Player of the Year, as he nets 23.4 ppg with outstanding percentages from the field (.565), 3-point range (.507) and the foul line (.869, while also ripping down 7.6 ppg. Echenique has been impressive in the paint at both ends of the floor, logging 9.6 ppg (on 66.7 percent from the field), 6.6 rpg and 1.6 bpg. Ethan Wragge, the conference's Sixth Man of the Year, has excellent shooting touch which keeps defenses honest.