OMAHA, Nebraska – The Div. I eighth-ranked Creighton University men’s basketball team has been drawing national attention all season as one of the most high-caliber teams in all of college basketball. One of their most recent games drew even more attention and had everyone asking, “Who in the world is Truman State University?”
When the Truman men’s basketball team traveled to Omaha, Nebraska last Saturday, it was not a question of if they would win or lose, but how bad they would lose. Still, there’s always a chance, right?
The analytics website KenPom.com gave the Bluejays a 100 percent chance of beating Truman in the match. That’s right, statistically, there was a zero percent chance of Truman beating Creighton and another great likelihood the ‘Dogs would be overpowered straight from the tipoff.
So why play the game?
Truman Head Coach Chris Foster said for Creighton, it was in large part out of desperation and necessity to their schedule. Participating in the Big East Conference, Creighton and the nine other Big East teams were scheduled for contests as a part of a Martin Luther Kind Jr. Day marathon.
Foster said the Bluejays were set to have the day off on Saturday, giving plenty of time for rest before heading into their marathon opponent, Xavier University. Xavier didn’t have this luxury of recovery and prep time, however, because they had a game scheduled for Saturday. Recognizing a possible advantage, Foster said the Big East sought to even the playing field. Creighton Head Coach Greg McDermott was left with a time crunch and a Saturday afternoon to fill the CenturyLink Center — Truman filled that spot.
Pregame coverage of the matchup included a lot of talk about Creighton’s schedule. However, perhaps more notable is the schedule the Truman squad endured on the weekend. Like most teams in the NCAA, the ‘Dogs spent winter break fully immersed in conference play. Truman hosted two top-notch GLVC opponents before making the trip to Omaha Friday night. The ‘Dogs fell 111-89 to No. 10 Southern Indiana University on Thursday, but bounced back for a high-paced, comeback victory over No. 9 Bellarmine University Friday afternoon.
Foster said the ‘Dogs boarded the bus for Creighton immediately following Friday’s win and arrived in Omaha just before midnight. Just ten hours later, Truman was back in the locker room prepping for their third game in 41 hours.
A Valuable Experience
Foster said there were so many benefits to the Creighton game — financially and from an experience standpoint — that there was never a question as to whether or not the challenge would be worth it.
Financially? Yes, set aside the perks of competition and experience — Foster said the Truman men’s program received $35,000 for braving their Div. I competitor.
This amount of money is sure to soften the blow of any loss, but even though the final score suggested a blowout, in front of a packed house, the ‘Dogs actually came out with a fight that perhaps no one expected. Heading into halftime, Truman trailed by only 11 points to the No. 8 team in all of college basketball.
“I thought we played well,” Foster said. “Creighton played some different lineups too which kind of affected them, but we did too. We usually play eight or nine guys, and once we got over the awe of the big stage, we did some really good things. We played in front of 200 people Friday and about 17,500 on Saturday. Once we got adjusted to that, we played some really good basketball.”