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Creighton advances past Cincinnati, has a shot to take down Duke

Mar 22, 2013, 6:06 PM EDT

Creighton v Cincinnati Getty Images

There’s a reason that we call him Dougie McBuckets.

Creighton’s all-american forward was too much for No. 10 seed Cincinnati on Friday afternoon, finishing with 27 points and 11 boards on 7-15 shooting as the No. 7 Bluejays outlasted the Bearcats 67-63.

This game was one of the more intriguing matchups of the tournament, as Cincinnati is a staunch defensive team that cannot score the ball with Creighton is a sharp-shooting, crisp offensive team that seems averse to defense at times. In the end, the scoring one, as Creighton got enough stops to push their lead to 52-44 late in the second half, holding on as the Bearcats made a final push.

Creighton will advance to take on No. 2 seed Duke, and I’ll be honest, I think that the Bluejays actually have a chance to pull off this upset.

The key?

Greg Echenique, Creighton’s burly, 6-foot-9 center.

Echenique is as big and as physical as any center in the country, and he’s perfectly fine playing the role as strictly a rebounder and a defender. Mason Plumlee may be a first round NBA draft pick, but he’s not going to have an easy go of it trying to post up Echenique.

The reason that Ryan Kelly is such a valuable commodity for Duke is that he allows the Blue Devils to make people pay for double-teaming Plumlee. They move the ball so well as a team that a double-team almost always is going to result in an open jump shot for someone, whether that be Kelly or Seth Curry or Quinn Cook or Rasheen Sulaimon.

If Echenique can slow Plumlee down in the post, Creighton won’t have to leave those shooters open. It’s exactly what Maryland did with Alex Len in the two games that they beat the Blue Devils. Now, whether or not McDermott is going to be able to matchup with Kelly or anyone on Creighton’s perimeter is going to be able to keep Sulaimon or Cook from penetrating is a different story entirely. Kelly also happens to be a perfect matchup for McDermott on the defensive end of the floor, so there’s no guaranteeing that stopping Plumlee will earn Creighton a win.

But Echenique’s presence will given them a chance.

And if Creighton has one of these nights, they’ll be on their way through to the second weekend.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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