OMAHA, Neb. — It’s the time of year where teams unveil their 2017-18 schedules, and what a time it is.
Some teams release their full schedules, while some release just their non-conference slates as they await their conference pairings for the upcoming season. Regardless, it means that the upcoming season is getting closer with each passing day.
While the vast majority of teams haven’t released their schedules, fans are able to catch a glimpse of what theirs could look like through the release of others. Especially for fans of smaller schools, like the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks, schedule releases from power programs could yield a potential upset opportunity.
On Tuesday, the Creighton Bluejays took to Twitter to release their non-conference schedule. One of the games is against the aforementioned Hawks, and will take place in Omaha, Nebraska on December 15th.
The game marks the first time that the Bluejays and Hawks have squared off.
Creighton is coming off a 2016-17 season that saw them start the year with a perfect 13-0 record. Star guard Maurice Watson, Jr. went down with injury midway through the year, and the Bluejays were never the same.
They finished the season at 25-10, and were upset in the Round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament by the 11-seed Rhode Island Rams, 84-72.
Greg McDermott and the Bluejays will be without Watson and star forward Justin Patton, who was a first-round selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. However, they return leading scorer Marcus Foster, who averaged 18.2 points per contest last season.
Guard Khyri Thomas and forward Toby Hegner are both back to help lead the Bluejays in 2017-18.
Maryland-Eastern Shore advanced to the MEAC semi-finals in 2016-17, falling to the eventual champion North Carolina Central Eagles, 77-49.
The Hawks finished the year with an overall record of 14-20, and 9-7 in conference play.
Head coach Bobby Collins will be without the services of forward Bakari Copeland, who led the team in scoring (17.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.2 rpg) a season ago. Fortunately, Collins returns the players ranked two through five in terms of scoring last season.
Guards Ryan Andino and Logan McIntosh will be tasked with leading the team on offense, while now-sophomore forward Tyler Jones will look to take a big step forwards in his development as his minutes are due to increase.
While Creighton will enter the game as the favourites, they cannot afford to overlook the Hawks. Three days later, the Bluejays welcome the ever-talented UT-Arlington Mavericks to town, a team who hasn’t been too kind to power conference foes over the past two seasons.
– T. Bennett