OMAHA, Neb. — Five games against NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, including a visit to runner-up Gonzaga and a pair of games in Kansas City at the 2017 Hall of Fame Classic, highlight the Creighton men’s basketball non-conference schedule for 2017-18 that was announced Tuesday by head coach Greg McDermott.
McDermott’s eighth season on The Hilltop begins with a Nov. 3 exhibition game against UNC Pembroke, a Division II team that won the regular-season and tournament titles in the Peach Belt Conference. Eldon Miller, who coached McDermott during his playing days at Northern Iowa, is a volunteer assistant to his son at UNCP, head coach Ben Miller.
The regular-season gets underway with home games on Nov. 10 (Yale) and Nov. 12 (Alcorn State) as part of the 2017 Hall of Fame Classic. Creighton has won 22 straight home openers & 19-of-20 season-openers.
The Bluejays hit the road for the first time on Nov. 15 with a Gavitt Tipoff Games contest against Northwestern. The tilt will take place at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., where Creighton has won each of the last four seasons against DePaul, as on-campus renovations to NU’s longtime home of Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston take place. Creighton is 11-1 in its last 12 games against Big Ten schools, including 10 double-figure victories.
Creighton treks down I-29 on Nov. 20 and Nov. 21 for games in Kansas City, Mo., as part of the 2017 Hall of Fame Classic. ESPN will announce pairings later this month in a field that also includes Baylor, UCLA and Wisconsin.
CU returns home on Nov. 25 to welcome SIU Edwardsville in the first meeting between the schools.
A highly-anticipated home-and-home series with Gonzaga tips off on Dec. 1 in Spokane, Wash. The Bulldogs have been to 19 straight NCAA Tournaments and own the nation’s best record since 2010-11 (212-40), including a 37-2 mark a year ago. The Zags will be Creighton’s first game against a team coming off a national runner-up finish since a win over Indiana State in 1980.
Creighton’s final five non-conference games will be at home, starting with a Dec. 5 game against defending Big Sky Conference Tournament champion North Dakota. McDermott got his coaching start at UND, where he was an assistant from 1989-94.
The Bluejays will meet Nebraska for the 41st straight season when the clubs square off on Dec. 9 in Omaha. Creighton has won six straight games by double-digits against its in-state rival, and 10 consecutive regular-season home games over the Cornhuskers.
Creighton meets Maryland Eastern Shore for the first time on Dec. 15 before hosting UT Arlington on Dec. 18. The Mavericks reached the quarterfinals of the NIT last year and own road wins over Ohio State, Memphis, BYU, Saint Mary’s and Texas in the last two seasons.
Creighton’s final non-conference game will be on Dec. 20 in its first match-up with USC Upstate.
“It’s a great schedule,” said McDermott. “Maybe one of the most difficult ones that we’ve had in my tenure at Creighton.”
The Bluejays still have one non-conference opening on its schedule and will announce that opponent at a later date.
The BIG EAST Conference schedule will once again be a double round-robin, giving Creighton 12 more games against NCAA Tournament competition. That slate is likely to be released with start times and television coverage for all games in early September.
Creighton returns nine lettermen and two starters from last year’s team that finished 25-10 and tied for third in the BIG EAST Conference.