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No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 11 NC State preview for March Madness First Round matchup

No. 6 Creighton and No. 11 NC State face off in the First Round of the 2023 NCAA tournament. We’ve got an initial preview of the game and how to watch.

Creighton Bluejays head coach Greg McDermott talks with Creighton Bluejays guard Ryan Nembhard (2) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Xavier Musketeers during the semifinal round of the Big East Conference tournament, Friday, March 10, 2023, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Xavier Creighton Big East Basketball Tournament March 10 0559 Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The NCAA Tournament begins on Tuesday, March 14th with the First Four, and then moves on to the First Round on Thursday, March 16 and Friday, March 17. The No. 6 seed Creighton BlueJays will face the No. 11 seed NC State Wolfpack on Friday, March 17.

Here’s an early look at what we can expect from the matchup.

Game date: Friday, March 17
Game time: 3:50 p.m. ET
TV channel: TNT
Location: Denver, Colorado

Odds: Creighton -5.5

No. 6 Creighton

The Creighton Bluejays have always competitive in the Big East, and finished the regular season in third place in the conference. Their balanced scoring attack, centered around their three guards and center, Ryan Kalkbrenner, has allowed them to avoid long scoring droughts and hang tough in games against similarly talented opponents.

This team could be scary as they’ve shown an ability to get hot for an extended period of time: they won eight straight conference games earlier this season, including three victories over ranked opponents. The Bluejays also rebound really well, averaging 37.5 boards per game, a whopping 16.4 of which come from their top-three guards. Come tournament time, second chances are vital, which makes Creighton’s ability to score in and outside the paint while controlling the boards could make them a tough out.

Record: 21-12, 14-6 Big East
Coach: Greg McDermott
Qualifier: At-large
KenPom overall: 13
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 27
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 15
Pace: 149
PPP overall: 1.080
Leading scorer: Ryan Kalkbrenner
NET: 17
Quad 1 record: 3-8
Against The Spread: 16-17-0
Over Total: 15-17-1

No. 11 NC State

North Carolina State (23-10) lost three of its last four games, including an 80-54 beatdown at the hands of the Clemson Tigers, who beat the Wolfpack during the final week of the regular season. They had a winning record against the conference at 12-8, which bodes well for their tourney seeding. Their underwhelming finish to the season could be a problem heading into the tourney though. Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner both average over 17 points per game.

NC State averages 75 points per game while surrendering 72. KenPom has the Wolfpack ranked in the top 50. Their adjusted offensive efficiency is 115. Defensively, they’re at 100.5.

Record: 23-10, 12-8 ACC
Coach: Kevin Keatts
Qualifier: At-Large
KenPom overall: 56
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 36
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 86
Pace: 90
PPP overall: 1.092
Leading scorer: Terquavion Smith
NET: 45
Quad 1 record: 1-6
Against The Spread: 16-15-2
Over Total: 17-16