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Ragin’ Cajuns Draw Interesting NCAA Tournament Bid

photo courtesy Brad Kemp/ragincajuns.com

Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns are dancing for the first time since 2005, and they’ll have a shot to take down the possible NCAA Player of The Year.

March Madness will start this Friday in San Antonio for Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns as the fourteen seed in the West. Their destined opponent for their first tango is the number three seed, the Creighton Bluejays.

The Jays are 26-7 on the year and went 14-4 in Big East play and thumped third ranked Villanova for two of the Wildcats three total losses. The real story is their star player, Doug McDermott.

Creighton’s t-shirted assassin is up for several national awards and is the heart and soul of the team, which is coached by his father, Greg. The senior averages 26.9 ppg and 7.1 rpg, while shooting .525 from the field and .454 beyond the arc. He can flat out score, and sometimes good defense can’t even stop his jumpshot.

McDermott’s shooting is contagious. The Bluejays spread the floor with three point shooters and knock them down over 40 percent of the time.

There is one very encouraging sign for the Cajuns. If you take Doug McDermott away, there is only one other player on the Creighton roster averaging double-digit point totals. That’s easier said than done though.

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

McDermott scored over 20 points in 29 of 33 games this season despite facing constants double-teams. Only one team, George Washington University, held McDermott to single-digits all year. The Bluejays lost that game. In his last five games he’s been on fire though, averaging 32.2 ppg and carrying Creighton within one win of a Big East Conference Tournament Championship.

Creighton’s star might shine the brightest, but the Cajuns have two. Elfrid Payton and Shawn Long will have to be perfect if the Cajuns want to win, and they’re going to need help from the rest of the squad to stop McDermott.

If you’re looking for Creighton’s weakness, it’s easy to find. Athleticism isn’t their forte. They’re incredibly well coached and play smart through McDermott, but an aggressive press could disrupt the flow.

They had a negative turnover ratio on the year, so Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year Elfrid Payton will have opportunities to impose his will. A transition style game could knock the Jays right out of the tournament.

The Cajuns’ bid could have been a lot worse with teams like Louisville, Syracuse and Duke  getting passed over for two seeds, but Creighton is battle-tested and senior-led.

Getting into the tournament is just the first step. March Madness brings all types of treats in store for those that put on their dancing shoes.

If the Cajuns slide past Creighton into the next round, they would face either Baylor, who they saw earlier this year, or Nebraska. Past that, Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns would have a chance to spoil the big dance for their West region bracket-mates like Arizona, Wisconsin or San Diego State.

The West also hosts dark horse candidates like Marcus Smart’s Oklahoma State squad, Oregon’s fun-and-gun show, and a quietly impressive Oklahoma squad. The only game that matters is the current one in tournament basketball, so Bob Marlin and his coaching staff are worrying about McDermott and Creighton right now. That’s enough to think about.

The Cajuns possess one of the best intangibles when it comes to the NCAA Tournament that is important to remember. They have nothing to lose.

All they wanted was a chance to dance, and with a conference championship being carried to the trophy case the only thing left is to let loose and play hoops. Let the Madness begin.

photo courtesy Brad Kemp/ragincajuns.com

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