SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- Armed with the highest seed in school history, No. 6 Creighton begins a quest for its third first-round victory in five years Friday when it faces Central Michigan in the West Region.
The Bluejays (29-4) enter the tournament tied with Kentucky for the most wins in the country and are in an unfamiliar position of being a favorite.
Last season, Creighton upset Florida, 83-82, in overtime in the first round as a Mo. 12 seed before losing to Illinois in the second round. In 1999, the Bluejays surprised Louisville, 62-58, as a No. 10 seed.
Creighton may go as far as Kyle Korver, a second-team all-American, will take it. The bushy-haired senior forward led the Blue Jays in scoring (17.7), rebounding (6.3) and steals (1.5). He also ranks seventh in NCAA history in 3-pointers made (366) and 15th in 3-point accuracy (45 percent).
Creighton's only other double-figure scorer is senior guard Larry House (11.1), who earned a spot on the all-Missouri Valley Conference tournament team.
The Blue Jays earned an automatic NCAA Tournament bid by routing Southern Illinois, 80-56, in the MVC championship game. Creighton scored the games's first 10 points and was never threatened en route to its fourth MVC tournament title in five years. The Blue Jays held the Salukis to 15.6 percent shooting in the first half.
Korver earned his second straight tournament MVP award, recording 12 points, 10 rebounds and six assists against Southern Illinois.
The Blue Jays, 6-7 in first-round encounters, are facing Central Michigan for the first time. Should Creighton advance, it could be looking at a second-round contest against Duke.
Central Michigan (24-6) enters the tournament on a six-game winning streak, having captured the Mid-American Conference tournament title. The Chippewas punched their ticket with a 77-67 victory over Kent State, which reached the regional finals last season, in the MAC championship game.
The Chippewas have an imposing presence in the middle in 7-foot junior center Chris Kaman, the MAC Player of the Year. Kaman ranks nationally in scoring (22.7), rebounds (12.3), blocks (3.3) and shooting percentage ( 63.4). He had 25 points and 13 rebounds against Kent State.
Senior forward Mike Manciel (16.5) and senior guard J.R. Wallace (14.4) also average in double figures for Central Michigan.
The Chippewas are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1987, when a Dan Majerle-led team lost to UCLA, also in Salt Lake City. They are 2-3 all-time in NCAA play.