Saint Mary’s beat Creighton.
The Gaels did what many of the pundits were saying they had to do to ensure a legitimate shot at getting an invite to the NCAA Tournament. They beat Creighton, who at the time of the Bracketbusters announcement was ranked and seen as one of the best teams in the country.
Saint Mary’s head coach Randy Bennett referred to the win over Creighton as one against a “sexy team,” because of the Bluejays’ reputation around the country.
That reputation might have taken a hit after Saturday.
Creighton has lost four of their six games since the announcement, dropped out of the Top 25 and there are some serious questions about whether Creighton will be all that good of a win come Selection Sunday.
If this is now the Gaels’ best win, they have to hope Creighton finds a way to get it going again.
The Saint Mary’s RPI has risen to 39 as of Sunday and they are sitting in better and better position. They have two remaining conference games, (Pepperdine, Santa Clara) before the WCC Championships, where they have a bye to the semifinals.
They will likely face BYU (RPI: 60) a third time and they may need that win as well just to be on the safe side. That would be three more wins, putting Saint Mary’s at 27-5 going into the WCC championship game against (likely) Gonzaga.
Maybe the recent runs to the NCAA Tournament help Saint Mary’s. They have been there three of the last five seasons, including a run to the Sweet Sixteen.
Then again, what if it hurts? Saint Mary’s has not made it in consecutive years and in two of the NCAA Tournament runs, the Gaels were bounced out in their first game (2008, 2012).
Of course, there is this: With Creighton tumbling (RPI: 41), how good will that win really be? Will Creighton even be a Tournament team at this rate? The Bluejays get Bradley and Wichita State, who is also trying to help their Tournament case, to finish the regular season.
Let’s be honest, anyone else think to themselves when watching Creighton on Saturday, “This is a Tournament team? Really?”
The eye test on Saturday said Creighton shouldn’t be dancing in March. If that comes to fruition, the best win Saint Mary’s will have produced is against a team not in the NCAA Tournament.
The win over Creighton was Saint Mary’s best win and will be their best without being the WCC’s automatic bid. It has to be enough for Saint Mary’s or the Gaels will be in the NIT, again, looking back and wishing they had been dancing.