Creighton Bluejays vs. Florida A&M Rattlers Pick & Prediction NOVEMBER 7th 2023


No. 8 Creighton was certifiably elite in March. The Bluejays are determined to get back to that level this season.

Creighton maintains great expectations for the 2023-24 campaign despite losing two key cogs from the team that advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament last season.

With All-Big East preseason first-team representatives Ryan Kalkbrenner and Trey Alexander leading the way, the Bluejays look to start off on the right foot Tuesday when they host Florida A&M in Omaha, Neb.

Creighton was picked to finish third in the Big East preseason poll and has no qualms about leaning on Kalkbrenner. The 7-foot-1 star led the club by averaging 15.9 points per game. He also provided a presence at the other end of the court, earning conference defensive player of the year honors for the second time.

Alexander contributed 13.6 points and 2.6 assists per game last season for a Bluejays team that also boasts Big East preseason second-team selection Baylor Scheierman. Utah State transfer Steven Ashworth has come aboard after being a first-team all-Mountain West pick last season. Creighton, which has won its last 28 home openers, will look to rebound after seeing last season’s run come to an abrupt halt. The Bluejays finished with a 24-13 overall record and 14-6 mark in the Big East before dropping a 57-56 decision to upstart San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament.

“We’re just trying to get back to the same point we were,” Alexander said recently, “and we know we have to work harder than we did last year to have a different outcome.”

“It definitely adds a little bit extra knowing how close you were — and just knowing that if you got the bounce to go your way instead of their way, it’s you in the Final Four,” Kalkbrenner said recently.

The Bluejays will have to adjust to a pair of key departures this season, as Ryan Nembhard transferred to Gonzaga and Arthur Kaluma left for Kansas State.

Florida A&M is looking to build off a 7-22 record from last season. The Rattlers, however, lost key players such as Jordan Tillmon (team-high 10.6 points per game last season) and Jaylen Bates (9.0) and been picked to finish 11th in the Southwestern Athletic Conference preseason poll. Tillmon is now at Southern Indiana, while Bates is at Youngstown State and Smith

Dimingus Stevens represents the team’s top returning scorer from 2022-23 after contributing 8.4 points off the bench.

The departures aside, Florida A&M head coach Robert McCullum was pleased to add assistant Rory Spencer to his staff.

“I met Rory 13-14 months ago, and his enthusiasm and energy got my attention immediately,” McCullum said. “His experience at Chattanooga State Community College for the past two years, which included all of the team’s operations, will help to make his transition to our program less challenging. “In addition, his experiences as a Division I basketball player at Georgia Southern and overseas, and his work on the court at Chattanooga State, which I observed, will enable him to fit in well relative to his ability to teach.”

–Field Level Media

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