Seeing Creighton's name in black and white on the Big East basketball schedule announced Thursday put some juice into the Bluejays.
Sure, they've known it would be there. Have since mid-March, when it was announced that Creighton had been selected to become a member of the new 10-member basketball-centric league.
“But putting names on the whole thing kind of helps it comes to life,” Creighton guard Grant Gibbs said after Thursday's round of pickup games at the Vinardi Center. “That part is exciting.”
Like most of his teammates, Gibbs had heard rumors that Creighton's first game in the new conference would be on New Year's Eve at home against Marquette. That became official Thursday as the Bluejays learned they would square off against the Golden Eagles at 9 p.m. at the CenturyLink Center.
“That New Year's Eve game is going to be insane,” Creighton assistant coach Patrick Sellers said. “Our fans are going to be so excited. My brother called me right after the schedule came out. He's looking for a flight to come here and looking for a ticket to the game.”
The Marquette game will kick off Creighton’s 18-game conference schedule, all of which will be televised nationally. In fact, just three of Creighton’s 30 regular-season games are not scheduled to be broadcast nationally at this point. The Bluejays’ nonconference schedule was announced in mid-July.
Last season, 15 of Creighton’s 36 games were available on some form of national broadcast platform. All but two were televised when the Bluejays were members of the Missouri Valley.
“We’ve had a lot of TV games, but the national ones mean something,” Gibbs said. “We’re going to be on a grand stage and perform in front of a lot of people and have an opportunity to prove ourselves. It’s just another part of the move and a big advantage to it.”
After opening the conference season at home, Creighton will play its next two games on the road — at Seton Hall on Jan. 4 and at DePaul on Jan. 7. The Bluejays will return home for games Jan. 12 against Xavier and Jan. 14 against Butler.
It will be one of three times during the season in which Creighton will play two games in a three-day period.
“That’s going to be a little difficult,” Creighton guard Jahenns Manigat said. “We’re used to playing in the Valley where we had at least three days in between games. It’s something we’ll have to get used to, and I’m sure our coaching staff will devise a plan to keep us from getting burned out and focused on the task at hand.”
Compounding the situation is the newness factor. The new league is made up of seven schools — St. John’s, Providence, Georgetown, Marquette, Villanova, Seton Hall and DePaul — that broke away from the old Big East. They added Creighton, Xavier and Butler to form the new league.
“This is going to be brand new for us, even the second time we’re playing them,” Gibbs said. “From that perspective, it’s going to be tough, but there will be a number of teams that are going to be in that boat so it’s something we’re going to have to deal with.
“We’ll just know that our execution is going to have to be tuned up in those situations.”
Creighton’s next quick turnaround comes on the road when it plays at Providence on Jan. 18 and then at Villanova on Jan. 20. The Bluejays then have a three-game homestand, facing Georgetown on Jan. 25, St. John’s on Jan. 28 and DePaul on Feb. 7.
Creighton will then make its first trip to New York’s Madison Square Garden since 1965 for a Feb. 9 game against St. John’s, starting a stretch that will see the Jays play five of their last eight games on the road.
The other road games will be Feb. 13 at Butler, Feb. 19 at Marquette, March 1 at Xavier and March 4 at Georgetown. Creighton’s final three home games will be Feb. 16 against Villanova, Feb. 23 against Seton Hall and March 8 against Providence.
Manigat, from Ottawa, Ontario, especially is looking forward to Creighton’s trips to the East Coast. He has family that lives in Brooklyn.
“My mom has already talked about figuring out logistics of getting in and out,” the senior said. “Personally, I’m really excited about it, and maybe my family will get to see me play live more than one time a year.”
Like Gibbs, Manigat said the release of the schedule put a little bounce in his step.
“I think every year when the schedule comes out, we get a chance to glance at it and kind of see what we have to prepare ourselves for,” he said. “You kind of imagine how the season is going to play out. With this being our first year in the Big East, we’re extremely excited about it. It looks like it should be a lot of fun.”
Creighton's new Big East schedule:
Dec. 31, Marquette at Creighton, 9 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Jan. 4: Creighton at Seton Hall, 2 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Jan. 7: Creighton at DePaul, 8 p.m.. Fox Sports 1
Jan. 12: Xavier at Creighton, 2 p.m., CBSSN
Jan. 14: Butler at Creighton, 8 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Jan. 18: Creighton at Providence, 1 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Jan. 20: Creighton at Villanova, 6 p.m.., Fox Sports 1
Jan. 25: Georgetown at Creighton, 7 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Jan. 28: St. John's at Creighton, 8 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Feb. 7: DePaul at Creighton, 8 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Feb. 9: Creighton at St. John's, 6 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Feb. 13: Creighton at Butler, 6 p.m., CBSSN
Feb. 16: Villanova at Creighton, 4 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Feb. 19: Creighton at Marquette, 7 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Feb. 23: Seton Hall at Creighton, 5 p.m., FSN National
March 1: Creighton at Xavier, 4 p.m., Fox Sports 1
March 4: Creighton at Georgetown, 6 p.m., Fox Sports 1
March 8: Providence at Creighton, 6:30 p.m., CBSSN