Inactivity might have proved valuable for Creighton's basketball team last week when it came to the national rankings.
At least, that's how Bluejays coach Greg McDermott sees it.
“It was a good week not to play,” he said, laughing.
Actually, the Bluejays did have a game last week, when they survived a frantic rally by St. John's in posting a 63-60 win. The Tuesday night victory came before a series of results turned the Associated Press and coaches rankings upside down and inside out.
Sixteen ranked teams lost games last week, with four dropping two games each. The rash of losses, coupled with Creighton's win, allowed the Bluejays to make nice jumps in each of the polls.
Creighton moved from 20th to a season-best 12th in both polls.
“Obviously, there is tremendous parity in college basketball and we're seeing that this year more than ever,” McDermott said. “The polls have been a reflection of that. They're ever-changing because everything is pretty equal.”
Had the Bluejays not pulled off the last-second victory over St. John's, they might have found themselves unranked this week rather than approaching the school's highest ranking ever.
Creighton suffered such a fate after re-entering the AP rankings at the No. 20 spot the week of Jan. 13. A loss to Providence on Jan. 18 bounced the Bluejays out of the top 25 in the next ratings but they used impressive wins over Villanova and Georgetown to reclaim the No. 20 spot in last week's rankings.
“That's just how it works,” said McDermott, who votes in the coaches poll. “It's pretty subjective. I'm a voter, and I can't honestly say that I see every team play. You just don't have time.
“So part of it is perception and looking at scores to see who you've beat and if you've won away from home. Those things are important to me as I put together my ballot. Everyone looks at it a little bit differently.”
McDermott said he had the Bluejays “around 10th” on this week's ballot.
“I keep moving teams up if they keep on winning,” McDermott said. “I drop teams a couple of spots if they lose, depending on who they lost to or where they lost and the margin of defeat. I just try to remain as consistent as possible.”
Creighton's highest ranking ever came the week of Jan. 20, 2003, when the Bluejays reached the No. 10 spot in the AP poll and No. 9 in the coaches rankings. Since then, Creighton's highest AP ranking came the week of Jan. 14, 2013, when it reached the No. 12 spot.
The Bluejays reached the No. 12 spot in the coaches poll the week of Jan. 19, 2013.
Of course, McDermott tries to keep rankings talk in perspective. He said it's great for Creighton's program to get the exposure that comes with being ranked in the top 25.
“The closer you get to March 1, the more the rankings mean,” he said. “Once you get into the month of March and you're ranked in the top 15 in the country, you're staring at a pretty good seed in the NCAA tournament.
“So the rankings are certainly more meaningful now than they were a month ago but they're not close to being as meaningful today as they will be a month from now.”
Creighton also moved up in the NCAA's official RPI rankings, jumping two spots from 10th to eighth. The RPI, unlike the rankings, is a tool the NCAA basketball committee using in seeding the national tournament in March.
The Bluejays continue to lead the nation in five statistical categories: 3-point field goals per game (11.0), 3-point field-goal percentage (.432), 3-point field goals made (230), assists per game (18.3) and assists-to-turnovers ratio (1.77 to 1). Creighton also is fourth in assists (385) and seventh in scoring margin (plus-15.8).
Individually, Creighton's Doug McDermott ranks second nationally points per game (25.0), third in field goals made (181) and sixth in points (525), while teammates Ethan Wragge is second in 3-point percentage (.497) and fifth in 3-point field goals per game (3.71) and 3-point field goals made (78), and Jahenns Manigat is seventh is assists-to-turnovers ratio (3.63 to 1).
McDermott's 39-point effort against St. John's, which included making the winning 3-point basket, earned him the Big East player of the week award. It's the sixth time he's won the weekly award this season, and he also was the national player of the week by ESPN.com.