Nevada Wolf Pack (26-3) vs. Creighton Blue Jays (22-10)
When: Friday, 2:35 p.m.
Where: New Orleans
NEVADA WOLF PACK
1. The McGee Family Reunion Comes With A Shot Clock. JaVale McGee's mom Pam and Aunt Paula won the 1983 & 1984 NCAA basketball championships with USC. Although Aunt Paula (who got robbed) wasn't selected for the Olympic team, Mom won a basketball gold medal in 1984. His dad, George Montgomery, a 6-8, C/F out of Illinois, was drafted in 1985 by the Trailblazers before such luminaries as Lorenzo Charles, Uwe Blab, Arvydas Sabonis and Spud Webb.
2. From The Penthouse To The Outhouse. The dichotomy of being a mid-major can be seen in the arenas you play in when on the road. On December 30, the Wolf Pack played at sold out Key Arena in Seattle against Gonzaga in the "Battle in Seattle." Attendance: 15,110. On February 22, the Pack played in the sold out Memorial Gym in Moscow, Idaho against conference foe University of Idaho. Attendance: 1,200. Idaho's normal home floor in the Kibbie Dome was being used for the annual Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival.
3. In Good Company. Wolf Pack head coach Mark Fox has racked up a record of 79-16 (.832) in his first three seasons. All-time NCAA records start when a coach reaches his fifth year, but extrapolating Fox's record, after five years, he would have the highest winning percentage in the NCAA. Mark Few of Gonzaga (.821) and Roy Williams of North Carolina (.799) move down to second and third. — PJ Connolly
CREIGHTON BLUE JAYS
1. The original Huggy Bear. Before Bob Huggins (and Tom Asbury and Jim Wooldridge), there was Dana Altman. In four years at K-State, Altman led the Wildcats to three postseason tournaments (including the Big Dance in 1993) and won a Big Eight Coach of the Year award. Since taking over at Creighton in 1994, he has become the school's all-time wins leader (passing Eddie Sutton and Willis Reed), won two more conference coach of the year awards (2001 and 2002) and led the Bluejays to seven NCAA tournaments in the last nine years.
2. Ballroom dancing was already full. The MVC's leading scorer, fifth-year senior Nate Funk, is the latest in a long line of Creighton players who suspiciously resemble less highly evolved humanoids (see also: Kyle Korver). Academically, though, Funk adheres to the Matt Leinart evolutionary chain. Enrolled in a single class in his final semester, one would hope Funk would take advantage of Creighton's strong academic reputation (No. 1 in the Midwest - US News). Nope. Applied Guitar. (Fair and balanced disclosure: Fellow senior Anthony Tolliver was named an academic All-American last year.)
3. The Will Leitch Haircut and Music Emporium. Creighton players who live on campus can now take advantage of a massive redevelopment of North Omaha intended to make the region more attractive to students and young professionals. One of the cornerstones of the plan is Slowdown, a concert venue owned and operated by Saddle Creek Records (Bright Eyes, The Faint, Cursive). Creighton senior and Compton Community College alum Nick Porter remains unimpressed. — Christopher Wachal