The Drake Bulldogs and Creighton Bluejays probably — reasonably — won’t go to four overtimes this year, as they did in last season’s meeting in Des Moines, Iowa. But in spite of Drake entering the AP Top 25 this week, and in spite of Creighton’s slow start to the season, these two teams couldn’t be more evenly matched.
It has a lot to do with their proximity — the two schools are just two hours away from one another, inviting a natural rivalry — but mostly to do with their history in the Missouri Valley Conference, where they met for 20 years until Creighton departed for the restructured Big East in 2013. And while Drake owns the overall 39-27 series lead, Creighton has won the last two matchups.
The Bulldogs are coming off a big weekend in the Vancouver Showcase over Thanksgiving weekend, where they beat Rutgers, fell to No. 1 Notre Dame and, most notably, upset then-No. 13 South Carolina in overtime. Certainly, it was this victory — the highest-ranked upset in the regular season by an MVC team since 2000 — that propelled Drake into the AP Poll for the first time since the 2016-17 season, where they’ve come in at No. 24.
Drake’s top scorer on the season, Sara Rhine, was just named MVC Player of the Week for the third straight week, but it’s Becca Hittner who could be an early contender for the honor next week, as she’s just two points away from hitting the 1,000-point milestone.
Creighton, meanwhile, isn’t playing in a tournament until next month, and their 1-3 record includes losses to South Dakota, South Dakota State and another former MVC foe, Northern Iowa. However, they have the chance to even the series in games played in Omaha at 14 apiece, although injuries have prevented them from playing at full strength this season.
What happened last season?
In a four-overtime thriller, Creighton edged out Drake 108-100 to win their second straight contest in this series. All of the Bulldogs’ top scorers from that game — Rhine, Hittner, Brenni Rose, Sammie Bachrodt and Becca Jonas — returned this season, with Hittner, Bachrodt and Jonas having started all seven games so far.
As far as postseason play in 2017-18, Drake capped off an undefeated conference season with a second straight MVC Tournament victory to automatically advance to the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to Texas A&M in the first round.
Creighton received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after losing in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament. The Bluejays went on to upset Iowa in the first round of the NCAA tourney before ending their season with a loss to UCLA.
Bulldogs in action
Drake Bulldogs (6-1) vs. Creighton Bluejays (1-3)
When: Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 1 p.m. ET
Where: D.J. Sokol Arena, Omaha, NE
Notes: Last season’s quadruple-overtime game made history as the longest game in the NCAA in 2017-18. With the Bulldogs returning all of their starters from that game and Creighton returning all but one of their double-digit scorers and top minute-getters, this should be another classic matchup in spite of Creighton’s injury woes — even if it’s not another 60-minute ordeal.
Elsewhere in the MVC:
- Bradley is the lone undefeated team in the conference, winning both of their Florida Atlantic Tournament games over the weekend against Delaware and host Florida Atlantic to take the title. It’s their first regular-season tournament title in ten years, getting them off to their first 4-0 start in nearly 20 years. The Braves try to continue their winning streak when they host Eastern Illinois tonight (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+).
- Last season’s conference tournament runner-up Northern Iowa went 1-1 in the Beach Classic over the weekend with a win over host Long Beach State and a close loss to Boise State. The Panthers play next at IUPUI on Friday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+).
- The Indiana State Sycamores played in the Grand Canyon Thanksgiving Classic, beating host Grand Canyon in overtime before falling to UC Irvine. Senior transfer Tamara Lee scored 30 points across the two games and earned MVC Newcomer of the Week honors for her efforts. Next up, the Sycamores travel to play Southeast Missouri on Thursday (7:30 pm. ET, ESPN+).
- Thanks to Drake’s big weekend in Vancouver, the MVC only needs one more win (in nine tries) over a Power Five team this season to equal their 2017-18 total of four wins over teams from Power Five conferences. The MVC has also already equaled its non-conference road wins total (nine) from last season.