As we crept up to the middle of December, just about a week from Christmas time, the Creighton Bluejays boasted the #1 Strength of Schedule on KenPom.com. Unfortunately, Creighton's record sat at an unimpressive 6-6 heading into a home game against Butler.
Greg McDermott has always said that he schedules to his team's talent level. There were unprecedented levels of expectation in Omaha heading into last season — so McDermott tallied the hardest non-conference schedule in Creighton basketball history.
And they paid the price for it, dropping six straight games early on.
This season — another season with sky-high expectations — the Jays will not have the same problem. They'll likely be able to stave off picking up a hand full of non-conference losses if they were to get banged up like they did last season.
So, without further adieu, the 2023-24 non-conference schedule:
Creighton opens up with five consecutive home games, with the only foreseeable challenge coming Nov. 14th versus Iowa. Then, they'll make their way to Kansas City, Mo. for a pretty lackluster MTE, which they should win.
Their first true road game comes at the end of the month against Oklahoma State, a homecoming of sorts for Trey Alexander. Alexander grew up in Oklahoma City, a mere hour away from the heart of Stillwater.
After that, we see Creighton getting the chance to take revenge on the in-state rival Huskers at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. The Jays were only able to muster 53 points in a loss last season to Nebraska (in a game where Ryan Kalkbrenner was dealing with Mononucleosis)
Then, we get the true litmus tests for the Bluejays. The eyes certainly drift to the Alabama game, which very well could be a matchup of Final Four contenders. But don't breeze past the game against UNLV on 12/13. The Runnin' Rebels will be a solid bunch this season and could compete for an MWC crown.
All in all, Creighton should find themselves at 9-0 heading into the final two games of the non-conference slate, with a real chance to finish 11-0.
I'm a really big fan of this schedule. There's certainly something to be said for building out an incredible non-con slate to test yourself. However, when we could see the best version of the Big East Conference since realignment, Creighton didn't need to overextend in the non-con.
Strap in, Bluejays fans. The '23-24 season should be quite the ride.