Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 3/17/12
GREENSBORO, N.C. --- Creighton has been in this situation before, but it hasn't yet gotten over the hump like many of its Missouri Valley brethren. Sunday marks the seventh time in Bluejays history they will stand at the doorstep of the Sweet 16 without yet crossing the threshold. In its way, the Tar Heels of North Carolina in a game that will be played about 60 miles from UNC's campus. The eighth-seed in the Midwest Region, Creighton will be battling against two dimensions of history in its third-round affair with the top-seeded Tar Heels at the Greensboro Coliseum: Their own history and UNC's. But if you listen to the Bluejays during Saturday's media availability, they're not at all concerned about any of that stuff. They know who the Carolina players are. They know all about UNC's amazing tradition. And in one case, their best player is close-knit friends with the Heels' best known player. "We've seen them quite a bit throughout the year," said Creighton guard Jahenns Manigat. "They got a lot of TV games. And I kind of guess regardless of where you are in the country you get to see a North Carolina game once in a while, so we're pretty familiar with what they can do." Doug McDermott is the coach's son and also Creighton's leading scorer. He's also a former high school teammate of UNC star Harrison Barnes. That story is being well documented this weekend. But interestingly, he's seen so much of UNC because of Barnes, he has witnessed the highs and lows. And sometimes an edge a power conference program with a great reputation has over a mid-major is the mystique factor. But McDermott knows stuff about Barnes many of the Tar Heels probably don't know. McDermott can tell his teammates stories that completely humanize Barnes, and that can trickle down to how the Bluejays view the rest of the Tar Heels. That said, even if Creighton gains an edge there, it still must play at a very high level to beat what might be the best team in the nation, especially if 6-foot-11 forward John Henson plays for UNC. Henson was the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year and also averages 13.8 points and 10.1 rebounds. He's missed basically the last four games with a wrist injury, which hasn't fully healed. Creighton is preparing that Henson will play, and it's also going to change a little of how it likes to play. The Bluejays lead the MVC averaging 79.4 points a game and are most comfortable pushing the tempo. Doing that versus UNC, however, can be quite dangerous. The Tar Heels essentially wrote the book on playing fast and when teams try to run with them they usually pay a dear price. Will Creighton really try to run with UNC? "We'll still be who we are because I'm not sure we have a chance to win the game if we try to be somebody that we're not and that we haven't been for 34 games," Jays coach Greg McDermott. "Having said that, we've got to pick our spots, as well." On the flip side, is there a danger in telling a team to play a different way than it has all season? Could that affect their confidence in who they are? "Our guys are relatively intelligent, and they're going to stare across at the guy playing against them and understand that he's probably going to be playing in the NBA in the next two years and they're not," the coach said. "We have to do what gives us the best chance to win. Part of that will play out as the game goes on." Creighton loves to shoot 3-pointers in transition, and McDermott noted Saturday that's when UNC has lost this season, it's been to teams that were hot from the perimeter. So he knows this part of the Bluejays' arsenal must become a weapon Sunday. Good chance it will, as they've converted 42.5 percent from beyond the arc this season. So the team from Omaha, NE, believes it knows its high-profile opponent better than most teams in their situation would and that they have the right game plan to pull off the upset. Now, it's only a matter of making it happen and finally getting into the second weekend of the big dance. And that is one tall task, maybe as tall as Henson's 7-foot-4 wingspan is wide.
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