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Aztecs float from Cloud Nine to Elite Eight, await the Creighton Blue Jays

Creighton, 86-75 winners against Princeton prove to be another formidable foe

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament South Regional-Princeton vs Creighton Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Aztecs keep celebration to a minimum as their job is not yet done

On the heels of the school's signature win and America's new darling team, it’s back to business for the Aztecs. Widely respected for their football program, the basketball team took the national stage with a stunning defeat of previously number one Alabama. Not only were they the top seed they were also the top-ranked team in the country. How the mighty do fall. While considered an upset, many weren’t surprised that the Aztecs played so well. With a dominating defense, the Aztecs kept Alabama from going on long scoring runs, containing fast breaks and maximizing ball possession. All the while containing All-American Brandon Miller. Leading 28-23 at halftime, the Aztecs continued their methodical death-by-a-thousand-cuts defense, causing frustration among Alabamas ranks.

Who are the Creighton Blue Jays

Creighton comes into the regional finals as a two-point favorite despite being ranked 6 to the Aztecs' fifth. They are an 8800-student, private Jesuit school in Omaha Nebraska. The Blue Jays are talented and young with three sophomores among their starters. The player central to Creightons’ success is 7’1” center Ryan Kalkbrenner. He averages 15.9 points a game on the year, 6.1 rebounds, and shoots 70.8% from the field. He had 22 points against an outstanding Princeton team. He obviously is a low post, paint type of player and the Aztecs will need to find a way to contain him on both ends of the court. Keeping the offense moving and running the show is sophomore guard Trey Anderson. At 6’4, he has both height and quickness to run circles around most defenses. He averages 13.7 points per game and scored 19 against Princeton. Next up is towering guard Baylor Scheierman, a 6’7 senior. He scored 21 points against Princeton, nearly nine above his season average. Needless to say, these three are the key to the Blue Jays game, accounting for 62 of the teams 86 total points against Princeton.

Pride is on the line

Coach Brian Dutcher will need to obviously find a way to contain these three players, through swarming defense, hurried passes or early foul trouble. On paper, Creighton looks to be a bit better than the Aztecs on offense, but again, so did Alabama. Conference pride is on the line as well, as there are two Big East teams that remain. The mighty SEC is gone, the Big 10 is outta here, and the Pac-12 (helllooo?). Remaining are two from the Big 12 (Kansas State and Texas). Conference USA’s Florida Atlantic is quite formidable as well and may have something to say when all is said and done. That leaves the Mountain West. Long considered a one-and-done conference, they have shown resiliency through their strongest team. Several conferences will be looking at the Aztecs for expansion, and they should and could be at the top of most lists. Those conversations will have to wait as the Aztecs continue their march to destiny. They play next on Sunday at 11:20 on CBS. National spotlight. Cinderella. They are one win away from the Final Four in Houston. I’m excited for them, as I will be watching the Final Four in person. I hope they make it. They have converted many naysayers.