MORAGA, Calif. -- The Saint Mary's men's basketball team will host Creighton on Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. as part of the 2013 ESPN Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters series.
The game will be televised nationally on ESPN or ESPN2, and live audio will be available on SMCGaels.com. Tickets for the game go on sale Tuesday at 9 a.m., with more information available via the Tickets link on SMCGaels.com. Fans can also purchase tickets by calling the SMC Athletic Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx.
Ranked No. 16 in the latest Associated Press poll, the Bluejays enter play this week with an overall record of 20-3 and a 9-2 mark in the Missouri Valley Conference.
They feature one of the top players in the country in forward Doug McDermott, who is averaging 24 points and 7.3 rebounds per game coming into this week. McDermott's father, Greg, is Creighton's head coach.
"You're playing against one of the top mid-major programs, one of the best programs in the country, actually," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "You've got the star power, so to speak, of a guy like McDermott and a guy like (Matthew) Dellavedova. It'll be pretty exciting to see two really good teams having good years and a couple pretty special players."
Saint Mary's enters this week's action at 19-4 overall and 8-1 in West Coast Conference play. Led by point guard Matthew Dellavedova, the Gaels have won their last seven contests, and hit the road this week for games at Santa Clara and San Diego.
"We're excited with the opportunity to play Saint Mary's in front of a national television audience," said Greg McDermott. "Randy (Bennett) does a great job and always has his team ready to play."
Bennett and the McDermotts also have a bit of history together. As an assistant coach on the 2011 USA Basketball Under-19 team that played in Latvia, Bennett got a chance to coach the younger McDermott while also spending time with Greg.
"He's got a great attitude, a great leader, a worker. It's fun to see him having the career he is," Bennett said of Doug. "I thought when we had him, he was one of our best players on the team at the time."
The Gaels competed as a part of the BracketBusters series last season, dropping a 65-51 decision at No. 14-ranked Murray State. They went on to win the West Coast Conference regular season and tournament titles, landing a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
"We played the feature game with Murray State and it was one of the best atmospheres I've ever coached in," Bennett said. "We got beat up in that game, but you know what, it might have turned us around. It helped us refocus. We came back and won our last two games and then won the conference tournament."
Having participated in the series several times now, Bennett said he is excited for the Gaels to play a highly touted Bluejays squad in the final season of BracketBusters.
"ESPN has done a great job with BracketBusters," Bennett said. "It's gotten better every year."
The Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters concept, named because of the success of participating teams from these conferences in NCAA Championship play through the years, provides programs with an opportunity to play top non-conference opponents roughly three weeks before Selection Sunday. Each conference selects its participating teams before the season, and the matchups for the event are determined by ESPN in conjunction with the conferences. Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters is an example of ESPN college basketball franchise programming. Others include Rivalry Week, Feast Week Presented by Lowe's, Holiday Hoops Presented by Kay Jewelers, Bracket Builder Week and Championship Week Presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods.