When it comes to NCAA tournament experience, Creighton is well ahead of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. The 16th-ranked Bluejays, seeded third in the West Regional, are dancing for the third straight year and have four senior starters.

The 14th-seeded Ragin' Cajuns, who will meet Creighton on Friday at 2:10 p.m. in San Antonio in a second-round game, are making their first NCAA appearance since 2005 when most of their players were in middle school.

But there is one member of UL-Lafayette entourage who has been on this stage before, Cajuns coach Bob Marlin.

In fact, he led Sam Houston State to the NCAA tournament in 2010 where the Bearkats played Baylor in a first-round game in the New Orleans Arena. Sam Houston State came close to upsetting the Bears but fell, 68-59, in a game much closer than the score indicated. Baylor went on to the elite eight where it lost to eventual national champion Duke. Ironically, Sam Houston was a 14 seed and Baylor a three.

Marlin's team was clearly outmanned but his coaching had Baylor sweating to the very end.

And his coaching - along with a more athletic team at UL-Lafayette this time - has Creighton's full attention, Bluejays coach Greg McDermott and players said.

"Anybody who covers college basketball, who's been in college basketball knows what a good coach Bob Marlin is,'' McDermott said. "He was great at Sam Houston and in four years has taken (UL-Lafayette) to this point. We'll be playing a very well prepared basketball team that will try to take things away we like to do. A very well-coached team.''

McDermott wasn't the only one throwing plaudits Marlin's way. ESPN's army of college basketball analysts have spent hours of on-air time going over every detail of the NCAA bracket.

It was during the coverage that Seth Greenberg, the former coach at Virginia Tech and now a studio analyst, picked the Cajuns to upset Creighton. The reason he said was the coaching of Marlin.

"This guy can prepare as well as anyone,'' Greenberg said.

Marlin came to UL-Lafayette right after the 2010 season and NCAA tournament appearance in New Orleans after an impressive run at Sam Houston State. He was the head coach there from 1998-2010, won three Southland Conference titles and led the Bearkats to two NCAA Tournament appearances. He complied a 226-131 record at Sam Houston and was tabbed to rebuild UL-Lafayette's sagging program.

He had marginal success in the first three years. The Cajuns were co-champions of the Sun Belt's Western Division in 2010-11 and earned a post-season invitation to the CIT Tournament the following season.

But in 2012-13, UL-Lafayette fell to 13-20.