Creighton University has never made a Final Four despite plenty of success in men's basketball. This year's team might be the school's best ever, but the Bluejays have lost their most important player to a season-ending injury.
Seventh-ranked Creighton is off to the best start in school history at 18-1 -- including a terrific 13-4 ATS on NCAA basketball picks -- following a 72-67 victory at No. 22 Xavier on Monday. In the game, star Bluejays point guard Maurice Watson Jr. went down with a knee injury. Actually, he hurt it twice. Watson was injured on a collision with about nine minutes left before halftime. A trainer worked on it and Watson re-entered the game. However, he was limping and thought he felt the knee pop when he landed after a layup at the 6:58 mark. He was carried off and didn't return.
Originally, there were reports that Watson's ligaments were sound, but that proved to be false as the senior's college career is over due to a torn ACL.
Creighton has one of the best offensive teams in the country, averaging 86.7 points (12th), 17.7 assists (10th) and shooting 53.1 percent from the field (second). Watson was the guy who made that offense go as he leads the nation in assists at 8.5 per game while also averaging 12.9 points and shooting 50.8 percent from the field. He was likely to be an All-American and first-team All-Big East. He also was on pace to shatter the school's single-season record of 252 assists. Watson transferred to Creighton after two seasons at Boston University.
"Our team will regroup, and we have a lot of young men who are capable of stepping up to fill the void in Maurice's absence," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said in a statement.
The Bluejays had looked to be the top challenger to No. 1 Villanova for the Big East title. Creighton's only loss was 80-70 at home to Villanova on New Year's Eve. The schools play again on Feb. 25 in Philadelphia. Creighton is next in action Saturday vs. Marquette.
Creighton is currently +3000 on NCAA basketball odds to win its first national championship. It hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2014. Certainly this year's club will be in the Big Dance, but getting to the Sweet 16 will be a big challenge now.