MIDWEST REGION, FIRST ROUND
Who: No. 6 Creighton (25-9) vs. No. 11 Rhode Island (24-9)
When: Friday, 1:30 p.m.
Line: Creighton by 1.5
Three things to watch:
Missing piece: Creighton started the season 18-1 but spiraled to a 7-8 record in its last 15 games after losing starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. to a season-ending injury. The Blue Jays have had time to adjust to losing Watson – but haven’t been able to win consistently without him.
Study in contrasts: The Blue Jays can score quickly, their 82.1 points per game ranking 19th in the country this season and 17.3 assists per game ranking 10th. The Rams can play lockdown defense – they were 173rd in scoring but 32nd in points allowed at 64.9 a game.
The big mo: While Creighton mostly faded down the stretch – the Blue Jays did reach the Big East tournament final – Rhode Island won eight consecutive games to end the season to sneak into the NCAA Tournament. So the Rams are used to playing with urgency. Will it help them Friday?