Rhode Island got into the NCAA tournament after storming through the Atlantic 10 tournament, and the run of form hasn’t ended yet.
The No. 11 seed Rams blew out No. 6 seed Creighton in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday, getting 23 points from Jeff Dowtin to lead five players in double-figures in an 84-72 win.
It’s the first NCAA tournament win for Rhode Island since 1998, and it came in their first tournament appearance since 1999, when Lamar Odom was still Kingston. The Rams will advance to take on No. 3 seed Oregon, but it’s fair to wonder if this result was an upset in seed only. The Rams ended up being favored by the time this game tipped off, but more to the point, Creighton is simply not the same team that they were when the season started.
I’m not exactly breaking any news here when I say that Creighton’s season was a massive disappointment. They entered the season as a potential top 20 team, they entered Big East play as a top ten team and midway through the season, they looked like a real contender for the Big East title with a National Player of the Year candidate on the roster.
Then Mo Watson tore his ACL, and a month later was arrested and charged with sexual assault. He’s facing a long, long time in prison, and trust me when I say that I realize everything that alleged victim is dealing with makes what Creighton’s going through seem like a 90-minute deep tissue massage.
The point here isn’t to diminish what happened to her or what Watson was alleged to have done.
But that doesn’t change the fact that a year that started out with such promise for a program that doesn’t experience this kind of success often ended with the Bluejays quietly bowing out of the NCAA tournament in a 15-point first round loss that no one paid attention to as they made the trek from their St. Patrick’s Day Happy Hour to wherever it is that they were going to spend their evening downing Guinness and Jamesons.
With the season over, Creighton fans are left to wonder ‘What if?’ while the rest of America didn’t even notice it came to an end.