When Mo Watson went down with a non-contract knee injury in Monday’s win over Xavier, Creighton fans feared the worst for their star point guard.
Those fears have been confirmed.
Per Watson’s twitter, the senior guard suffered a torn ACL and is out for the remainder of the season.
— Maurice Watson Jr. (@mauricewatsonjr) January 17, 2017
As a result of Watson’s injury, things just got VERY interesting in the Big East.
Not only was Watson leading the country in assists with 8.5 per game, he was the heart and soul of Creighton’s team. Without Watson, they lose not only a tremendous player, but their leader as well.
The main problem for Creighton is without Watson, they don’t have a true point guard to run the show. Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas are much better players playing off of the ball. The Jays turned to junior guard Isaiah Zierden to play point guard in Monday’s win over Xavier and he will likely remain the point guard moving forward.
Zierden started all 31 of Creighton’s games last season, so he has plenty of experience. However, he is not a true point guard in his own right and is another player who thrived playing off the ball with Watson facilitating the offense.
Creighton, currently ranked number seven in the country, does not have a game until they take on Marquette at home, so they will have almost a full week of practice to figure out their point guard situation.
The Jays are still one of the better teams in the Big East thanks to the likes of Foster, Thomas, and Cole Huff, so it’s not as if the Jays are going to go crashing to the bottom of the Big East standings with the loss of Watson, but there is the potential for some slip-ups along the way.
Looking past Creighton, here is what Watson going down for the season means for the rest of the Big East.
Villanova is now the clear favorite
If there was any doubt about Villanova being the favorite in the Big East, that doubt should be erased now.
The Wildcats were able to go to Creighton and defeat the Jays with Watson, and winning the Big East just became a whole lot easier with Watson not around to give them fits in their second showdown of the season in February.
The current number one team in the country should be the favorites to win the not only the regular season title, but the conference tournament as well.
Marquette can steal one on Saturday
The Golden Eagles almost went on the road and beat Butler, but squandered an 18 point lead and ultimately wound up losing by eight.
In that game, Marquette showed that they are not scared to play top teams on the road and with Watson being out, they could possibly be back in the position to get themselves a signature win.
Markus Howard is the real deal and a true point guard for Marquette, something Creighton does not currently have. With the Jays searching for an answer at the point, Howard could potentially take advantage of this and have himself a monster game, leading Marquette to an upset on the road.
Howard showed that he is fearless with a strong performance against Butler on Monday and his job just got a lot easier now that he will not have to deal with being covered by and defending the relentless Watson.
Things won’t be so easy the second time around for Creighton
Creighton played four of the seemingly better teams in the Big East to start off conference play in Seton Hall, Villanova, Butler, and Xavier.
They were able to win three of those four games, the lone loss coming to Villanova. All of those games were played in Omaha and with Watson.
Now, Creighton will have to go into hostile environments against four very good teams without their leader and point guard.
All four of those aforementioned teams have something in common: strong guard play.
If Creighton is not able to right the ship quickly, they could easily drop four road games and send them falling down the Big East standings.
The potential for teams to move up
If you haven’t gotten the gist by now, Creighton is vulnerable without Watson.
They are an extremely talented team and Watson did not carry them to number seven in the country all by himself, but without their point guard it remains to be seen how they will respond.
There are plenty of teams near the bottom of the Big East standings in St. John’s, Providence, Georgetown and even Seton Hall who currently find themselves at eighth in the Big East early on. These teams will definitely be looking to take advantage of the Watson injury in an effort to move up in the Big East standings.