Mar 24, 2023 - Sports

Creighton is Arizona's fourth and final team in March Madness

A street-level view looking up at a wood and glass Creighton University building.

Photo: Courtesy of Creighton University

ASU, UofA and GCU are all out of the NCAA men's basketball tournament after a historic year that saw three local squads reach March Madness. But there's still one team in the brackets that has a presence in Arizona: Creighton University.

State of play: The Bluejays, a 6-seed in the tournament, face off against 15-seed Princeton in the Sweet 16 Friday after beating Baylor last weekend.

  • Princeton beat the Wildcats in a huge first-round upset, which headed off a potential Arizona-Creighton rematch of UofA's 81-79 win over the then-10th ranked Bluejays in November.
  • ASU won its play-in game against Nevada to reach the field of 64, but fell to 6-seed TCU in the first round.
  • Grand Canyon University earned a 14-seed in its second tournament appearance in three years, falling in a first-round game against Gonzaga.

Between the lines: While Arizonans might not view Creighton as a hometown team, the Omaha, Nebraska-based Jesuit school has expanded aggressively into the Valley over the past 11 years.

Details: The Creighton University Health Sciences Campus-Phoenix at Park Central has about 800 students at its Phoenix campus and expects that number to hit 1,000.

  • That includes four-year medical students, an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, physician's assistant, physical therapy, occupational therapy and pharmacy students.
  • "Depending on what the future holds, there may be some expansion beyond that," Catherine Todero, Creighton's dean of nursing and vice provost of health sciences, tells Axios Phoenix, adding the university could bring its paramedicine program as well.

Catch up quick: Creighton established its initial Phoenix health sciences campus in 2012 at Dignity Health St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center.

  • The university added a nursing school to the medical school in 2018, and opened its campus at Park Central in July 2021.
  • They expanded that campus because the Valley's rapid growth was fueling a need for medical professionals.
  • By comparison, Todero says, there are more than 3,000 students in health sciences programs at the school's main campus in Omaha.

What they're saying: Ann-Marie Alameddin, president and CEO of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, tells Axios, "They have an excellent reputation and they really graduate excellent professionals."

  • Alameddin, a Creighton alum, noted Arizona is one of the hardest-hit states in terms of a national health care provider shortage, saying the university's presence in the Valley will help.

Of note: Creighton has more than 2,600 alumni in the Phoenix area, "So there's a lot of people there who could root for Creighton, for our basketball team," Todero says.

Between the lines: Creighton is a 9.5-point favorite over Princeton, and if they get past the Tigers, they face the winner of Friday's matchup between 5-seed San Diego State and top overall seed Alabama in the Elite Eight.

  • Keep an eye on Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner, the Big East player of the year who averages 15.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.
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