These 5 Teams Could Bomb Your March Madness Bracket
So let's be clear. We aren't saying that Duke or reigning champ UNC is going to be upset in the first or even the second round. But these teams are dealing with significant injury concerns, and their health could definitely impact their tournament run. Keep this in mind when filling out your bracket and you could avoid a major bomb.
5 Teams That Could Blow Up Your Bracket
To say Alabama is a High Risk team is actually a bit of an understatement. Each of their top seven guys are an injury concern, and six of those seven are dealing with a High Impact Injury. Collin Sexton, arguably Alabama’s best player, suffered an abdominal injury earlier in the season, missing only two games to an injury that generally requires at least four-to-six weeks of recovery. He’s still affected by the injury and will continue to be hampered through the tournament.
Junior forward Donta Hall missed just one game after undergoing a surgical procedure on his wrist in January, but it wasn’t nearly enough time to fully recover. Hall also suffered a concussion during the SEC tournament, which increases his risk even more. Guard Herbert Jones suffered a concussion just before the SEC tournament and returned to action only a week later. Head injuries generally require at least two weeks of recovery time, so Alabama currently has two players dealing with concussion concerns.
In the same game that Jones suffered his concussion, both Daniel Giddens and Alex Reese also had to be helped off the court. Giddens suffered a non-contact injury to his right knee, but he was able to return to the game. He finished out the SEC tournament, but this is definitely something to keep an eye on. Sophomore forward Braxton Key missed just four weeks after undergoing surgery to trim a meniscus tear, a procedure that generally requires up to eight weeks to recover from. He and John Petty, who played through a sprained ankle earlier this year, are both injury risks going into the tournament.
Alabama is also missing it’s most experienced player, Riley Norris, after he suffered a left hip injury that ended his season early.
We're not saying a No. 16 is going to beat a No.1.
We're just saying Penn could maybe possibly beat Kansas.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 13, 2018
If Alabama is the team with the largest injury concerns going into the NCAA Tournament, then Duke is a close second with their top two players, Marvin Bagley and Grayson Allen, at less than 100 percent. Allen’s history of ankle injuries is a major concern and Bagley’s lingering knee sprain makes him an injury risk. He also appeared to have suffered a hand injury the ACC Tournament but played through it.
Center Marques Bolden missed seven games this season to an MCL sprain, and though he’s returned, the added pressure of the tournament could aggravate the ligaments in his knee. Though he played through it in the ACC Tournament, Wendell Carter Jr. has also been battling a foot injury recently. He’s clearly affected by the injury, but he’ll likely continue to play through it.
Creighton comes in at No. 3 on the list of teams with the Highest Injury Risk. After missing three games to an infection in his foot, Creighton’s star player Ronnie Harrell Jr. struggled in his return to action on March 8. If he can’t recover in time for the tournament, Creighton will be at a huge disadvantage against Kansas State in the first round.
Senior Toby Hegner has a history of ankle issues to be concerned about, including surgery on his right ankle last year. Freshman center Jacob Epperson underwent a minor knee procedure in December, but the concern here is because he suffered another minor knee injury last week. This is a pretty major red flag.
Martin Krampelj wasn’t expected to be a major contributor this season, but he started all 19 games this season before he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. Creighton will feel his absence in the tournament.
Providence has five players with injury concerns, but only two are expected to have a High Impact. Senior guard Jalen Lindsey, one of Providence’s star players suffered a concussion a few months ago, but the concern lingers with head injuries. Maliek White suffered a non-contact knee injury earlier in the season and he missed 10 games recovering. He has since returned, but given the severity of the injury, there is a concern that he could aggravate his knee during the tournament.
Guards Alpha Diallo and Kyron Cartwright have minor injury concerns, but they should still be able to be effective. Diallo and Cartwright both suffered minor ankle sprains earlier in the season, but Cartwright continued to be bothered by the sprain. Both players have healed at this point, and the concern is minimal. It’s also worth mentioning that Providence is playing without senior forward Emmitt Holt. Holt hasn’t played all season because of an abdominal injury, and though the team is now used to playing without him, he did average over 12 PPG last season. That’s a pretty big void to fill.
UNC’s main injury concerns come from Joel Berry II and Cameron Johnson. Both players suffered injuries in the semi-final of the ACC Tournament, but both injuries were minor. Johnson tweaked his ankle, but he was able to play in the ACC Tournament Finals the next day, seemingly without problem. Johnson went down hard and had to be evaluated, but he was able to return and help the Tar Heels pull out a semi-final win.
Both of these players were concerns before their recent spills. Berry broke his right hand in October and was sidelined for four weeks. Given that he’s now nine months removed from the injury, it’s going to have a Low Impact. A torn left meniscus sidelined Johnson for 11 games in November and December, but he’s recovered at this point. Sophomore Seventh Woods hasn’t been a major contributor for UNC this season, partly because he missed 17 games with a right foot fracture. He’s back now and can be a nice bench piece if he’s healthy, but the risk remains.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ben McKeown
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