March Madness Injury Guide: 7 Biggest Injuries Affecting the Tournament
Marcus Sasser, Houston (#1), SIC score 63
Marcus Sasser’s groin strain in the AAC tournament is arguably the biggest injury affecting March Madness. The senior from Dallas leads Houston in scoring, three-point makes and is second in steals.
While Sasser will undoubtedly attempt to play in the tournament, the Pro Basketball Docs are skeptical that he can be his dynamic self on either side of the court.
He will likely be limited to a spot-up shooter role and likely play limited minutes early in the tournament.
Norchad Omier, Miami (#5), SIC score 36
The Nicaraguan 6-foot-7 sophomore left the ACC tournament semifinal in the early going suffering by video a right ankle injury. Norchad Omier came down on a Duke player's foot after leaping to grab a missed free throw causing him to fall and late helped off into the tunnel.
By video, Omier suffer a likely Grade 2 right inversion ankle sprain on the play, according to the Pro Basketball Docs. This all but rules him out for the Hurricanes opener against Drake on Friday, but the real question is how many games with the big man miss.
His only hope of coming back early is if his situation matches Stephen Curry's who dealt with chronic ankle injuries that meant little new damage was done.
His athleticism and play style likely prevent an early return as he relies on his ankle to be mobile on the court. If he indeed returns earlier than expected, it will be tough for him to be effective on either end of the court.
Jaylen Clark, UCLA (#2), Out for Tournament
Jayden Clark’s Achilles tendon tear just before the Pac-12 tournament is a massive loss for the Bruins. Not only was Clark the third-highest scorer on the team, but his 2.6 steals per game ranked fifth in the nation.
UCLA fared well without Clark in the Pac-12 tournament – losing by 2 points to Arizona in the championship game – but there’s no doubt Mick Cronin will have to make adjustments on both ends to account for his absence.
Adem Bona, UCLA (#2), SIC score 22
The Bruins are also down a key contributor off the bench in Adem Bona, who suffered a left shoulder injury in Friday’s Pac-12 tournament contest against Oregon.
By video, the freshman from Nigeria suffered a left shoulder dislocation while diving for a ball. At best, he will be able to return for the Elite Eight or Final Four, but the Pro Basketball Docs do not expect he can play effectively until then.
Bona is another big defensive absence as he leads the team in blocks (1.7) and contributes 5.4 rebounds in 23 minutes per game.
Kevin McCullar Jr., Kansas (#1), SIC score 90
The Texas Tech transfer missed the Big-12 Championship after experiencing back spasms in the second half of the semifinals against Iowa State. His absence from the championship was merely precautionary, according to acting head coach Norm Roberts, and he is expected to be fully available for the tournament.
Kevin McCullar Jr. carries a SIC score of 90 for the opening round, indicating that the Pro Basketball Docs have no concerns about his back spasms.
While back spasms often flare up without warning, they can be easily treated and played through. The Jayhawks can count on the senior defensive specialist early and often in the tournament.
Timmy Allen, Texas (#2), SIC score 87
The Longhorns' spark plug is nursing an unspecified leg injury that caused him to miss the Big 12 championship, which Texas won with him sidelined.
The injury occurred in the regular season finale against Kansas and although he missed multiple key games, he's been deemed ready to go for the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Texas did win the Big 12 tourney without him but will need his tenacity on both ends if the Longhorns have any shot of winning the title.
Our Docs believe he will be fully effective in the first round versus Colgate. Allen leads the team in rebounds with 5.5 per game and averages 10.5 points per contest.
Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee (#4), Out for Tournament
Tennessee has gone 1-2 since losing starting point guard Zakai Zeigler to a torn ACL on the final day of February. While both of those losses came against teams currently in the NCAA tournament, the Volunteers face a tough task to reshape their offense this late in the season.
Zeigler led the team in assists (5.4) and steals (2.0) per game before his injury, but the team has averaged 70.3 points per game since losing the point guard. No player has tallied more than 4 assists in the three games since Zeigler’s injury.
Senior guard Santiago Vescovi leads the team in scoring and ranks second in assists per game. He and Josiah-Jordan James will have to pick up the slack left by Zeigler’s absence for Tennessee to have a chance at a deep tournament run.
Follow Sports Injury Central here and you'll get our new FREE SIC Newsletter each week. Our newsletter will have the best NFL, CFB, NBA and MLB injury insights from our Pro Sports Doctors plus Free Picks delivered straight to your inbox to give you an edge!