Which teams could be working with a little less star power as the 2012 NCAA tournament kicks off? Here are some of the most notable injuries that could greatly affect teams in the field.
Larry Anderson, Long Beach State: The status of Anderson may be the most important injury note heading into the NCAA tournament. He has a sprained MCL and sat out the entire Big West tournament. One of the 49ers' quartet of senior starters, Anderson -- a 6-foot-5 wing -- was named the Big West's Defensive Player of the Year. He's also the second-leading scorer for Dan Monson's club at 14.0 points per game while also chipping in 5.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists, second on the team. The No. 12 seed 49ers, a team many pegged as one of this year's plucky mid-majors capable of making a run in the tournament, already have a tough draw as they have to face Mountain West champs New Mexico in the opening round. The fifth-seeded Lobos have a couple of talented perimeter options, namely Kendall Williams and Tony Snell, and Anderson's defensive ability is going to be key to slowing them down. Knee injuries are tricky. Even if he is available to play in Thursday's 4:15 p.m. ET tip, there is no guarantee that he will be at 100 percent. Not having Anderson would be a huge loss.
Ryan Kelly, Duke: Kelly, a 6-9 junior forward, sat out during the ACC tournament with a sprained right foot and his absence was noticeable. The Blue Devils struggled to beat Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals before eventually succumbing to eventual champ Florida State in the semis. What makes Kelly so valuable is his ability to stretch the floor at the power forward spot. He's a good three-point shooter, which helps create space in the Blue Devil's offensive attack. As of Monday night, had yet to be cleared to fully practice. "The medical staff is on top of it," associate head coach Chris Collins said. "He's doing a little more each day."
Stephen Holt, Saint Mary's: Holt has missed the last five games after suffering a knee injury late in the first half of a 75-60 loss to Loyola Marymount in February. There was initially hope that he would be able to return for the WCC tournament, but he still has yet to be cleared to play. An athletic, 6-4 guard, Holt is the team's third-leading scorer and second in rebounding and assists.
John Henson, UNC: Henson landed awkwardly on his left wrist in UNC's quarterfinal win over Maryland in the ACC tournament. He tried to return to the game, but the injury was too painful. He sat out the win over N.C. State as well as the title game loss to Florida State, although he was available to play if needed. There are no broken bones in the wrist, which would lead one to believe that he will play in the NCAA tournament. Coach Roy Williams said he expects Henson's status to stay uncertain until at least Thursday. Henson is a difference-maker on the defensive end of the floor, averaging 10.1 rebounds and 2.9 blocks in addition to 13.4 points per game.
Greg Smith, Colorado State: Smith, the third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder for the Rams, injured his ankle the day before the Mountain West tournament. He missed both of the tournament games, and while coach Tim Miles said he thought the injury was relatively mild, Smith would not have been available had the Rams made it to the MWC title game. Smith is an athletic, 6-6 forward who can stretch the floor with his ability to shoot.
Tarik Black, Memphis: Black gave Memphis fans a scare in the Conference USA title game when he went flying into the Marshall bench to try to save a loose ball. He remained on the ground in pain for a few minutes, getting up holding his right wrist. X-rays came back negative and the burly sophomore returned to the bench before the game was over. He wasn't needed, however, as the Tigers rolled over Marshall. Black should be good to go against St. Louis on Friday.
Branden Dawson, Michigan State: Michigan State's talented freshman tore his ACL in the final game of the regular season against Ohio State, and his injury led to the game-changing run by Ohio State. It was speculated that the loss of Dawson would be a major factor for the Spartans, as his ability to rebound and defend at the small forward spot made him a weapon given the style of play that Tom Izzo employs. That said, the Spartans went on to win the Big Ten tournament title fairly easily without him.
Verdell Jones III, Indiana: Jones tore his ACL in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament, ending any chance that the senior, who had battled through three ugly years in Bloomington, would play in the NCAA tournament. He was a leader for this Hoosier team, and while his scoring dipped a bit this season with the increased talent around him, he was a guy that could create (7.5 ppg, 3.2 apg) and had emerged as one of Indiana's better perimeter defenders.
Alexis Wangmene, Texas: Wangmene dislocated his wrist in the second half of the final game of the regular season against Kansas and will miss the NCAA tournament. The fifth-year senior was only averaging 4.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game this season, but he provided some depth and toughness inside for a Longhorn team that doesn't have much of either.
Malcolm Brogdon and Assane Sene, Virginia: Brogdon injured his foot Feb. 17, a day before Virginia beat Maryland, but played in the next two games before it was announced that he would miss the rest of the season. The reserve guard had broken a bone in the foot. His loss, combined with the dismissal of seven-footer Sene for a violation of team rules, means that the Cavs will have just seven scholarship players heading into the NCAA tournament.
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