Lehigh, one of the darlings of last year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, will have a tougher time trying to get back to the Big Dance.
CJ McCollum was one of the stars when the Mountain Hawks, a No. 15 seed, knocked off Duke in the first round last March. But he broke a bone in his foot in January and likely won't be ready to return during the Patriot League tournament, reports CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman.
"We are approaching this as if he won't play in the tourney," Lehigh coach Brett Reed told Goodman. "It's unlikely."
McCollum, the Patriot League Player of the Year last season, scored 30 points in the 75-70 win over Duke and emerged as a possible lottery pick in this year's NBA Draft. His stock may have fallen with his injury, but Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix still had McCollum in the top-20 in his latest NBA Draft Big Board.
The Mountain Hawks will need to win the conference tournament to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. Doing so will be more difficult without McCollum -- though it is still possible. Lehigh has played relatively well since his injury and finished tied for second in the Patriot League with a 10-4 record. Lehigh will likely need to get past Bucknell, one of the better mid-major teams this year, to make the NCAA Tournament. The teams split their two games this season.