Bad news coming out of Bethlehem, PA, as it appears that CJ McCollum’s return during the Patriot League tournament is unlikely.
“It’s unlikely,” Brett Reed, the Mountain Hawks head coach, told CBSSports.com. “We are approaching this as if he won’t play in the tourney.”
McCollum was averaging 23.9 points and 5.0 rebounds when he broke a bone in his foot on January 5th against VCU. McCollum is a potential first round pick in this year’s NBA Draft, which would make rushing him back from this injury risky for his potential career-earning.
Lehigh plays Colgate in the opening round of the tournament on Wednesday, with the winner advancing to player the winner of the No. 2-No. 7 on Saturday.
McCollum’s injury was one of the more disappointing happenings this season. Lehigh, who knocked off Duke in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament, competed valiantly without McCollum in the lineup, but they couldn’t keep pace with Bucknell. The battle for Patriot League superiority between McCollum’s Lehigh team and Mike Muscala’s Bucknell team was one of the more intriguing storylines of mid-major hoops this season.
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: