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Key Injuries Abound in College Hoops in the East

Mike Krzyzewski

Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils will need to get along with Ryan Kelly in the lineup.

Top-ranked Duke will have to travel to Raleigh and face 20th-ranked NC State without senior forward Ryan Kelly who suffered a right foot injury. The injury occured during the Blue Devils’ win over Clemson this week at home. While Kelly was averaging 13 points and 5 boards a game it’s his defense that Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski will miss the most. According to ESPN, Kelly is the third toughest guy to score on in major college basketball as he holds one-on-one opponents to just 22% shooting.

One of the best players in the country from a team you’ve never heard of is also down with an injury. C.J. McCollum of Lehigh suffered a broken foot and had surgery to repair it earlier this week. Lehigh of course gained nationally attention last spring when they knocked off Duke in the NCAA Tournament. McCollum was leading the nation in scoring at the time of his injury and while it is possible he could return for the Patriot League tournament, personal goals could get in the way of that.

CJ McCollum

McCollum has a chance to be back by the conference tournament but even that is doubtful.

McCollum is projected as a first-round draft pick in this summer’s NBA Draft and may choose to take a slower and more deliberate path to recovery to protect that positioning. It’s a tough situation to be in and one could easily fall on either side of the debate but a the end of the day, he has to do what is ultimately best for him. The decision should be made by him.

Our third big injury to discuss is to a guy from an even smaller school than Lehigh but gained notoriety earlier this season when he scored 138 points in a single this year for tiny Grinell College in Iowa. Jack Taylor, is out two to three months with a wrist injury. He had been averaging 36.3 points per game for the Division III school.

Notes Around the East… The Atlantic 10 could be the best race in the East. Butler, Charlotte and VCU all have 13 wins while Richmond has 11. The post-season tourney promises to be a good one… Of the so-called ‘Catholic Seven,’ only Marquette and Villanova are in the top half of the Big East Standings… If you’re looking for mediocrity, then I present the Colonial Athletic Association where the best overall record is 8-8. Keep in mind these teams are often scheduled to play the big boys in the early part of the season so I expect some to separate… The Ivy League isn’t much better where 8-5 Harvard leads the way.

Games I’m Watching This Weekend

#1 Duke at #20 North Carolina State – The loss of Kelly will certainly hurt the Blue Devils as they head into their toughest game on the road in some time. C.J. Leslie leads the WolfPack with 15 points and 7 rebounds per game and he’ll probably need to step that up if they intend to beat Duke who we know can score. Mason Plumlee continues to lead the Blue Devils with 17 points and 11 rebounds per game but he tends to get more help from guys like Quinn Cook and Seth Curry. I can see this one being tight, but I like the experience and athleticism of Duke.

#19 Georgetown at St. Johns – The Hoyas are coming off a horrendous loss at home to Pitt where they scored less than 50 points in the entire game. For the first time ever in Big East play, G’Town is 0-2. The Red Storm are 9-6 and going nowhere fast either at 1-2 in the conference. Take the Hoyas to rebound with a win.

Canisius at Siena – So you want a sure thing? OK then take the Golden Griffins here to beat Siena who has lost 10 straight games and has just two wins on the season. At 10-5, Canisius is a shoo-in regardless of any numbers involved here.





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