The all eyes on Joel Embiid's back edition
It might be Championship Week, with NCAA Tournament berths getting handed out on a daily basis, but the eyes of the college basketball world turned toward Lawrence, Kansas, Monday night with Bill Self's announcement that Kansas University freshman center Joel Embiid will not only miss the Big 12 Tournament due to a stress fracture in his back, but also will likely miss the first weekend of the Big Dance.
How soon will Embiid be able to return? How does his absence impact KU's seeding? Should the center return at all this season? That and more were discussed in the minutes and hours that followed the news.
• In Andy Katz's 3-point shot video Tuesday for ESPN.com, the national writer said Kansas will be discussed intently by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, due to the mystery surrounding Embiid's availability for the championship event.
• ESPN.com's Myron Medcalf wrote Embiid shouldn't worry about returning to the floor to finish his freshman season at Kansas.
Rest and rehab, prior to this year's NBA draft, was the route Medcalf suggested.
Embiid’s return would certainly help one entity: Kansas. But it could do more harm to the fragile back of a young man who won’t last long in next summer’s NBA draft if he enters it.
• Kansas isn't the only team that had serious March Madness aspirations altered in one way or another due to the loss of a key member of its lineup this season.
Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News offers a look at some other prominent long-term injuries and how each program has adjusted.
He examines crucial setbacks suffered by players at Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Pitt and Syracuse.
Obviously, the college hoops social media scene buzzed Monday night with the news of Embiid's stress fracture. Below are some of the highlights.
Big 12 buzz
• CBSsports.com's Gary Parrish wrote Self deserved to be the Big 12 Coach of the Year.
Parrish thought Rick Barnes of Texas and Lon Kruger of Oklahoma both were strong choices, but he claimed Self shouldn't be discredited just because his team wins the league every season — at least for the past decade.
But the fact that Self makes it look easy doesn't mean that it is, you know, easy, and I'll stand by that statement forever unless you can hit me with a long list of coaches who have A) won 10 consecutive league titles, or B) done it three times without a single returning starter.
• Basketball mathematics guru Ken Pomeroy says Kansas has a 43% chance of winning the Big 12 Tournament.
The projections, Pomeroy admits, come with a disclaimer: the numbers don't take into account the absence of Embiid.
Still, Pomeroy thinks KU is the most likely tournament champion, and he provides the chances each Big 12 program has to each each round of the tournament. Here are the percentages he gives each team to win the championship:
Iowa State, 10.2%
Oklahoma State, 7.5%
Kansas State, 5%
West Virginia, 4%
Texas Tech, 0.4%
Check out Pomeroy's explanation of each team's chances to win at kenpom.com.