NCAA Tournament injury report: Key players to watch in March Madness first round (2024)

Updates on key injuries ahead of tipoff in the first round.

Brad Crawford

The NCAA Tournament's first round tips off Thursday and several of college basketball's top players in March Madness have found a spot on the injury report, including a couple starters for Final Four contenders.Compiled by the CBS Sports research team,we've updated the latest on key injuries entering the first round of games as of Thursday morning.

Since most conference tournaments ended five days ago, players have had time to recuperate and rest ailments that slowed them down the stretch. That's not to say they're going to be 100%, however.

Before making final changes to your brackets, keep in mind how injuries could affect the favorites.The next few daysare spent hopelessly trying toproject the first round's biggestshockers and hoping your submissions aren't torched after the first weekend.The NCAA Tournament brings a great deal of excitement, including countless bracket-busting upsetsthat have defined college basketball's postseason all-time.

RELATED:Printable March Madness bracket;Make your picks, beat the experts

Here are a few of the biggest names in the NCAA Tournament on the injury report and their status for respective first round matchups:

Tyler Kolek, Marquette (oblique)

NCAA Tournament injury report: Key players to watch in March Madness first round (2)

Status:Expected to play

Tyler Kolek engaged in full-contact practice this week ahead of second-seeded Marquette's NCAA Tournament opener and that's great news for the Eagles. He missed the last six games for Marquette with a oblique injury. Kolek's 7.6 assists per game ranks second in college basketball.

"He has gone live, he has gone 5-on-5 up-and-down fullcourt," Marquette coach Shaka Smart said Wednesday. "He's done a lot of good things."

Braden Smith, Purdue (knee)

NCAA Tournament injury report: Key players to watch in March Madness first round (3)

Status:Expected to play

Braden Smith, an all-conference point guard, suffered a leg injury against Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament and Matt Painter said he wasn't going to risk a long-term injury with him. Smith's expected to start for the top-seeded Boilermakers this week.

“He’s a tough guy,” Purdue center Zach Edey said after the Big Ten Tournament. “I’ve never questioned if he’s gonna play, if he’s going to be fine. In high school, he played like half a season with a broken foot. He can go through pain. I have trust in him, whatever he’s going through, he’s going to get it figured out to be able to play.”

Myles Stute, South Carolina (hip)

NCAA Tournament injury report: Key players to watch in March Madness first round (4)

Status:Questionable

Myles Stutemissed several games due to various ailments, but right now, it's a hip pointer that's bothering the Gameco*cks guard.On Tuesday, CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein provided an update on Stute’s status heading into Thursday’s matchup versus Oregon, saying he should be "available in some capacity" according to a conversation he had with South Carolina coach Lamont Paris.The 6-foot-6, 209-pounder has scored in double figures in 13 games and is averaging 8.5 points per contest.

Kevin McCullar Jr., Kansas (knee)

NCAA Tournament injury report: Key players to watch in March Madness first round (5)

Status: Out

Kevin McCullar Jr.led the Big 12 in scoring during the regular season with 18.3 points per game. He shoots 45.4% from the field and 33.3% from deep. He also averages 6.0 rebounds per game. McCullar, a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award, averages 1.5 steals per game.He released a statement on Tuesday updating his health status:

“First, I'd like to address Jayhawk Nation, thank you for the support! In regard to me not playing in March Madness, if I could play, I would," McCullar Jr. wrote. "I am more devastated than anyone, knowing that I can't play & compete alongside my team and that my college career has now come to an end. I have done everything that I possibly could have done to get back playing at a high level to help my team. This included 6-7 hours a day with the training staff at Kansas for over a month now, while not participating in practice but competing in games.

"While trying various treatment options, it's simply not where it needs to be to play the game. With a collective agreement between myself, the coaches and the Kansas team doctors, it was decided that I should not play. This is the best time of the year and I wish I was able to help my brothers & KU on the court during this time, but unfortunately I cannot. I will be supporting them in Utah and the rest of this March run!”

Micah Handlogten, Florida (leg)

NCAA Tournament injury report: Key players to watch in March Madness first round (6)

Status: Out

Florida center Micah Handlogten will be in attendance for Friday's first round matchup with Colorado, but is not available to play. Florida coach Todd Golden said this week the team's spirits will be lifted knowing their big man is on the bench.

"It was a great job by Lynda Tealer, just helping us manage that whole situation. Obviously, a very unique situation, one you can't really plan for and really, I'm grateful for our administration and the way they've supported Micah and his family," Golden said, via Swamp247. "To come up with that idea and the plan, he was originally supposed to fly back here yesterday but that would have prevented him from being at our game but now he's staying there recovering and he'll drive up to Indianapolis and meet us and the team. I think it'll be a huge lift for him and kind of get his spirits back. He's honestly in great spirits, all things considered.

"Way better spirits than I'd be in, to be honest. But it's going to be a huge lift for the team also. It obviously shook everybody up a lot. I think we're still feeling it a little bit. But it gives us a great thing to rally around in the tournament. Everybody really respects Micah. Everybody loves him as a teammate. He's one of, if not the best, teammates that we have and to have him there I think will bring joy to everybody. My hope is that the guys want to do everything they can to play their butts off for him on Friday."

Hunter Dickinson, Kansas (shoulder)

NCAA Tournament injury report: Key players to watch in March Madness first round (7)

Status: Expected to play

According to Phog, Hunter Dickinson is a go in this week's first round and will have "no limitations" during play.Dickinson — whom the Big 12 named to its first team— has been as advertised during his first season with KU following his first three collegiate seasons at Michigan. The big man averaged 18 points and 10.8 rebounds per game during the regular season and was the only player in the Big 12 to average a double-double this season. He also earned finalist status for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, which goes annually to the nation’s top center.

Rylan Griffen, Alabama (calf)

NCAA Tournament injury report: Key players to watch in March Madness first round (8)

Status:Expected to play

Rylan Griffen was limited, but did play in the SEC Tournament last week for the Crimson Tide.

“Sometimes it’s not the worst to get your legs back up under you," Alabama coach Nate Oats said prior to his team's flight to Spokane, Washington this week. "I thought Rylen’s legs looked pretty good in his individual skill workouts and stuff. But he probably needed some game reps. Hopefully this gave it to him. Hopefully he plays a lot better this next weekend in the NCAA Tournament."

C.J. Wilcher, Nebraska (illness)

NCAA Tournament injury report: Key players to watch in March Madness first round (9)

Status: Expected to play

Despite "feeling pretty miserable" last week according to Huskers coach Fred Hoiberg, C.J. Wilker's had several days to rest and improve physically ahead of Nebraska's tournament opener. Nebraska plays ninth-seeded Texas A&M in Friday's opening round, giving Wilker nearly a full week to make sure his body is ready for 40 minutes of basketball in the NCAA Tournament. He should be ready to go.

NCAA Tournament injury report: Key players to watch in March Madness first round (2024)
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