2023 NCAA Tournament Key First-Round Injuries & Each Player’s Value to the Point Spread
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Marcus Sasser (Houston)
Every year, there are a few players for each team who miss out on a few games or the entire tournament. Those injuries have impactful value on how lines are set.
The injuries below are accounted for in this model, using a version of John Hollinger’s value added formula that has been modified for college basketball.
Essentially, it’s using each Player Efficiency Rating (PER) to determine how much better from a point value they are compared to an average replacement player in college basketball.
Key Injury Values
Marcus Sasser, Houston, Point Value 3.29
Marcus Sasser got injured in the semifinals of the AAC Tournament against Cincinnati and then did not play in the championship game against Memphis.
However, he did take part in the pregame shootaround before Houston’s outing vs. Memphis, so it seems he was held out for precautionary reasons.
He is most likely good to go for the NCAA tournament, but if he isn’t, that is a massive blow for Houston because he means everything to its offense.
Not only was he playing 84.6% of the available minutes during conference play, but he was also taking 26.4% of the Cougars’ shots when he’s on the floor.
As you can see, his offensive numbers are up there with some of the best in the country.
Image via ShotQuality
It’s no surprise that he’s Houston‘s most valuable player — worth 3.29 points to the spread.
Kevin McCullar Jr., Kansas, Point Value 1.38
McCullar missed the Big 12 Championship with a back injury and at the time of writing this, there is no news on his status for the NCAA tournament.
He is a loss for Kansas even if he hasn’t started the last few games. During Big 12 play, he was playing almost 80% of the available minutes, and outside of Jalen Wilson, he is Kansas’ second-best rebounder, with a 21% defensive rebounding percentage.
Losing him means losing another big guy for an already undersized Kansas team.
He also has the second-highest free-throw rate on the team and is shooting 76.6% from the free-throw line when he gets there.
Even though it won’t likely matter against Howard, if McCullar is out against Arkansas or Illinois, Kansas is going to be presented with a lot of problems defending and scoring down low.
Norchad Omier, Miami (FL), Point Value 3.36
While Miami has fantastic guards in Isaiah Wong and Nijel Pack, Norchad Omier is its most important player. He went down with an ankle injury in the first minute against Duke in the ACC Tournament and did not return.
He is being described as day-to-day by head coach Jim Larranaga.
Jim Larranaga just said on @CBSSportsNet that Miami's Norchad Omier (ankle) is day-to-day.
Averages 13.6 PPG and 9.7 RPG.
The Canes open the NCAA Tournament against Drake on Friday night.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 13, 2023
The reason Omier is so important is because he provides size down low for a Miami team that is severely lacking it. The Hurricanes are 226th in average height, and Omier is the only starter weighing in at over 200 pounds.
That’s a big problem when Drake’s 6-foot-10, 275-pound center Darnell Brodie is waiting in the first round.
Omier is also top-35 in the country in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Miami was an average defensive rebounding team overall this season, so losing him now makes the Canes a complete liability on the boards.
It’s not just his rebounding though; he’s an incredibly efficient scorer in the post and at the rim, shooting over 60% from inside the arc this season.
Image via ShotQuality
You can see why Omier is worth 3.36 points to the spread.
Jaylen Clark; UCLA, Point Value 2.57
UCLA was riding high and everything was heading in the right direction, but the season-ending Achilles injury for Jaylen Clark hampers it heading into March.
While Clark isn’t the offensive threat that Jaime Jaquez Jr. or Tyger Campbell are, he is incredibly important for the Bruins on the defensive end of the floor.
Clark is probably UCLA’s best on-ball defender to match up with opponents and is a big reason why UCLA is 11th in turnover percentage. Clark is eighth in the country in steal rate at 5.1%, per KenPom.
He is very efficient in transition and when it comes to attacking the rim. He is in the 88th percentile in the country for shotmaking.
Image via ShotQuality
Losing Clark is a big piece on both ends of the floor, which is why he’s worth 2.57 points to the spread.
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