Key 2021 NCAA Tournament First-Round Injuries & Each Player’s Value to the Point Spread
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Collin Gillespie
The NCAA Tournament bracket is set, but the rosters for the individual teams are not. There are several key injury updates that savvy bettors are waiting to hear before placing their wagers.
Here’s the latest information on the most important injury questions before the tournament starts in full on Thursday, complete with BJ Cunningham’s projected spread value for key injured players.
Key Injury Values
- Team: Drake
- Value: 2.21 points
- Update: The Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Year has been out since foot surgery on February 11. The Green Bay Phoenix transfer led the Bulldogs with 14.1 PPG and would give Drake a huge boost in their opening round matchup against Wichita State.
- Team: Villanova
- Value: 2.13 points
- Update: The senior point guard suffered a torn MCL in the Wildcats 72-60 over Creighton on March 3. Gillespie was Villanova’s second-leading scorer (14 PPG) and team leader in assists (4.6 per game) while shooting 37.6% from 3P.
His absence puts a greater need for production from sophomore Chris Arcidiacono (0.3 PPG, 1.2 RPG), who played 34 minutes in their 72-71 Big East Tournament semi-final loss to Georgetown.
- Team: Alabama
- Value: 0.3 points
- Update: The 6-foot-6 freshman has played a key bench role all season for Alabama. Primo is averaging 8.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and shooting 39% from beyond the arc. He suffered a sprained MCL in the SEC Tournament quarterfinal win over Mississippi State, and missed the next two games against Tennessee and LSU.
Primo is expected to return for Alabama’s opening matchup against Iona, which would provide valuable depth against the up-tempo and attacking Gaels.
Primo hit his season-high of 22 points twice, in road SEC games against LSU and Auburn. He also combined to shoot 10 of 16 from 3-point range in those contests.
- Team: Michigan
- Value: 2.26 points
- Update: The stress fracture to Isaiah Livers’ foot may be the most impactful injury of this year’s NCAA Tournament. The injury happened during Michigan’s 79-66 win over Maryland in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.He is the second-leading scorer for the Wolverines, averaging 13 points, six rebounds, and shooting 43.1% from 3P (116 attempts). Michigan’s four-out/one-in offense is predicated on quality shooting from beyond the arc, and the loss of the 6-foot-7 senior is a huge blow to one of the best teams in college basketball this season. It is possible Livers could miss the entire tournament.
- Team: Tennessee
- Value: 1.42 points
- Update: The Volunteers’ senior forward suffered facial injuries as a result of an elbow from Florida’s Omar Payne in the SEC Tournament. Fulkerson missed Tennessee’s semifinal loss to Alabama, but is expected to return for the Volunteers’ opening round matchup against Pac-12 Tournament champion Oregon State.
- Team: UC-Santa Barbara
- Value: 1.18
- Update: The No. 12-seeded Gauchos are hoping to have starting guard Ajare Sanni (11.2 PPG, 39.8% 3P) back for their battle with fifth-seeded Creighton. Sanni rolled his ankle in UCSB’s 79-63 win over UC Irvine in the Big West Tournament final.
Sanni is a critical piece to a Gauchos team that has won 18 of its past 19 games, He was also just named the Big West Sixth Player of the Year. Sanni is currently listed as day-to-day by head coach Joe Pasternack.
David McCormack, Jalen Wilson, Tristan Enaruna
- Team: Kansas
- Update: Due to COVID protocols, Kansas will play Eastern Washington in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament without David McCormack (13.4 PPG), Jalen Wilson (12.1 PPG), and reserve Tristan Enaruna (2.8 PPG). This is a significant issue against an explosive Eastern Washington offense that ranks 40th in the country with 78 points per game. The loss of McCormack’s presence inside and Wilson’s defense on the perimeter will be tested by the relentless EWU attack.
The Jayhawks offense has also struggled throughout the year, and losing Wilson’s scoring, McCormack’s rebounding, and Enaruna’s depth put even more emphasis on the high scoring variation of Ochai Agbaji and Marcus Garrett.
- Team: Iowa
- Value: 1.25 points
- Update: Nunge played a critical bench role for the high-powered Hawkeyes, serving as the backup for Player of the Year candidate Luka Garza. Nunge averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in just over 15 minutes per game.
Iowa has played without Nunge for seven games since Feb. 25, but his absence is certainly worth considering as the Hawkeyes potentially face Oregon or VCU in Round 2.
- Team: Ohio State
- Value: 1.61 points
- Update: The senior forward suffered his second concussion within the last three weeks in the Buckeyes’ Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal win over Purdue. Young did not play in Ohio State’s 68-67 win over Michigan or their 91-88 OT loss to Illinois in the final.
Young plays more than 26 minutes per game and does so many critical things for the Buckeyes, especially as an 84.6% free throw shooter. His status is unknown for Ohio State’s opening round game against Oral Roberts.
- Team: Virginia
- Update: The fourth-seeded Cavaliers needed to forfeit their ACC semi-final matchup with Georgia Tech due to COVID protocols. The entire Virginia team is currently in quarantine, and we have not received any information regarding the player who tested positive. The status of the entire team is unknown, and as a result, the point spread on this game has dropped to only Virginia -7.
- Team: Arkansas
- Value: 0.36 points
- Update: Williams had missed the last four games for undisclosed reasons, but did travel with the Razorbacks for the SEC Tournament. The 245-pound freshman averaged 3.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and one block per game in 16 minutes per game this season. Williams really impressed with 13 points and eight rebounds in the Razorbacks 81-66 win over Alabama on Feb. 24.