Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Injuries happen.
Nobody is immune. Some are more severe than others, some come at the most inopportune of times and some can put the NCAA Tournament selection committee in a very tricky bind.
Justin Anderson's dramatic improvement from his sophomore to junior campaign helped Virginia race out to a 19-0 start, while Briante Weber's relentless defense made him the engine of Shaka Smart's "Havoc" defense.
One will definitely not be back this season, the other may not return either.
Anderson fractured a finger on his left shooting hand during Virginia's 52-47 victory over Louisville on Saturday night and the star guard is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks. If he's out for four weeks, he'd be slated to return in time for the ACC Tournament, but six weeks would possibly mean missing the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
The southpaw leads the ACC in 3-point shooting at 48.4 percent. His marksmanship from long distance stretches the floor for the Cavaliers, who don't have too many other viable options from beyond the arc. Anderson is also a very active defender, using his strength, athleticism and lateral quickness.
So how do you seed Virginia if it has some troubles down the stretch? It's an interesting question. Kansas was without star center Joel Embiid for the first weekend of last year's NCAA Tournament, but was still slotted as a No. 2 seed. The Jayhawks lost to 10th-seeded Stanford in the third round.
The senior point guard Weber tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus on Jan. 31 when his knee buckled on a jump stop in the paint late in the second half of the Rams' 64-55 loss to Richmond.
Weber was the prototype for Smart's press-heavy scheme. He was an exceptional on-the-ball defender with phenomenal hand-eye coordination. He was highly athletic to go with a 6-foot-7 wingspan. His non-stop motor and fearlessness energized the crowd. And maybe most importantly, he was a leader that'll be difficult to replace. Weber was just 12 swipes shy of tying the NCAA career record for steals. Per Ken Pomeroy, Weber led the nation in steals percentage in each of the last three seasons.
The Rams have been a top-10 RPI team for months, but the committee will most likely seed them based on their play following the injury. If they can keep winning, it should result in a 4-to-6 seed range, but VCU lost to Saint Bonaventure on Saturday. The Rams, however, were also without leading scorer Treveon Graham, who aggravated an ankle sprain during Wednesday's win at George Mason.
Old Dominion will keep tabs on VCU the most. The Monarchs, who are right in the thick of the bubble discussion, defeated the fully-healthy Rams on Nov. 29. It was their lone top-25 RPI victory. It'll be interesting how the committee handles a potential situation where they don't win the Conference USA Tournament and the Rams lose some games down the stretch.
Player exits have affected seeding in the past.
The 1990 Loyola Marymount squad was ranked 21st in the AP Poll when the high- scoring Lions blew out Portland State in the West Coast Conference Tournament title game. Except tragedy struck during the game when junior Hank Gathers, who led the country in scoring and rebounding, collapsed and died at midcourt due to an irregular heartbeat. LMU received a No. 11 seed in the Big Dance and Bo Kimble, who famously shot free throws left-handed in honor of his fallen teammate, led the Lions to an emotional run all of the way to the Elite Eight.
Cincinnati, the top-ranked team in the AP Poll heading into championship week in 2000, suffered a loss when Kenyon Martin broke his leg in the conference tournament. The Bearcats were handed a two seed and eventually lost to Tulsa on the first weekend.
Patty Mills guided Saint Mary's to an 18-1 start in 2009, but broke his hand, costing him the second half of the WCC season. He was unable to shake off the rust in the conference tournament and the Gaels were left hanging on Selection Sunday.
VCU and Virginia will undoubtedly be in the field of 68, but if they can overcome the adversity and keep winning, seeding them won't be complicated.
1. Kentucky* vs. 16. New Mexico State*/Alabama State* winner
8. Stanford vs. 9. Seton Hall
4. North Carolina vs. 13. Murray State*
5. Oklahoma State vs. 12. George Washington/Temple*
6. Indiana vs. 11. Wofford*
3. Notre Dame vs. 14. UC Davis*
7. Georgetown vs. 10. Ole Miss
2. Kansas* vs. 15. NC Central*
1. Duke vs. 16. Gardner Webb*
8. Cincinnati vs. 9. Texas
4. Utah vs. 13. Eastern Washington*
5. Butler vs. 12. Tulsa*
6. VCU* vs. 11. Miami-Florida/Old Dominion winner
3. Baylor vs. 14. Bowling Green*
7. Arkansas vs. 10. San Diego State*
2. Wisconsin* vs. 15. Albany*
1. Virginia* vs. 16. Saint Francis-NY*/Bucknell* winner
8. Xavier vs. 9. Dayton
4. Maryland vs. 13. Stephen F. Austin*
5. Northern Iowa* vs. 12. Iona*
6. Providence vs. 11. Illinois
3. Iowa State vs. 14. Valparaiso*
7. SMU vs. 10. Georgia
2. Arizona* vs. 15. UL Monroe*
WEST (Los Angeles)
1. Gonzaga* vs. 16. North Dakota State*
8. Iowa vs. 9. Colorado State
4. Oklahoma vs. 13. Louisiana Tech*
5. Wichita State* vs. 12. Harvard*
6. West Virginia vs. 11. St. John's
3. Louisville vs. 14. William & Mary*
7. Ohio State vs. 10. LSU
2. Villanova* vs. 15. Florida Gulf Coast*
FIRST FOUR OUT
NEXT FOUR OUT
* - denotes conference leader. In a result of a tie atop the standings, the team with the higher RPI was chosen.