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Injuries and NCAA Tournament Seeding

How does the selection committee deal with injuries?


Injuries and NCAA Tournament Seeding

Hank Gathers

Getty Images / Tom DeFrisco
Updated May 08, 2011
The Purdue Boilermakers have spent most of the 2009-10 season as co-favorites to win the Big Ten and be in the mix for a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Sadly, any chance of winning a top seed went out the window when star forward Robbie Hummel tore the ACL in his right knee.

Of course, Purdue isn't the first team to lose a key player in the weeks before March Madness. Here's a look at how the selection committee has dealt with similar situations in the past.

2000 - Kenyon Martin's Broken Leg Costs Bearcats a One Seed

The best-known example of a seeding impacted by a key injury is the 2000 Cincinnati Bearcats. Led by forward Kenyon Martin, Cincy was the top-ranked team in the AP poll heading into championship week -- obviously a strong candidate for a number one seed. But Martin suffered a broken leg during the A-10 Tournament, leaving the selection committee with a tough choice: seed the Bearcats based on their performance to that point, or seed the team based on their Martin-less roster.

The Bearcats were given a two seed, which turned out to be a touch too high. Cincinnati lost to Tulsa in the second round.

2009 - Patty Mills' Injury Costs St. Mary's an Invite?

Australian point guard Patty Mills -- fresh off an impressive run at the Beijing Olympics -- led St. Mary's to an 18-1 start and a spot in the top 25. But a broken hand cost Mills the second half of the West Coast Conference season, and by the time he returned -- for the conference tournament -- he had little opportunity to shake off the rust. When Mills was on the floor, the Gaels were clearly deserving of a ticket to the big dance -- but his questionable status became a big reason St. Mary's was left hanging on Selection Sunday.

1990 - Loyola Marymount's Sweet Sixteen Run

Led by the NBA-ready tandem of Hank Gathers -- who led the NCAA in scoring and rebounding as a junior -- and Bo Kimble, the high-scoring Lions were in the process of blowing out Portland State in the West Coast Conference championship game, when something went terribly wrong. Gathers -- who was taking medication for an irregular heartbeat -- collapsed at midcourt. Doctors were unable to revive him.

The Lions received an 11 seed in the tournament -- very low for a team ranked 21st in the nation in the AP Polls. Behind stellar play from Kimble -- who famously shot free-throws left-handed to honor his fallen teammmate -- went on an emotional run. They scored 111 points on New Mexico State in the first round, dropped 149 on three-seed Michigan in the second, and then squeaked past second-seeded Alabama in the third round before losing to eventual champion UNLV.

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