Barring a catastrophic collapse, Nevada is going to be in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. After a great win on the road against Boise State, the Wolf Pack improved to 22-5. They’re currently ranked No. 24 in the AP Poll, and have been a top 20 Kenpom team for almost a month now.
Nevada, quite simply, is one of the best teams in the country. This isn’t news to us. However, the injury bug has reared its nasty head and bitten the Wolf Pack, and it raises some questions about Nevada’s ceiling moving forward.
Following last night’s win over the Broncos, Nevada head coach Eric Musselman announced that Lindsey Drew would be out for the rest of the season with a torn Achilles. The injury happened at the end of the first half as Drew attempted a full-court heave at the buzzer.
Just last week, it was announced that Caleb Martin had a Lisfranc sprain in his left foot, which would have ended the season for most players. Martin missed one game, but has since returned to play in the last two contests. Martin has been Nevada’s best player this year, and it goes without saying that he’s integral to their postseason success.
With the talent that Eric Musselman has assembled, Nevada has the potential to be a second weekend team in the NCAA Tournament. Would anyone be surprised if they picked off a high seed in the second round?
The recent injuries and the state of Nevada’s roster raises concerns about their potential, though. The Wolf Pack are not a deep team by any means, and have traditionally relied on a rotation of seven guys this season.
With Drew out of the mix, Nevada is down to just seven eligible scholarship players. This season, Nevada has just seven guys that are averaging at least 10 minutes per game. Without Drew, that number is down to six.
Nevada will likely move forward with a rotation of Jordan Caroline, Caleb and Cody Martin, Kendall Stephens, Josh Hall and Hallice Cooke. Elijah Foster could see spot minutes here and there, but he hasn’t played significant minutes in almost a month. Cooke will be particularly important as he will be next in line to fill in at the point guard spot.
Nevada still has the horses to be a threat in the postseason, but the margin for error seems to be shrinking by the game. If Martin’s foot flares up, or if another player gets banged up, that could be enough to crumble the Wolf Pack’s season.
Nevada has five games left in the regular season, including a pair of road games against UNLV and San Diego State to end the season. They’ll then have the chance to defend their Mountain West title in Las Vegas. After that, it’ll be time to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament.
That is, if injuries don’t get to them first.
A previous version of this article referred to Nevada as the Wolfpack instead of the Wolf Pack. After being berated in the comments section for this egregious mistake, it has been corrected. The author has been reprimanded and will be reviewing his role with this blog.