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It would be heartbreaking if Verdell Jones misses the NCAA Tournament

spt-120308-verdelljones

Mike Miller

Verdell Jones suffered what looked to be an ugly knee injury in Indiana’s first round win over Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament.

Going full speed on a fast break, Jones game to a jump stop at the foul line and had his right knee give out. He immediately curled into a ball and grabbed his knee, grimacing in what appeared to be excruciating pain. Everyone assumed the worst.

Thankfully, it appears as if the injury is just a sprain. (UPDATE: Or maybe not. Tom Crean was on the verge of tears on the postgame radio show talking about it. “It’s not good,” he said.)

The problem, however, is that a sprained knee -- particularly one that is bad enough you need to be put into a wheel chair to leave the gym -- takes a while to heal. Jones doesn’t have a while. In just over a week, the NCAA Tournament starts.

Jones is a senior. He’s been a part of the Indiana program for three years. He was on all three of Tom Crean’s teams that struggled. Any injury that forces a player to miss time is awful. When that injury happens to a senior who will, finally, be getting a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament it is just heart-breaking.

Losing Jones hurts IU. But that’s not what is important right now. Barring a fairly miraculous recovery, it looks like Jones is going to miss the one and only NCAA Tournament that he would be able to be a part of.

Not even Purdue fans would wish that on Jones.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.