The Lehigh Mountain Hawks were dealt a crushing blow on Sunday afternoon when X-rays confirmed that C.J. McCollum, who is currently No. 2 in the nation in scoring with 23.9 points per game, will miss eight to 10 weeks with a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot, according to a tweet by ESPN's Andy Katz.
Lehigh's Brett Reed says in text CJ McCollum has broken 5th metatarsal in left foot. Out 8-10 weeks. Crushing blow to All-American, Lehigh.— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) January 6, 2013
McCollum, who entered Saturday as the nation's leading scorer, hobbled off the court during Lehigh's game at Virginia Commonwealth and did not return.
Without McCollum, this Lehigh team will be in some trouble.
The Mountain Hawks' chances of repeating as Patriot League champions and returning to the NCAA tournament were already in jeopardy because of a talented Bucknell team that nearly knocked off nationally ranked Missouri over the weekend.
Even without its star guard, Lehigh is the second-best team in its conference. Mackey McKnight is possibly the top point guard in the league, averaging 12 points and 5.3 assists per game, although he is turnover-prone, with four giveaways per contest.
Gabe Knutson and Holden Greiner make up a very strong and competitive frontcourt.
The timetable given for McCollum's recovery shows that he could return, at the earliest, for the Patriot League conference tournament or even the final few games of the regular season. At the latest, McCollum should return for a postseason tournament if the Mountain Hawks qualify.
At this point, Bucknell is the clear favorite for the regular-season championship. Forward Mike Muscala should wind up winning Patriot League Player of the Year, and his supporting cast could feasibly help the Bison to a perfect 14-0 record in the conference.
What Lehigh has to hope for is a second-place finish in the conference and then for McCollum to return in time for the conference tournament so that the Mountain Hawks will be able to make a run to the Big Dance.