The worst case scenario has now become reality for Tom Izzo and his Michigan State Spartans.
Star point-man and floor general, Kalin Lucas, will miss four to six months due to a ruptured Achilles' tendon.
Lucas tweaked his ankle/heel Sunday in the Spartans' dramatic 85-83 win over Greivis Vasquez and the Maryland Terrapins in March Madness' "round-of-32."
The injury to its star is something that Michigan State has dealt with already, just a month and a half ago.
On Feb. 2's 76-64 loss to Wisconsin, Lucas descended awkwardly from a routine jump shot, only to land on Keaton Nankivil's foot. That "tweaking" of the ankle sidelined Michigan State's leader for the better part of three games; three games that the Spartans dropped.
Talk about bad timing: Michigan State was well on its way to running away with the Big Ten's regular season championship. Sparty bounced back, and ended up sharing the league's pie with Purdue and Ohio State.
If losing his top-scoring threat in the middle of a conference title run wasn't disappointing enough, imagine how Tom Izzo reacted when he learned that his No. 1 guard will be out until late summer/early fall.
To make matters worse, Izzo has now found himself in the thick of a national championship race—the guy just can't catch a break.
Michigan State's veteran coach has been forced to manage suspensions, injuries, and the media over the last couple of months. Izzo has had to make do with what he was given, and he was given more than a handful of problems that would drive most men up the wall.
Mr. March smiles in the face of adversity.
He welcomes the challenge of critics, analysts, and sports writers reporting that "Michigan State can't do it this year."
Lucas is out for the rest of the season, he has to accept that.
What Izzo doesn't have to accept is defeat—and he won't.
There is another capable point-guard that plays for him: Korie Lucious.
Lucious has shown glimpses of greatness in 2010. His three-point shot on Sunday to send the Terps packing could have been a sign of things to come.
Although he's no Lucas, he is a Spartan guard.
Spartan guards have the reputation of being more than good. Lucious will likely take over when Lucas graduates—there is no better time than now for the 5'11" Milwaukee native to get acclimated to his future role.
When Lucas was sidelined in Feb., Lucious didn't exactly dazzle his nay-sayers with his play. Turnovers, poor shot selection, and the overall pressure of carrying the Spartans hampered his success.
It is now March, things are different.
Lucious understands just how important protecting the ball and making smart decisions will be from here on out.
He's more than able to do it.
For the most part, the Spartan offense is ran through Lucas.
Now, Lucious will have to facilitate the hot-handed Durrell Summers, and the physical Draymond Green.
Raymar Morgan's recent reliability would help, too.
All is not lost for the Spartans.
Izzo has been here before. In both senses of the word. He has dealt with an injury to his offensive spark-plug, and he has played his way into the Final Four in the midst of a crisis.
Showing their true colors is what March is all about for the Spartans.
The madness will continue without Lucas, who can still be the heart and soul of his team from the bench.
The ball is now in Lucious' hands.