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Kyrie Irving Could Return To Play In NCAA Tournament First Round Vs. Hampton

Kyrie Irving is expected to play in the first round fo the 2011 NCAA Tournament, though the man himself says "there's still no guarantee." The Duke freshman has been out since early December with a toe injury, and had been thought to be out for the season, but Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski started hinting earlier this week that Irving could return, all the while cautioning the decision was "far away."

By Tuesday night's press conference that got upgraded to "There is a chance he could play" after Irving successfully practiced with the team. Then ESPN's Jay Williams tweeted that Coach K had "confirmed" Irving's participation before backtracking to "clarify" that he'd only been referencing the original press conference quote.

It's indicative of the effect Irving would have on this bracket -- not to mention your bracket -- that ESPN personalities are fumbling over themselves in hopes of his return. We'll find out for sure by Friday, when Duke takes on Hampton. Before his injury, Irving was leading Duke in assists and all freshmen in scoring.

For more on Irving and Duke basketball, visit SB Nation's Duke Basketball Report.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.