Will Irving play again this season?

FoxSports.com's Jeff Goodman examines whether or not the Duke chance to repeat just took a big hit.

Shortly after Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski uttered the words "season ending" in the same sentence as Kyrie Irving's inflamed big toe, the speculation began to run rampant.

If Irving is out for the remainder of the year, as Coach K speculated could be the case, everyone else has a shot at the national title. However, let's not get ahead of ourselves here – as we did by basically handing the Blue Devils back-to-back championships.

It's highly unlikely Irving will play in the next month or so, but there's still a measure of optimism he'll return for the heart of ACC play. "Nothing's been determined at this time," Irving's father, Dredrick, told FOXSports.com on Thursday morning. "They're waiting for some of the swelling to subside and then they'll truly be able to assess the magnitude of the situation."

"All we can do it sit back and wait. I think we'll know something definitive in the next 10 days, but right now there's a lot of uncertainty." Everywhere.

Fans from Ohio State to the state of Kansas down to Kentucky all understand that, without Irving running the team in Durham, the chance that their team can win it all will increase significantly.

However, even with Irving, Duke is far from a lock to go back to back.

Sure, the Duke freshman has been even better than advertised and – along with the emergence of Mason Plumlee and Andre Dawkins and the addition of Seth Curry – has made the Blue Devils the clear-cut favorites to cut down the nets in April.

"If there's a player who had made a bigger impact for his team than Kyrie Irving, I don't know who it is," Kansas State coach Frank Martin said. "But it's not as if you'd be replacing him with a reserve. There's a reason Kyrie was able to be so successful so quickly — and it's because those other guys are so good."

Said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo: "I'm a huge Kyrie Irving fan and it wouldn't just be disappointing for Duke, but also for college basketball if he's out for the rest of the year. I love him - I think he's a class guy and is good for college basketball. Even though Duke will still be very good, you'd be taking away a premier player and a quarterback who makes others go."

People are already acting as though this Duke team – if Irving does return to 100 percent this season from the toe injury that is putting his college future in jeopardy – is a guarantee to win the national title again.

Need we offer a reminder that last year's Kansas team – one that featured the veteran inside-out duo of Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich and talented freshman wing Xavier Henry – was knocked out on the first weekend by Northern Iowa.

Sure, the Dukies will be the heavy favorites, and rightfully so if Irving is able to play again at full strength this season. But they remain vulnerable – with or without him.

Remember, the Michigan State team that got smacked in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night put significant pressure on them over in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Coach K admitted following the team's win against Bradley on Wednesday night that Irving "could be out for a long time."

"Kyrie's injury is a serious one. It's being evaluated by our medical team here at Duke and other foot injury experts," he said. "Some type of analysis should be done hopefully in a week to 10 days. A course of action will be taken based on that analysis. It is serious." The loss of Irving – arguably the top point guard in the country and a National Player of the Year candidate – would certainly alter things significantly in Durham.

It would likely mean that Nolan Smith, who has thrived playing off the ball, would have to run the team again — an experiment that didn't work well back when he was a sophomore. Curry will also see time at the point guard spot.

It'll also mean that senior Kyle Singler will have to become more assertive on the offensive end than he's been through the first nine games of the season. Duke still has two of the elite players in America with Smith and Singler, but the margin of error would certainly shrink significantly without the guy who has already made himself into a lottery pick and even potentially the No.1 pick in June's NBA Draft.

The Blue Devils wouldn't be nearly as intimidating and overpowering without Irving, but they still have a shot at hanging another banner.

"It would add a different dimension to the dynamic," Dredrick Irving said. "But Coach K is a genius, and I'm sure he'd tweak the offense to create something that's conducive to the team like he did last year."

"But there's still an element of uncertainty," the elder Irving added. "There's the possibility he can be back in three games or that he could be out the entire season. No one really knows."

Kyrie Irving tweeted the following on Thursday morning: "Situation not looking good and I'm not feeling good...smh worst thing ever."

It doesn't sound promising, but Coach K and the Blue Devils still have a shot to win another one – even if Irving's season is over.

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