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Ryan Evans Injury: Senior Questionable for Sunday With Knee Sprain

Evans' injury is "only" a knee sprain, suggesting his longer-term availability might not be in jeopardy beyond Sunday's Senior Day game vs. Purdue. Wisconsin's starting forward has appeared in all 131 games of his career to date.

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Evans Suffered Knee Sprain, Questionable on Sunday

Perhaps we can breathe easy.

Via its official Twitter page, Wisconsin announced that Ryan Evans suffered "only" a knee sprain in practice on Thursday. The quotes are necessary there because while it seems as though a more significant injury was avoided, Evans' short-term availability is unknown. The Badgers host Purdue on Sunday for Senior Day before traveling to Michigan State on Thursday.

We'll see how Evans is handled with that critical game vs. the Spartans potentially deciding the conference's upper-echelon seeding in advance of this month's Big Ten Tournament. Wisconsin and Michigan State are tied at 11-4, one game behind Indiana. The Spartans travel to Michigan on Sunday before facing Wisconsin and ending their season vs. Northwestern at home. The Hoosiers host Iowa on Saturday and Ohio State on Tuesday, then wrap their season at Michigan on March 10.

Also, @BadgerMBB pointed out Evans has has appeared in all 131 games of his career -- before adding "Hope that streak continues." We'll see on Sunday how much of an indicator that last sentence is intended to be.

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Update on Ryan Evans Expected Friday

Wisconsin fans have been eagerly anticipating information regarding the status of Ryan Evans after the senior forward left practice on Thursday with a knee injury. It appears an update will be coming later Friday afternoon.

From Wisconsin's official men's basketball Twitter page:

Much of the Badgers' fan base has been highly critical of Evan's struggles this year, as the senior has seen his points per game average and shooting percentages drop from previous years. Evans' 10.5 points-per-game are close to his 11.0 from 2011-12, but his 39.3 percent mark from the field and 8.7 percent from three-point range are significantly lower than his 39.3 and 26.3 percent figures, respectively. Evans' free throw struggles have garnered the most criticism, considering the senior forward is shooting 41.4 percent from the free throw line after never dipping below 61.3 percent, which was his freshman-season total.

Nevertheless, as Jackson Dahlquist laid out in this morning's Badger Bits, losing Evans for any period of time this late in the season -- a potentially season-defining game at Michigan State looms next week, not to mention this Sunday is Wisconsin's Senior Day -- would be awful.

All Badger fans should hope his injury is of only the day-to-day variety, because disturbing the nice eight-man rotation Wisconsin is rolling with right now would be devastating. The boys have won seven of nine, are playing their best basketball of the year at the right time and still have a legitimate shot to come out on top of this crazy Big Ten title race.

If you set aside Evans' above-average defensive skills and that rebounding prowess (he ranks third in the Big Ten in that category), the Badgers simply aren't as dangerous. Look at Michigan State -- if Evans misses that game next Thursday at the Breslin Center, matching up with Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix down low becomes a nightmare. Frank Kaminsky is the ideal role player for the Badgers because he can mix it up off the bench, but asking him to effectively defend either of those players for 30 minutes isn't realistic.

We'd like to limit any speculation, of course, but one thing that might be worth taking heed of: the Badgers were pretty quick in announcing Josh Gasser's season-ending torn ACL back in October, sending out a press release on a Saturday night after he suffered the injury in practice earlier that morning. Granted, Wisconsin did have a football game -- that heartbreaking loss to Michigan State -- to slip that news out during.

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Wisconsin Without Ryan Evans

We'll see what comes of Evans' knee injury, but one thing is clear: Wisconsin cannot afford to lose their senior forward at this juncture in the season.

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