Zion Williamson injury update: Duke freshman star expected to return for Blue Devils' ACC Tournament opener

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Saturday night that Zion Williamson is on track to make his return on action on Thursday when the Blue Devils begin their ACC Tournament action in the quarterfinals. 

Even after the 79-70 loss to North Carolina, Duke has secured the double-bye in the ACC Tournament and will have nearly a full week to get Williamson back into game shape before the postseason begins. Krzyzewski said that Williamson worked out with the team on Saturday morning in a non-contact fashion, with full contact practice beginning on Monday. 

The loss of Williamson was particularly notable on Saturday night with Duke also losing starting center Marques Bolden to a knee injury in the first three minutes of the game. Without Williamson and Bolden, Duke was left with just Javin DeLaurier and Jack White as big men in an already-short rotation. 

Krzyzewski announced after the game that Bolden has been diagnosed with an MCL sprain, which he considered a good result given the potential for a more devastating injury after seeing the big man get helped off the floor and to the locker room. 

"We've had combat injuries," Krzyzewski said, noting that these game-changing injuries to Zion, Bolden and even Tre Jones' shoulder earlier in the year have been in competitive game situations. The Hall of Fame coach did not seem concerned with the impact that injuries have had on this year's team, apparently chalking it up to the cost of engaging in the battle for college basketball supremacy. 

Luckily for the Blue Devils, Williamson's return is much more than simply a boost to the team's depth. Krzyzewski said Saturday night that there's no "unknowns" about what Duke will look like when the National Player of the Year favorite is back on the floor. It's basically just down to Zion getting back into game shape, and when that happens there doesn't seem to be any concern about Duke returning to the form it had prior to that fateful shoe exploding in Cameron Indoor Stadium earlier this season. 

CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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