BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (KTRK) -- Is Marcus Sasser playing in March Madness?
Beyond the search-engine optimization opportunities this question poses, the query was the most asked during University of Houston's media availability on Wednesday before the No. 1 team in the NCAA Tournament's Midwest Region hits the floor against 16-seed Northern Kentucky.
Sasser is officially a game-time decision to play in a matchup that Caesars Sportsbook favors the Houston Cougars to win by 18 points, as of Wednesday afternoon.
"If I can go, I will go," Sasser told ABC13's Adam Winkler, who's in Birmingham, Alabama, with the Coogs.
The new Associated Press All-America First-Team selection added that his rehabilitation for his groin injury is going well.
And to add some fortune on UH's side, Sasser took the floor during a 40-minute-long workout during the afternoon. An ABC13 camera captured Sasser not appearing to be in any pain at practice.
According to Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson, the senior guard "did some things," "broke a sweat," and he did some shooting drills but not at full speed.
Sampson acknowledged to reporters that Sasser would have played in Houston's American Athletic Conference tournament final loss if it were up to him.
"Sometimes as a coach, you got to save them from themselves, but I'm not going to jeopardize him or our team," Sampson said.
Speaking to whether there's any value in sitting his star for games beyond Northern Kentucky, Sampson pointed out the difficulty of coming out on top during the tournament.
PREVIOUS STORY: Marcus Sasser injury news under wraps as No. 1 Houston prepares for No. 16 Northern Kentucky
"I know how hard it is to win a game. If the doctors think he can play and he wants to play, he'll play," Sampson said.
He added that otherwise one of the other "scholarship" members of the Cougars will slide in, once again reminding the public that he's focused on only the next game.
The Coogs face the Northern Kentucky Norse in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on Thursday at 8:20 p.m.
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