The University of North Carolina is preparing to play the rest of the national men’s college basketball tournament without record-setting point guard Kendall Marshall, who had surgery two days ago to repair a broken wrist.
“Our preparation is 100 percent to play without Kendall,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said at a news conference following yesterday’s practice.
North Carolina (31-5) is the top seed in the Midwest Regional and plays against Ohio University on March 23 in St. Louis. The winner advances to the final eight of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament against either Kansas or North Carolina State.
Marshall, who set a school record with 351 assists this season, broke the scaphoid bone in his right wrist in the final minutes of a March 18 win over Creighton. The left-hander has his wrist in a cast and his availability for the rest of the tournament isn’t known.
The national semifinals are set for March 31, with the championship two days later in New Orleans.
Williams said the team is making preparations to be without its on-court leader, who he has called “indispensable.”
“It was a terrible bus ride back, it was quiet as it could be,” Williams said of the team’s return from the game in Greensboro, North Carolina. “It’s my job to convince them that we can win Friday. That’s the only thing we’re focusing on.”
Freshman Stilman White and senior Justin Watts played point guard in practice yesterday. They combined to average 1.9 points and 0.3 assists off the bench this season.
North Carolina is a 10 1/2-point favorite against Ohio, which reached the final 16 as a No. 13 seed. The Tar Heels’ odds of winning the NCAA championship remain 6-1, tied with Michigan State as the third-favorite behind Kentucky and Ohio State, according to the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino’s sportsbook. North Carolina entered the tournament as the second favorite.