Roy Williams and the Tar Heel Nation are about to find out exactly how important Dexter Strickland was to their chances of making it to the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans.
ESPN.com reports that Dexter Strickland, North Carolina's starting shooting guard and best perimeter defender, is out for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.
Even though the 6'3" junior was only averaging 7.5 ppg, his value to the Tar Heels was unmistakable when it came to on-the-ball defense, quickness and overall toughness.
Williams is not without options when it comes to replacing Strickland, though.
He will most likely turn to either 6'7" sophomore Reggie Bullock or 6'6" freshman P.J. Hairston, both of whom are good outside shooters who are in mid-season shooting slumps.
Bullock (8.4 ppg; 4.4 rpg), a slightly better rebounder of the two, has only knocked down 5-of-18 three's (27.7 percent) in the last four games. Hairston has only hit on four of his last 19 (21.1 percent) shots from beyond the arc in that same time period.
Since these two are struggling, could Roy Williams slide Harrison Barnes over from shooting forward to shooting guard?
At 6'8" and 215 pounds, Barnes (17.4 ppg; 4.8 rpg) would be a backcourt matchup nightmare. He is also the team's best three-point shooter (43.6 percent).
If Williams went in this direction, he could "go really big" and insert freshman forward James Michael McAdoo (6'9"; 5.4 ppg; 3.6 rpg) into the starting lineup.
While this sounds intriguing, the Heels would seriously lack outside shooting with this combination. Tyler Zeller, John Henson and McAdoo have not attempted a single three-point shot this entire season.
The Tar Heels have nearly a week to figure it all out. North Carolina steps on the court Thursday night (Jan. 26) at home against NC State.
Prediction: Reggie Bullock will get the first shot at the now-vacant SG role in the UNC starting five.