The North Carolina Tar Heels' title hopes took a huge hit on Sunday.
Despite cruising past No. 8 Creighton 87-73, the main concern was about the health of star point guard Kendall Marshall.
UPDATE: Sunday, March 25 at 4:12 p.m. EST
UNC's Kendall Marshall took to Twitter this afternoon in regards to missing the Elite 8 game vs. Kansas.
Nothing hurts more than not being able to physically help your team, but I'm here with them spiritually now more than ever. #PassFir5t— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) March 25, 2012
UPDATE: Sunday, March 25 at 3:51 p.m. EST
North Carolina has finally confirmed that Kendall Marshall will not play today vs. Kansas, according to the official UNC Basketball Twitter account.
Kendall Marshall will not play or be in uniform today. Stilman White will start.— UNC Hoops (@UNC_Basketball) March 25, 2012
UPDATE: Sunday, March 25 at 3:30 p.m. EST
North Carolina refuses to confirm or deny Kendall Marshall's status for today's Elite 8 contest vs. Kansas. It looks like we won't know for sure until shortly before tip-off, according to Charlotte Observer's Andrew Carter.
#UNC will not confirm that Kendall Marshall is officially out for another 45 minutes, says spokesman Steve Kirschner.— Andrew Carter (@_andrewcarter) March 25, 2012
Amazingly, not even Marshall's father is allowed to confirm or deny his son's playing status, according to Carter.
Kendall Marshall's dad, of his son's status, says,"I am not allowed to say."— Andrew Carter (@_andrewcarter) March 25, 2012
UPDATE: Sunday, March 25 at 1:51 p.m. EST
According to Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports, Marshall will not play against Kansas in Sunday's Elite Eight matchup.
This is a major loss for the Tar Heels, whose offense was out of sync throughout their matchup with Ohio in the Sweet 16 when Marshall was out. His playmaking skills will certainly be missed.
UPDATE: Sunday, March 25 at 12:31 p.m. EST
According to Steve Greenberg of Sporting News, Marshall will try to play against the Jayhawks Sunday.
"There seems to be a significantly better chance that North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall will play Sunday vs. Kansas than there was heading into the Tar Heels’ last game," said Greenberg.
Marshall shot the ball and practiced with the Tar Heels Saturday for the first time since his injury.
"The range of motion is getting gradually better every day, and that's a positive sign," Marshall said. "There's been tremendous improvement every 24 hours."
Participating in the game and being effective are two different stories. It will be interesting to see how much of an impact he has on the floor.
UPDATE: Saturday, March 24 at 5:45 ET
Marshall participated in practice Saturday, but his status for Sunday's game against Kansas is still questionable.
UNC coach Roy Williams said that Marshall dribbled, passed and shot the ball for the first time since the injury. However, he was held out of live drills.
The Tar Heels were able to get past Ohio without Marshall, but they needed overtime to do it. It's hard to imagine them beating second-seeded Kansas without their offensive catalyst.
Williams said that they will evaluate Marshall's progress in shootaround on Sunday before making a decision. Given their dire situation, I'd be surprised if Marshall didn't play.
UPDATE: Friday, March 23 at 6:57 p.m. ET
The report from Forde (see below) was confirmed by North Carolina, via the basketball program's Official Twitter Page.
Kendall Marshall will not play tonight vs Ohio. Stilman White will start in Marshall's place.— UNC Hoops (@UNC_Basketball) March 23, 2012
UPDATE: Friday, March 23 at 6:35 p.m. ET
The question about Marshall's status for the Sweet 16 has been answered, as Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Marshall will not play against Ohio.
UNC's Steve Kirshner just said Kendall Marshall won't play tonight. Stilton White will start.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) March 23, 2012
Based on some of the previous updates below, this isn't a surprise, but it will be an adjustment for the Tar Heels.
UPDATE: Thursday, March 22 at 5:53 p.m. ET
You can pretty much call off the hope of Kendall Marshall playing in Friday's game against the Ohio Bobcats.
Robbi Pickeral of ESPN reports Roy Williams painted a grim picture of Marshall at his press conference. Here is what Williams stated.
If he comes in to my room tomorrow and says, ‘My wrist feels great,’ and he drops down to the floor and does 10 right handed pushups on his right hand, then I’ll say I’ll probably play his rear end. But I don’t expect that to happen. I mean, the guy can’t brush his teeth right now.
As far as a status, Williams issued that Marshall is day-to-day.
UPDATE: Wednesday, March 21 at 3:20 p.m. EST
The mystery of Kendall Marshall's tournament status deepens with the news from Robbi Pickeral of ESPN.com that the star point guard is wearing a removable splint.
North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall had the cast removed from his fractured right wrist on Wednesday and is now wearing a removable splint, the player's father said.
"All I know is he got it off this morning. Swelling is down, incision looks good," Dennis Marshall said in a text to ESPN.com.
Kendall Marshall's status for top-seeded North Carolina's NCAA Midwest Region semifinal game against Ohio on Friday remains undetermined. Coach Roy Williams said Tuesday that the Tar Heels are preparing "100 percent" to play without him.
The Tar Heels may not need Marshall against Ohio, but beyond that game it will be an uphill climb for them if he can't go.
Marshall is obviously going to do what he can to be on the court. His father wants to convince the world that his son can play, but Roy Williams isn't so convinced.
It's going to be an interesting 48 hours for the Tar Heels and Marshall.
UPDATE: Tuesday, March 20 at 3:50 p.m. EST
After earlier reports that head coach Roy Williams sounded pessimistic about Marshall's ability to play against Ohio, Williams said that the Tar Heels are preparing to play without their star point guard.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams says his team's "preparation is 100 percent" to play without injured point guard Kendall Marshall.
Williams says Marshall's playing status remains undecided for the Midwest Regional semifinal against Ohio on Friday night in St. Louis.
Marshall is going to be the focal point for the Tar Heels this whole week, even if the team wins or loses.
Things are going to be very interesting for the next three days in Chapel Hill.
UPDATE: Tuesday, March 20 at 9:45 a.m. EST
Despite some optimism from Marshall's camp on Monday, North Carolina head coach Roy Williams doesn't sound as optimistic.
"My guess is -- purely a guess -- that he will not play. But we're uncertain." -Roy Williams on Kendall Marshall— Robbi Pickeral (@bylinerp) March 19, 2012
Losing Marshall for the rest of the tournament would be a significant blow to the Tar Heels' national championship hopes. He is the key to that offense, without him the rest of the machine doesn't work as well.
We will know more once we get closer to the tip-off of North Carolina's game against Ohio. If you are looking for a positive, the Tar Heels have the easiest game, based on seeding, in the Sweet 16. Whether that means anything on Friday night remains to be seen.
UPDATE: Monday, March 19 at 1:45 p.m. EST
Marshall's father continues to be optimistic regarding his son's wrist injury and playing status for Friday, according to CBS' Jeff Borzello.
"CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman spoke via text with Marshall's father, Dennis Marshall. Dennis Marshall told Goodman that surgery on Kendall went well and lasted about 30 minutes. Moreover, they are optimistic about him playing against Ohio in the Sweet 16 on Friday.
'Hang onto your seatbelt,' Dennis Marshall said."
Marshall underwent surgery on his fractured wrist on Monday and is questionable to play Friday in the Sweet 16, according to CBS' Staff.
"CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish reports that, according to a source close to North Carolina, Marshall will have surgery on Monday. Parrish's source says that Marshall is hopeful he'll play in the Sweet 16. However, it's considered "unlikely" that Marshall will be able suit up for the Tar Heels.
CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman confirmed Monday's surgery with Dennis Marshall, Kendall's father. Marshall told CBSSports.com a screw will be inserted in the non-shooting wrist, and the sophomore point guard's status for Friday will depend on how much pain Kendall can take."
The team confirmed after the game that Marshall had fractured his right wrist (non-shooting hand) according to SI’s Stewart Mandel:
Fractured right wrist for Kendall Marshall, according to UNC. Just crushing.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) March 19, 2012
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach reports that while the wrist is fractured, Marshall is seeking further consultation:
Roy Williams said fracture of the scaphoid bone in Kendall Marshall's right wrist. Will speak with hand specialist tonight— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) March 19, 2012
The play came with about 10:52 left in the game, in what some may call a dirty play. Ethan Wragge drilled Marshall as he went up for the layup with a hard push, one of many questionable plays made by the Bluejays.
Marshall’s status for Friday’s Sweet 16 matchup against No. 13 Ohio does not sound good. Marshall’s dad posted on his Facebook account that his son “may” need surgery, which would automatically eliminate him for the remainder of the tournament. Nothing has officially been decided as of Sunday night.
CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish reports that he will in fact have the surgery:
Talked to a source close to UNC. Kendall Marshall will have surgery Monday. Hopeful he'll play in Sweet 16. But it's considered "unlikely."— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 19, 2012
Needless to say, Marshall wasn’t thrilled after the game, but is staying optimistic because the injury was to his non-shooting hand (via Fay Observer):
If it was my left hand I'd be telling y'all right now I'm not playing next week. Being that I was still out there being able to help my team out and get them in a position, (Harrison Barnes) hit a couple big shots, I was able to find him, that's encouraging. This isn't a one-on-one sport. This is a team sport. No matter what happens, I think we'll band together like we've always done and find a way to win.
The sophomore scored 18 points while dishing out 11 assists and grabbing four rebounds, all while shooting 7-of-8 from the floor. He stayed in the game after the injury and it didn’t seem to have much of an effect on his aggressiveness. He makes the Carolina offense work with his outstanding ball-handling and uncanny decision-making skills, and rarely, if ever, makes a mistake.
Kentucky is now the undisputed favorite to win the tournament, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how the Tar Heels play against a team like the No. 13 Ohio Bobcats, who have a guard in DJ Cooper that can get to the paint at will.
The Midwest bracket just got a whole lot more interesting.