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Kendall Marshall watched in street clothes as his Tar Heels squeaked by a gritty Ohio U. team.
This one is just a hunch.
When, with the exception of the Kentucky-Baylor game, you're faced with three games where the point spreads are between pick 'em and three points, it's tough to say anyone is "guaranteed" to be heading home.
But I'm from ACC country and have watched this edition of North Carolina basketball for nearly five months. On a team that seems to have McDonald's All-Americans stockpiled clear down the bench to the student manager, something always seemed to have been missing.
Yes, Kendall Marshall was missing on Friday night against Ohio when the Tar Heels committed a whopping 24 turnovers, but his replacement at the point, Stilman White, was guilty of exactly zero of them.
True, the ball wasn't in White's hands as much of the time as it would have been in Marshall's, but the rest of the team seemed to have no true understanding of what it was trying to accomplish on the offensive end.
In the last five minutes of regulation with the game in the balance, what seemed like the best strategy for the Heels—finding Tyler Zeller—occurred just once.
In a nutshell, that seems to be North Carolina's problem. With four of the top six vote-getters for All-ACC, a team loaded with talent has never quite figured out how to be a team.
Outstanding individual efforts all season long were sufficient to get UNC through a less-than-impressive collection of Atlantic Coast Conference teams.
Sunday's opponent, Kansas, has been less than impressive itself thus far in this NCAA Tournament. But Bill Self's club slugged its way through a tough Big 12 regular season and was considered by many to be deserving of the last No.1 seed. Don't expect to see the team that has barely escaped its last two tournament games.
Will Kendall Marshall play on Sunday? It's unknown as of this writing. While he surely makes North Carolina more cohesive, even he hasn't been able to create that intangible mesh that makes championship teams.
With talent equal to or superior than all but Kentucky's, I still expect this Tar Heels bunch to be watching next weekend with the rest of us.