Sweet 16 Bracket 2012: Kendall Marshall Injury and More Key Friday Storylines

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2012

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 18:  Kendall Marshall #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels prepares to play against the Creighton Bluejays in the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 18, 2012 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

After an eventful day of Sweet 16 games on Thursday that featured Michigan State getting eliminated and Florida's hot streak staying alive, it's time to reset and look ahead to Friday's contests. There are no shortage of stories to examine.

Let's take a look at some of the most interesting things to keep an eye on to start the weekend. For a look at this year's tournament bracket, visit the official NCAA web site.

 

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 11:  P.J. Hairston #15 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts after he make a 3-point basket in the second half against the Florida State Seminoles during the Final Game of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conference Tournament at Philips
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Kendall Marshall's Injury

North Carolina's talent point guard, who is averaging more assists than points, continues to attempt a miraculous recovery from a wrist injury in time to play against Ohio. Head coach Roy Williams doesn't think he'll be ready in time, however.

That would put a ton of pressure on the Tar Heels' other guards. They have already been without Dexter Strickland, so losing Marshall would leave North Carolina thin in the backcourt. Guys like P.J. Hairston and Justin Watts would need to step up.

D.J. Cooper has carried the Bobcats on his back since the MAC tournament, and he'll give his team the point guard advantage again if Marshall is out.

 

Elite Eight Cinderella Teams

Where are all the Cinderella teams? Florida doesn't count because of its past success, which means there are just three teams left with a chance of filling the void. They are Ohio, North Carolina State and Xavier, all three of which are underdogs as you'd expect.

After the runs by Butler and VCU in recent years, adding a dark horse team into the mix always helps increase the drama level. The idea that any team can beat another is what gives the tournament such widespread appeal among sports fans.

Due to Baylor's struggles in its opening game, I'd give Xavier the best chance of reaching the Elite Eight. Tu Holloway deserves his day in the spotlight.

 

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 10:  Marquis Teague #25, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14, Anthony Davis #23 and Terrence Jones #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats react in the first half against the Florida Gators during the semifinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament a
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Battle of Superpowers

Kentucky and Indiana are programs with plenty of history. The Wildcats have won seven national championships while the Hoosiers have five. Both teams have reached the Elite Eight numerous times over the years.

Only one of them will reach that point this year, though. The two sides played earlier in the season with Indiana coming out on top at the buzzer, so college basketball fans should be in for another treat on Friday night.

Cody Zeller and Anthony Davis are worth watching even if it was just them playing one-on-one. There will likely be times tonight when it seems like they are.