Elite 8 2012: Why Kendall Marshall's Absence Will Doom UNC vs. Kansas

Amelia AhlgrenContributor IIIMarch 24, 2012

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 18:  Kendall Marshall #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts from the bench while taking on the Creighton Bluejays during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 18, 2012 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Head coach Roy Williams of the Tar Heels announced that Marshall fractured his right wrist after he was fouled in the second half.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Kendall Marshall's broken wrist will cause North Carolina to suffer an Elite Eight exit from the NCAA tournament.

The aftershock of the point guard's injury was felt in St. Louis last night, when North Carolina was almost snuffed by the Ohio Bobcats in an overtime thriller.

After losing to Florida State in the ACC Championship, North Carolina breezed by its first two tournament challengers, but was almost stopped short in the Sweet 16 against No. 13-seeded Ohio.

Now they face their most daunting opponent yet: No. 2-seeded Kansas Jayhawks.

And this time they won't have the size advantage they had over the Bobcats.

You could point to freshman Stilman White's six assists and zero turnovers and insist that Carolina won't have it so bad in its next Midwest matchup.

But White went 0-for-4 from the field, where Marshall usually shoots 46.7 percent for 9.8 points per game.

And beyond the strict numbers, Carolina was missing the intangibles Marshall brings to the offense. He provides organization and leadership and brings fluidity to the floor.

The Tar Heels were not a cohesive bunch on offense Friday night. They bumbled around and committed a season-high 24 turnovers.

Had it not been for Ohio's horrid 32.4 percent shooting, the Bobcats would have become the first No. 13 seed or higher to make the Elite Eight since tournament expansion in 1985.

Don't expect the Jayhawks to be so nice.

Even with their star point guard, 7'0" Jayhawk center Jeff Withey would give the Tar Heels trouble driving to the basket and creating plays inside, but that task becomes infinitely more difficult without Marshall.

Withey racked up 10 blocks and a steal in Friday's win over NC State.

And the Kansas defense as a whole ranks third in the nation in field-goal percentage D. They allow just 37.8 percent of opponents' shots to fall.

With a Tar Heels offense lacking Marshall and the rhythm he brings to the floor, the Jayhawks will smother Carolina and head to New Orleans.