There's no arguing it, the North Carolina Tar Heels are a better team with Kendall Marshall at the point. He is easily one of the top 5 distributors in college basketball, his basketball IQ is off the charts. Quite simply put, if he suits up Sunday vs the Jayhawks, the Tar Heel's chances of advancing to the Final Four increase tremendously.
However, if Marshall is not able to play, the Tar Heels will need other players to step up. In a season filled with injuries, the Tar Heels have done quite well. Starting shooting guard/backup point guard Dexter Strickland was lost in mid January. Strickland was the team's best defender, and his loss was expected to seriously damper UNC's title hopes. However, his loss allowed Reggie Bullock more playing time, and the sharpshooter has not disappointed.
Then, on the eve of March Madness, John Henson went down with a wrist injury. Henson, the 2012 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, formed the core of the stout UNC defense and was the top rebounder on one of the best rebounding teams in the country.
However, once again, in the absence of a star player, someone stepped up. Tar Heel freshman James McAdoo stepped in while Henson recovered from his injury, averaging 25 minutes, 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals per game.
While the loss of a player of Kendall Marshall's caliber would be significant to any team in the league, the Tar Heels have proved time and time again this season that they have the ability to adapt to injuries.
Stilman White, the UNC freshman native to North Carolina, looks to be the player that will receive the minutes if Marshall cannot go. He was the starter at point guard in the Tar Heel's win over Ohio, and while he looked uneasy at moments, it was to be expected from a rookie point guard playing his first meaningful minutes of the season.White's stat line does not jump off the page by any means; however, if you had told me before the game that he would rack up 6 assists with no turnovers, I would have been more than satisfied. While White only scored 2 points and was 0-4 from the field, he is by no means expected to rack up points with players like Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller on the floor.
UNC faithful will have their fingers crossed for Marshall to play; however, if Marshall is not able to go, I expect White to contribute to a come-from-behind Tar Heels win.
White's Predicted Stat Line: 28 minutes, 6 points, 8 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 steal.
UNC 79 - 75 Kansas