(1) North Carolina vs. (13) Ohio Preview
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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(1) North Carolina Tar Heels
There was nothing joyful or exciting about the Tar Heels 87-73 defeat of Creighton in the Round of 32. Yes, John Henson performed well in his return to the lineup after missing two games with a wrist injury. The story of the game, though, was that Kendall Marshall went down with a wrist injury of his own that is more severe. Marshall suffered a fracture in his right wrist midway through the second half that has his status for the rest of the tournament in question. The timing could not be worse for the Tar Heels. Marshall has been playing the best basketball of his life as of late. He was spectacular against Creighton, scoring 18 points on 7-8 shooting to go along with 11 assists. The Tar Heels are a good team without him, but they may not be championship contenders, which is what they set out to be this year. Moving forward, nothing is more important to the Tar Heels than his health. Ohio will not feel sorry for them in the Sweet 16. They’re going to give them everything they have and it’s important for the Tar Heels to respond whether they’re with their floor general or not.
(13) Ohio Bobcats
Going up against a Bulls squad that frustrates a lot of teams with their style of play, the Bobcats weathered through their initial struggles and scored 41 second-half points en route to a 62-56 victory. They have officially become this year’s Cinderella. Guards Walter Offutt and D.J. Cooper combined to score 40 points. Offutt was a perfect 4-4 from beyond the arc, while Cooper was solid all around with six points and seven rebounds. As a team the Bobcats shot 50 percent from long range in comparison to the Bulls, who shot just 13.3 percent. Against North Carolina in the Sweet 16 the Bobcats can expect a heavy dosage of the Tar Heels’ big men. They’re going to look to dominate them on the boards and pound it inside the paint on just about every possession since they could be without point guard Kendall Marshall. The Bobcats will have to take advantage of Marshall potentially being out by putting heavy pressure on the ball and trying to deny all post entry passes.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: North Carolina. The Bobcats’ run has been surprising and Marshall may be out, but it’s still hard to envision UNC losing this game.
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