A Tar Heel in Afghanistan The Team That Still Is


Let’s not talk in hopes and dreams today Heels fans lets you and me speak in terms of what we know.  I like many of you hope against all hopes that Kendall Marshall can play this upcoming Sunday. Kendall Marshall is an important piece to one of the greatest collections of talent in College Basketball this year but he is just that a piece. So operating on the assumption what we don’t yet know doesn’t exist let’s take a look at what the Heels outlook is without Kendall Marshall.

First let’s let me state that even without Kendall Marshall the Tar Heels even with a shorter bench have more talent than anyone left in St. Louis.  If you were to list the top 5 players left in the Midwest region the Tar Heels would have 3 of those 5, PERIOD. John Henson, Tyler Zeller, and Harrison Barnes are three First Team All-ACC players.  Reggie Bullock is starting to play more and more like the five star McDonalds All-American that I watched so many times playing for Kinston HS. His all around game may be the best of any guard on the team.  James Michael McAdoo is playing like that guy you saw play and even outperformed Anthony Davis back in the All-Star game tour last spring.  Those are 5 players right there who I contend would start for 99.9% of teams in College Basketball.   The rest of the cast involves another five star McDonalds All-American. PJ Hairston while still trying to find his shot has found other areas of his game especially on the defensive end of the floor.  The two other players that look to take on an increased role are Justin Watts and Stillman White. Justin Watts ball handling is solid and his defense is extremely good especially when he is guarding players of similar size or smaller because while lacking in some areas athleticism is not one of them. Stilman White is still a bit of an unknown. His ball handling has looked decent and has seemed to be able to get UNC in their sets. The problem is he seems to be lacking a bit defensively but not because he is bad in the area but because he seems to be prone to foul trouble.

So that is the team that still is. What I expect to see from the above team is a fairly easy win over Ohio. Ohio simply can’t handle UNC’s size and athleticism. Their best player is 5’10” and a matchup made in heaven for Justin Watts both offensively and defensively. When Stilman is in the game I expect to see hard hedges and help come from Z and Henson on drives.  So while not taking them too lightly I am still taking Ohio pretty lightly sorry I just am. I don’t believe they will be able to contain UNC’s bigs or wings both will have significant height advantages not to mention skill advantages. I expect UNC will not play at quite the pace we are all use to but may be even harder to deal with defensively when Justin Watts enters at the PG spot. UNC  78 Ohio 63.

That brings us to either NC State or Kansas. Both are talented teams but even without Kendall Marshall UNC still has the talent advantage. We have seen State 3 times so I won’t delve too much into them other than to say again. Watts guarding Brown is a good matchup for UNC at the defensive end. That brings us to Kansas whom I think our boys will ultimately be playing come Sunday. Kansas while having a player I would say is stronger and more talented than any one player UNC has (Thomas Robinson) is still a sum of its parts. Tyshaun Taylor is also a great player but that is essentially where the story ends. The rest of Kansas’s team is made  up of roll players. An off night from Taylor and Kansas is in big trouble. The Purdue game showed that, Kansas should have lost that game and to a team with even a bit more talent would have lost. The UNC team that still exists is far more talented than that Purdue team. I expect to see a combination of Watts and Bullock on Tyshaun Taylor and I expect both of them to be able to frustrate Taylor. The problem is Taylor will be able to frustrate Watts or Stilman on the other end of the floor. I imagine Robinson will still get his numbers, hopefully Henson’s length will help him on the offensive end and keep Robinson off balance when he is defending him. This brings us to the other three players on the court. Bottom Line Zeller is going to run Jeff Withey out of the gym, he will not be able to keep up and when he does catch his breath in the post I expect Z to use his superior quickness to get Withey in foul trouble.  Travis Releford isn’t going to be happy because he hasn’t had to guard anyone like Harrison Barnes all year, Quincy Acy may be the closest thing but he really isn’t that close. Barnes’s superior size and strength are going to be big problems for Releford on both ends.  Elijah Johnson will be matched up with Bullock, Watts or Hairston this will be a good matchup and one where UNC will need to take advantage. UNC – 78 KU – 73

Without Kendall Marshall I still expect an ultra talented team that may be as focused as we have ever seen them to take the court come Sunday. That is why I expect the Team That Still Is to head to New Orleans hopefully with the addition of plenty of Butter to spread all over the Bayou.

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