College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, March 23, 2012
Without their playmaker, Kendall Marshall, North Carolina barely survived their regional semi-final tilt with the Ohio Bobcats, Friday night, having to go into overtime to eventually conquer their upset-minded opponents, 73-65.
Marshall suffered a fractured wrist in the Tar Heels' previous game, an 87-73 win over Creighton this past Sunday (March 18) that set up the Sweet 16 meeting with the Bobcats. Coach Roy williams was forced to start freshman Stilman White in his place, and, while White was an adequate replacement, North Carolina still turned the ball over 23 times against Ohio.
What the Tar Heels lost with Marshall's absence was compensated for by the steady play of senior forward Tyler Zeller, the ACC player of the year, who tallied 20 points and 23 rebounds. Zeller's 20+ double-double was the first time any player in the NCAA tournament had accomplished such a feat since Tim Duncan did it when playing for Wake Forest in 1997, putting Zeller and his accomplishment in elite company.
Besides the scoring and glass-cleaning, Zeller was a powerful force in the middle, with four blocked shots and numerous others altered as Ohio players tried in vain to penetrate the middle against him and fellow front court stalwart John Henson.
Carolina's win sets up a Sunday afternoon meeting with the Kansas, the #2 seed in the Midwest region. The winner will earn a trip to New Orleans and the Final Four.