Saturday March 25 5:05 p.m. EST on CBS
NCAA Basketball Spread: Kansas -2.5
Two of the most storied programs in college basketball history will square off for a Final Four bid Sunday afternoon in St. Louis. Roy Williams will be up against his old team in this one, but the key thought on everyone’s mind is Kendall Marshall. Can the Tar Heels star point guard be ready for this one? Kansas is listed as a small favorite because of Marshall’s injury.
Kansas has slipped into the Elite Eight, but it definitely hasn’t been easy. They trailed Purdue nearly all game before squeaking out a win. They trailed early against NC State, and had to hold on late in their 60-57 win. Thomas Robinson had 18 points and 15 rebounds in the win over the Wolfpack. It was Jeff Withey’s defensive presence that decided the game. Withey set the Kansas school-record with 10 blocks in the Jayhawks win Friday night. Kansas won that game despite shooting just 1 for 14 from three-point range and 11 for 20 from the free throw line.
Robinson is the clear leader for this team, and he’ll need to stay out of foul trouble against Carolina’s talented frontcourt. Withey and Robinson will need to secure the defensive boards against the best offensive rebounding team in the nation. Tyshawn Taylor averages 16.6 points per game, and he shoots 40% from beyond the arc. Elijah Johnson has been great in the NCAA Tournament for Kansas. Johnson is one of those guys who does whatever it takes to help the team win.
Kendall Marshall is listed as questionable for this game, but most believe it is doubtful he can play this soon after fracturing his wrist last Sunday. If he can’t go, Stilman White will be the starter at the point guard spot again Sunday. White is clearly not the spectacular player Marshall is, but he had six assists and no turnovers in the team’s overtime win against Ohio Friday night. North Carolina nearly lost that game because some of their best players had terrible games. Harrison Barnes leads the team in scoring at 17.1 points per contest, but he had just 12 points on 3 for 16 shooting Friday. Reggie Bullock and Tyler Zeller both had huge games to help the Tar Heels survive. Zeller had 20 points and 22 rebounds. Bullock finished with 17 points and ten boards.
North Carolina has been winning a lot of games because of their domination on the glass. The Tar Heels grabbed 56 boards to Ohio’s 26. Kansas will clearly do much better than this on the boards, so North Carolina must be more efficient on offense. Can John Henson and Tyler Zeller find ways to score down low over Robinson and Withey? The frontcourt must be great if the Tar Heels are going to win this one.
Kansas should shoot the ball better than they have of late, and if Marshall doesn’t play the Jayhawks have the inside track to the Final Four.
Free College Basketball Pick: Kansas -2.5
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