A look ahead: UNC vs. Kansas

stilman

UNC guard Stilman White answers a question during a press conference Saturday. UNC will take on Kansas in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

North Carolina struggled to pull out a 73-65 overtime win against Ohio, but the victory puts the Tar Heels in the Elite Eight for the second consecutive year. UNC senior forward Tyler Zeller was huge for the Tar Heels, scoring 20 point and grabbing 22 rebounds. Even shooting guard Reggie Bullock made his presence on the glass known with his 17 point, 10 rebound performance. North Carolina outrebounded Ohio as a team 63-30.

That won’t come as easily against Kansas when the two teams meet Sunday at 5:05 p.m. Here are a few storylines to keep an eye on before that game, as well as a few things that are just worth noting.

* Battle of the bigs: The Jayhawks can go toe-to-toe with UNC’s size. KU starting center Jeff Withey is a 7-footer, like Zeller, and Kansas’ other big man, Thomas Robinson, is one of the best players in the country. Robinson is in the race for the National Player of the Year award and he has been incredibly consistent for Kansas this entire season. Against N.C. State on Friday, Robinson scored 18 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Withey only score eight points and grabbed five boards, but he blocked 10 N.C. State shots. UNC has its own stockpile of post talent in Zeller, John Henson and James Michael McAdoo. But those three won’t dominate the paint like they did against Ohio.

* Marshall-watch: We still don’t know if Kendall Marshall will be able to play on Sunday, but UNC bought him some more time with a win on Friday. Marshall said he would determine if he can play and inform coach Roy Williams. He added that he has a relatively high level of pain tolerance. Although UNC turned the ball over a season-high 24 times against Ohio, that wasn’t at the hand of backup point guard Stilman White. The freshman made his first career start and played 32 minutes, far more than his previous season-high of 11. White finished the game with six assists and no turnovers, which should certainly give UNC a sense of relief heading into Friday’s game if Marshall can’t play.

* The former coach: Roy Williams was hired by Kansas to coach the Jayhawks in 1988, and he stayed there up until UNC brought Williams back to Chapel Hill in 2003. Williams coached Kansas to 418 wins and led the Jayhawks to two NCAA Championship appearances, losing both. Williams is one of three coaches to lead two different teams to a national championship and he’s the only coach to lead two different schools to two separate NCAA tournament championship games. In Williams’ two trips to the title game with UNC in 2005 and 2009, he won.

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