1) No Kendall Marshall – North Carolina’s sophomore point guard reportedly isn’t playing today because of his injured right wrist. And without Marshall, the Tar Hells looked lost offensively at times against Ohio on Friday in the Midwest Regional semifinals. Marshall plays more minutes than any other Carolina player and averages almost 10 assists per game. He’s the glue. And there is a big dropoff when Stilman White is in there and an even bigger one when Justin Watts is forced to play. KU’s guards, Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson, will be in full attack mode today. I expect the Jayhawks, despite their lack of depth, to show some full-court pressure to try and rattle White and Watts. White was fine as a floor leader against Ohio with six assists and no turnovers, but he’ll be more tested today.
2) Kansas shoots better – After two straight sub-par shooting games, the Jayhawks are due to make some shots. Especially Taylor, who has never made a three-pointer inside a dome in the NCAA Tournament. That sounds more serious than it is; he’s taken only 12 threes in domed stadiums during the tournament. Still, Taylor is in a real shooting fun. Not only are his three-pointers missing, they’re missing by a lot. He said Saturday he felt like every shot he was taking was going in. But those shots have looked bad off his hands. He’ll have a better day today.
3) Jeff Withey, the “Blockinator” – I can’t wait for Withey, whose 10 blocks against North Carolina State on Friday night changed that game, go against the North Carolina big men, Tyler Zeller and John Henson. Withey’s 10 blocks equaled Kansas’ single-game record, set in 2009 by Cole Aldrich in an NCAA second-round game against Dayton. His 126 blocks for the season are one more than Aldrich had during the 2009-10 season, another record. He and Aldrich are the only two Kansas big men to record more than 94 blocks in a season since the statistic started being kept in 1975. I’d pay to watch Withey block shots, which is a remarkable statement. But it’s true. His feel for this too-little-praised talent is incredible.