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Kendall Marshall’s fractured wrist devastating to UNC’s title chances

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Creighton v North Carolina

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 18: Kendall Marshall #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels is fouled by Ethan Wragge #34 of the Creighton Bluejays in the second half during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 18, 2012 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Marshall injured his right wrist on the play. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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Kendall Marshall has fractured a bone in his right wrist. (UPDATE: According CBSSports.com, Marshall will be undergoing surgery on Monday. It is unlikely he will be back for the Sweet 16.)

Marshall got bumped on a drive late in the second half of UNC’s blowout win over Creighton. He fell on the wrist and fractured the scaphoid bone, which is located just below the thumb. Regardless of the location of the fracture and how severe the fracture is, a quick scan of some medical websites will tell you that it is very unlikely that Marshall, a lefty, will be back at any point during this tournament.

“All we know right now is it’s a fracture,” Marshall said. “Luckily it’s my right hand. If it was my left hand, then we’d probably have some problems. But we’ll take it day by day and figure it out.”

Photo: The moment the Heels’ prospects changed

The magnitude of this loss for the Tar Heels cannot possibly be understated.

Marshall is the single most valuable player in the entire country. He’s the engine that makes Carolina’s transition offense run. He’s the best passer in the country and excels at passing ahead, hitting teammates that are on the run. Making matters more complicated is that Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland have torn their ACLs already this year, meaning that the point guard spot is going to be manned by either Stilman White or Reggie Bullock.

Seriously.

There is probably still a chance that Marshall can return. Maybe his injury isn’t as serious as we initially thought. Maybe he will be able to play through it; he is a lefty after all.

But if Marshall doesn’t return, then UNC’s title hopes are all but over. That’s not exaggeration or hyperbole. That’s a fact. And if you don’t believe me, think about what UNC was last season when Larry Drew was running the team.

You have to feel bad for UNC at this point. Between the injuries suffered by Strickland and Marshall and the wrist injury that Henson is still dealing with, the Heels are the most snake-bitten team in the country.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.