North Carolina announced on Tuesday that five-star freshman Cole Anthony is after having arthroscopic surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus. Needless to say, that's not good. So Matt Norlander and I decided to get together Tuesday afternoon and record a fresh episode of the CBS Sports Eye On College Basketball Podcast. It's 23 minutes. It's 100% about Anthony and UNC.
The Tar Heels are already 0-1 without Anthony thanks to Sunday's 68-64 loss to Wofford. So, yes, it's true the schedule is manageable considering North Carolina will only play two top-60 KenPom teams over the next six weeks -- first Gonzaga on Wednesday, then NC State on Jan. 27. But if UNC couldn't beat Wofford at home without Cole Anthony, it's fair to wonder if UNC can beat anybody anywhere without Cole Anthony considering every team UNC will play in the next six weeks is better than Wofford, according to KenPom.
According to Norlander, Anthony missing up to six weeks could lead to UNC missing the NCAA Tournament.
"North Carolina is going to be in danger here of not making the NCAA Tournament," Norlander said on the podcast. "They'e 6-4 right now. Clearly the Roy Williams era has been outstanding since he arrived there, but only once since he got there did they not make the tournament and that was in 2009-10. That team went 20-17 and 5-11 in the ACC. ... If I'm a UNC fan, I have a real concern about even making the tournament."
Anthony was averaging 19.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.9 steals through nine games and looking like a real candidate to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. And that's another part of this story - not what it does strictly to North Carolina, but what it also does to college basketball in general. Right now, there are three players in college with a realistic chance to be the first player selected in the 2020 NBA Draft - namely James Wiseman, Cole Anthony and Anthony Edwards. Wiseman is serving a 12-game suspension. And now Anthony will be sidelined deep into January. That stinks for the sport. And it really stinks for the Tar Heels, who aren't very deep at point guard. In the loss to Wofford, junior walk-on K.J. Smith started in Anthony's absence for UNC.
"They literally go from a top-five NBA Draft pick to a walk-on," I said on the podcast. "That could not happen anywhere else in the country. ... I don't know what Roy plans to do Wednesday at Gonzaga or this weekend in the CBS Sports Classic. But think about how drastic that is -- to go from having, as your primary ball-handler, maybe the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft to a walk-on."
The latest "Eye on College Basketball" podcast is below. Give it a listen. If you're not already subscribed, please subscribe via Apple Podcasts. And if you've already done that, thank you. #ShoutsToDevanDowney.