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North Carolina may not have Barnes for Wisconsin game

Nov 29, 2011, 12:25 AM EST

spt-111128-barnes AP

Nothing takes the luster off a marquee matchup like an injury to an elite player. Though I doubt Wisconsin fans are too bummed out the thought of not facing Harrison Barnes.

Barnes, North Carolina’s leading scorer and a preseason All-American, badly sprained his ankle during Saturday’s loss to UNLV and left afterward on crutches. He didn’t practice Monday.

More telling was this quote from coach Roy Williams during his Monday night radio show: “If we had a game today, he would not have played.”

That’s not to say Barnes won’t be ready by Wednesday. He could play. But he won’t be fully healthy, and that’s an issue when he averages 17.3 points and 4.8 rebounds a game.

The Tar Heels have talented guys to replace him – starting with wings Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston – but he’s essential to their offense and overall scheme. That’s how it goes when you’re one of the nation’s elite players.

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