Will Ankle Sprain Limit Armando Bacot's Effectiveness in National Championship?

Sports Injury Central
Armando Bacot injury preview ahead of UNC vs. Kansas NCAA National Championship game.
Armando Bacot injury preview ahead of UNC vs. Kansas NCAA National Championship game. / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

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University of North Carolina survived Saturday's historic Final Four matchup against the Duke Blue Devils, but left with an injury to key big man Armando Bacot.

Bacot suffered a right ankle inversion sprain when he stepped on his teammate Leaky Black's foot late in the 81-77 win.

The junior forward/center remained in the contest after a short check by the team's medical staff but fouled out a short time later.

While Bacot has emphatically said he will play in the National Championship, the ProBasketballDocs assert that he is likely dealing with overnight swelling in the ankle.

Given the short turnaround, the Tar Heels' center could have trouble with his mobility in Monday's game against Kansas.

Bacot is the team's leading rebounder by a wide margin – he collected 21 boards in Monday's win – and also serves as the team's main interior defender. North Carolina has played only five- or six-deep depending on the matchup, so Bacot will likely play massive minutes on the ankle.

He averages 13.1 rebounds per game and 1.7 blocks, in addition to being the team's leading scorer during the regular season with 16.3 points per game.

Since he can dictate where he goes on offense, Bacot shouldn't struggle to score against Kansas. Sophomore guard Caleb Love has also handled a majority of the scoring duties in the tournament, a trend that's likely to continue against Kansas.

The real effect of the ankle injury will be seen on the defensive end against 6-foot-10 senior forward David McCormack. 

McCormack was dominant in the Final Four win over Villanova, finishing with 25 points and 9 rebounds on 10-12 shooting. He entered the tournament with a sore foot, but has seemed unbothered of late. 

Kansas' size could also help them dominate the boards against UNC and the injured Bacot. Brady Manek, the 6-foot-9 bearded forward, will likely have to step up to grab rebounds for the Tar Heels given Bacot's limited mobility.

Kansas has had the rebounding edge in every tournament matchup thus far. UNC was only outrebounded three times all season. They lost all three games.

The Tar Heels are 4-point underdogs in the National Championship and the over/under is 151.5, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

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