The University of North Carolina's Marshall reacts as he leaves the court following North Carolina's win over Duke University in their NCAA basketball game in Durham,

Kendall Marshall deserves to be a first-team All-American

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With the NCAA’s regular season coming to a close this weekend, the postseason awards discussion has kicked into high gear.

We already know that Thomas Robinson and Anthony Davis are going to be the two players that get the most consideration when it comes to Player of the Year. Draymond Green has thrown his name into that conversation as well. That means that the front court is pretty much solidified in regards to first team All-Americans.

Who ends up getting selected in the back court is still up in the air, however. But I think we can settle the debate on the point guard fairly quickly: Kendall Marshall.

Marshall entered the season as, more or less, a one trick pony. We knew he was the best passer in the country. We knew that he was the engine that would make the high-powered UNC offense go. That wasn’t a secret.

But what Marshall has shown over the last few weeks is that he’s more than just a passer. The kid can score, too, and he proved it as No. 6 North Carolina ran through No. 4 Duke 88-70 on Saturday evening.

Marshall finished with 20 points and 10 assists against the Blue Devils. This came less than two weeks after he had one of the most dominant performances of the year against NC State, when he finished with 22 points, 13 assists and zero turnovers while shooting 7-8 from the floor and 4-5 from three.

What’s great about Marshall, however, is that he doesn’t need to score. He knows that he has a ton of talent around him; at least four Tar Heels will go in the first round of whatever NBA Draft they end up entering. That’s why he’s scored in double figures a whopping five times this season and averages all of 6.8 ppg. He picks his spots. He knows his role. That may be his most valuable attribute as a player.

Having a point guard that is capable of getting his own bucket at the end of a clock is so important, and UNC fans can rest assured that Marshall is more than up to the task.

If All-American standing was determined by who would win a 1-on-1 tournament, Marshall wouldn’t have a shot going up against the likes of Tyshawn Taylor and Damian Lillard.

But there probably aren’t five players in the country that are more important to their team than Marshall is to UNC. If that doesn’t make him deserving of being an All-American, than I don’t know what does.

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

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Key contests in Atlantic 10, Pac-12

Arizona head coach Sean Miller talks with guard Allonzo Trier (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern State in Tucson, Ariz., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015. (Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star via AP)  ALL LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; PAC-12 OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT; GREEN VALLEY NEWS OUT
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: UCLA at No. 17 Arizona, 9:00 p.m.
The Bruins and Wildcats have already met once this season, with a Bryce Alford three-pointer giving UCLA an 87-84 win. But UCLA has continued to struggle with consistency since then, and the chance at payback should serve as a motivating factor for Arizona. Sean Miller’s team welcomed back Allonzo Trier in Saturday’s win at Washington, and in forward Ryan Anderson they have one of the conference’s best players. The “rivalry” aspect of this game should make it a good one, as UCLA tends to show up for big-name opponents, but it could also be another major blow to the Bruins’ fleeting hopes of getting back to the NCAA tournament.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 19 Dayton at Rhode Island, 7:00 p.m.
The Rams have struggled with injuries all season, most recently dealing with Jarvis Garrett’s broken jaw and Kuran Iverson’s concussion. Garrett’s back on the floor, playing with a face mask that appears to be inspired by Hannibal Lecter, and it’s that team toughness that makes URI a serious threat to first-place Dayton at the Ryan Center (Iverson’s been medically cleared but remains a game-time decision). Charles Cooke has been outstanding for the Flyers this season, and Dayton’s depth makes them a tough matchup for any team much less one as banged up as URI.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1. As a result of No. 11 Oregon’s loss at Cal last night, No. 23 USC finds itself tied in the loss column atop the Pac-12 standings heading into their game at Arizona State (8:00 p.m.). Outside of keeping opponents off the offensive glass the Sun Devils have had issues defensively in conference play, and with the Trojans’ many scoring options led by guards Jordan McLaughlin and Julian Jacobs this will be a tough matchup for the home team.

2. Monmouth looks to maintain its lead atop the MAAC standings, as they visit Rider (9:00 p.m.). The Broncs haven’t been the conference contender many envisioned them being when the season began but they’re still dangerous, with players such as guard Teddy Okereafor capable of giving opponents fits. Justin Robinson, who’s been excellent at the point all season long, leads the way for a Monmouth team that still has hopes of earning an at-large bid should they need it.

3. Having lost to Yale last weekend, Columbia’s in a position where they need to hold serve ahead of the rematch in New York City March 5. That makes games like tonight’s against Penn (7:00 p.m.) that much more important for Kyle Smith’s Lions, who have done a good job of turning opponents over in league play (22.8 TO%). Penn’s had issues taking care of the basketball, and that combined with Columbia’s tandem of Maodo Lo and Alex Rosenberg could prove to be the difference at Levien Gym.

4. Two teams looking to make a push in the MAC East race meet in Buffalo, as the Bulls host Ohio (7:00 p.m.). Nate Oats’ team had its four-game win streak snapped by Toledo, with the Rockets beating Buffalo by two Wednesday night. They’ll look to rebound with a defense that has been the best in the MAC in conference play (tops in defensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage), but they have to take care of the basketball in order to do so.

5. Grand Canyon, which can’t play in the NCAA tournament as they’re still in the Division I transition process, looks to remain a game behind New Mexico State in the WAC standings. Dan Majerle’s Antelopes visit Seattle (10:00 p.m.), which handed GCU its first conference loss 13 days ago. GCU shot just 6-for-23 from three in that game, which they led by ten late in the first half. If Seattle is to win they’ll need to slow down the tandem of sophomore Joshua Braun and senior Grandy Glaze, who combine to average 31.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.