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What Zeller's Injury Means

That depends on what happens with the rest of the walking wounded.

Jeff Goodman at Fox Sports has essentially dismissed the injury to Tyler Zeller as not being significant this season because minutes were going to be sparse anyway with Tyler Hansbrough and Deon Thompson starting followed by Ed Davis and Zeller.  I think that is a bit simplistic and does not account for pesky things like foul trouble or the fact that Zeller is seven feet tall and there ain't many of those players around.  You also look at the quality of depth and having four quality big men opens up a pletheora of options in terms of keeping players fresh.  Roy's whole plan for this season was based on having 10 quality guys and knowing that when Tar Heel starters were taking a break, guys who were nearly as good would be in the game, Zeller being one of them. Where depth is concerned, losing Zeller hurts but given how much experience the team returns and the makeup of the team being much the same as last season it is by no means a deal breaker.

Basically I see it this way.  This team is an overwhelming #1 on the basis of six players returning one of them a consensus NPOY.  From last season's 36-3 squad only two players left, Quentin Thomas and Alex Stepheson.  Those roles can adequately be filled by Larry Drew and Ed Davis.  In the case of Stepheson, I think Davis is an upgrade in terms of being a greater factor on the offensive end.  The tradeoff with Thomas and Drew is probably even and with Bobby Frasor back there is plenty of depth in the backcourt.  Once Hansbrough and Marcus Ginyard return the team will be the same team that took the floor last season.  The differences will be an improved Thompson, Frasor back playing defense and setting the tone, an improving Will Graves and the rest of the usual suspects: Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green.  The team was loaded based on the returnees alone, the freshmen in many ways were icing on the cake augmenting the depth.

None of this is to say Zeller would not have played an important role at times this year.  There is great talent there and he will be a blast to watch next season when he will be the starting center.  As for this season Zeller was very much a nice to have, not a have to have.  That is assuming Hansbrough comes back and plays in top form the rest of the season.  Otherwise we may all be cursing that moment in the Kentucky game for years to come.