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North Carolina’s Nassir Little uncertain to play Friday

The freshman forward is battling an illness.

Washington v North Carolina Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

As we’re gearing up for the Sweet 16 this weekend, some news has broke out of Chapel Hill.

Former five-star recruit and North Carolina Tar Heels freshman forward Nassir Little did not practice today and is questionable to play tomorrow against the Auburn Tigers, per UNC’s Twitter page.

The 6-6 small forward has really emerged as of late. Last weekend, Little averaged 19.5 points in Carolina’s two wins over Iona and Washington. He’s an important piece for the Tar Heels.

Little struggled at the beginning of the season as he came in with high expectations. After dominating the McDonald’s All-American Game a year ago, he jumped into the top five of the majority of NBA mock drafts.

Despite the slow start, Little showed flashes this season and has seemingly put it together. Against Kentucky earlier this season, he struggled to the tune of four points on only 2-8 shooting from the field. For the season, Little now averages 10 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

North Carolina really came on about a month ago and the combination of Little and Coby White is a big reason why. If the Tar Heels are without their five-star frosh, that takes away a big mismatch that Auburn would have had to deal with.

Not only that, it would also obviously increase the chances the Tigers have of winning. If Kentucky can win Friday night, I’d much rather take a matchup with Bruce Pearl’s streaky squad than the red-hot Tar Heels.

Hopefully for Little’s sake, he’s ready to go tomorrow. If not, this Sweet 16 matchup just got a lot more interesting.

For what it’s worth, LSU’s Tremont Waters was forced to miss two regular-season games while battling the flu, though this is obviously of far greater importance since it’s win or go home time.