Katz says Tar Heels expected for Greensboro/Lawson won’t play today

Andy Katz at espn.com is saying he expects the North Carolina Tar Heels to be making their way to the Greensboro Coliseum for the NCAA Tournament, but his news is not so good for ACC Player of the Year, Ty Lawson, in today’s game with the Virginia Tech Hokies in Atlanta.

ATLANTA — North Carolina junior point guard Ty Lawson won’t play against Virginia Tech in the ACC quarterfinal at the Georgia Dome because of a jammed right toe, Tar Heels officials said prior to the noon Friday tipoff.

Lawson, the ACC player of the year, walked out with his teammates for warmups but was wearing a protective black boot on his right foot.

Lawson injured the toe in practice prior to Sunday’s regular-season victory against Duke at Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels are expected to start senior guard Bobby Frasor in Lawson’s place.

Atlantic Coast Conference staff member Brian Morrison said it was the first time an ACC player of the year missed his team’s tournament opener.

Lawson’s absence could be a huge boost to Virginia Tech, which desperately needs to beat the Tar Heels to improve its chances at gaining an NCAA at-large berth.

The Hokies (18-13) lost to the top-seeded Tar Heels (27-3) in Blacksburg, Va., 86-78 on March 4. Lawson played 35 minutes in that game, scoring 22 points with five assists and one turnover. Lawson got to the line, too, for 8 of 12 free throws and made 7 of 13 shots.

Lawson played 36 minutes against Duke despite the nagging injury. He scored 13 points and had nine assists and four turnovers.

The Tar Heels are likely safe for an anticipated NCAA tournament No. 1 seed, which makes resting Lawson a sensible move. The Tar Heels are expected to begin the NCAAs in Greensboro, N.C., next Thursday.