The 2010–2011 Tar Heels, with the addition of Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall, and Reggie Bullock, eighth in the preseason polls, struggled out the gates, starting with a 2-2 record, the worst start since the 2001–02 season. After losses to Illinois and Texas, the Tar Heels fell out of the rankings. The losses of senior Will Graves, to dismissal, and Larry Drew II, to transfer and also the unexpected off-season transfers of David and Travis Wear did not help matters. However, the Tar Heels improved greatly during the conference season, finishing first in the ACC regular season with a 14-2 record. Williams was named Conference Coach of the Year for his efforts of getting his team to work through the adversity to finish strong in the regular season. Also during the season, the term Tar Heel Blue Steel was coined, referencing the Tar Heel men's basketball walk-ons. The term was started by one of the players, Stewart Cooper, in hopes that it would be a replacement for "walk-ons" and other less catchy names and soon enough Roy Williams caught on, as well as the rest of the Tar Heel Nation. North Carolina lost to Duke in the ACC Tournament Finals and made a significant run in the NCAA Tournament until they were eliminated in the Elite Eight by Kentucky, finishing with a 29-8 record.
While historic Carmichael Auditorium was under renovation, the women's team played the 2008–09 season at the Dean Smith Center to the south of campus. The final game at the old Carmichael was an 82–51 rout of local rivals Duke in front of a sell-out 8,010 attendance, completing an unbeaten home and conference season. Upon reopening, the building's name was changed to Carmichael Arena.
The North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball program is the intercollegiate men's basketball team of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels have won seven NCAA men's college national championships (1924, 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009, and 2017). North Carolina's six NCAA Tournament Championships are third-most all-time, behind University of California, Los Angeles(11) and University of Kentucky(8). They have also won 18 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament titles, 32 Atlantic Coast Conference regular season titles, and an Atlantic Coast Conference record 20 outright Regular Season Championships. The program has produced many notable players who went on to play in the NBA, including three of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History: Billy Cunningham, Michael Jordan and James Worthy. Many Tar Heel assistant coaches have gone on to become head coaches elsewhere.