Dean Smith was widely known for his idea of "The Carolina Way," in which he challenged his players to, “Play hard, play smart, play together.” “The Carolina Way” was an idea of excellence in the classroom, as well as on the court. In Coach Smith's book, The Carolina Way, former player Scott Williams said, regarding Dean Smith, “Winning was very important at Carolina, and there was much pressure to win, but Coach cared more about our getting a sound education and turning into good citizens than he did about winning.“  "The Carolina Way" was evident in many practices the players would implement, including pointing to the player who assisted in a basket, giving him credit as an act of selflessness. This "Thank the Passer" practice is used throughout basketball today.
The 1922 Tar Heels won the SoCon, and the 1924 Tar Heels squad went 26–0, and was retroactively awarded a 'national championship' by the Helms Athletic Foundation in 1943 and later by the Premo-Porretta Power Poll. The Tar Heels also won the 1925 and 1926 SoCon titles, three in a row and four in five seasons. Their fast style of play and stingy defense earned these teams the nickname "White Phantoms", used as an alternative nickname for the Tar Heels into the 1940s.
The 1922 and 1924 teams also included center and guard Cartwright Carmichael and guard Monk McDonald, with the Tar Heels led by forward Jack Cobb from 1924-26. Carmichael was the first Tar Heel to be selected All-American in any sport in 1923, and was again selected in 1924. Cobb was selected All-American in 1924, 1925, and 1926, and was player of the year in 1926. McDonald coached the 1925 team, with Bunn Hackney replacing him at guard.
^ The Helms Foundation named its own national college basketball champion for each year from 1936 through 1982. The foundation also retroactively awarded championships from 1901 through 1935. While the 1924 team was undefeated, they did not play a single opponent from north of the Mason–Dixon line; indeed, intersectional play would not start on a regular basis for another decade. However, the 1924 Tar Heels did beat the Kentucky Wildcats that season in a battle of what most considered the two best teams in the nation.
The 2009–2010 Tar Heels struggled throughout the regular season finishing with a 16–15 record, and dropped to #3 in Division I in all-time wins. They later lost in the first round of the ACC Tournament, playing in the first "play-in" Thursday game for the first time since the ACC grew to 12 teams. The Tar Heels did not receive an NCAA tournament bid, and instead accepted a bid to the NIT. During the season, the Tar Heels reached the 2,000-win milestone with a home win over Miami on March 2, 2010, becoming the second fastest college team to do so (North Carolina was in its 100th season of basketball at the time of this accomplishment). The Tar Heels were able to make it to the final game of the NIT, losing to Dayton in the final game finishing with a 20-17 record.
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In the 2008–09 season, the Tar Heels won their fifth NCAA title by defeating Michigan State in the championship of the 2009 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. The Tar Heels won all six of that year's tournament games by at least 12 points, for an average victory margin of 20.2 points, and only trailed for a total of 10 minutes out of 240 through the entire tournament. Wayne Ellington was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, the fourth Tar Heel so honored.
In 1960, the Tar Heels were placed on NCAA probation for "improper recruiting entertainment" of basketball prospects. As a result, they were barred from the 1961 NCAA tournament and also withdrew from the 1961 ACC Tournament. Following the season, Chancellor William Aycock forced McGuire to resign. As a replacement, Aycock selected one of McGuire's assistants, Kansas alumnus Dean Smith.
Additionally, four of the top eight and six of the top 30 winningest programs in NCAA Division I basketball history currently reside in the ACC. Three of the six active Division I coaches currently in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame are competing in the ACC again this season – Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim.
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.
Courtney Banghart Live, the official radio show of the North Carolina women's basketball program, debuts Monday at noon the Carolina Club. Banghart will join host Matt Krause, the radio play-by-play voice of UNC women's basketball, for the 30-minute show. The duo will discuss the latest news and notes around the program, as well as preview games. (GoHeels.com)
With the departures of several stars from the 2012 team, The Tar Heels would begin a slow climb back to the top following the Elite Eight loss. The 2012-13 season ended with a disappointing loss to Kansas in the tournament for the second year in a row. In 2013-14, the Tar Heels became the only team in men's college basketball history to beat every team ranked in the top 4 in the preseason. The Tar Heels would finish 24-10 that year, ending the year in heartbreak by losing to Iowa State in the final seconds of the Round of 32. The 2014-15 team would improve, finishing the year 4th in the ACC Standings that year and advanced to the Sweet 16, where they would lose to the Wisconsin Badgers. It was also the year that North Carolina would recruit Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson, who were both key contributors to the 2017 National Championship squad.
From the Tar Heels' first season in 1910–11 through the 2018–19 season, the program has amassed a .739 all-time winning percentage (second highest all-time), winning 2,261 games and losing 799 games in 109 seasons. The Tar Heels also have the most consecutive 20-win seasons with 31 seasons from the 1970–71 season through the 2000–2001 season. On March 2, 2010, North Carolina became the second college basketball program to reach 2,000 wins in its history. The Tar Heels are currently ranked 3rd all time in wins trailing Kentucky by 34 games and Kansas by 13 games. The Tar Heels are one of only four Division I Men's Basketball programs to have ever achieved 2,000 victories. Kentucky, Kansas, and Duke are the other three. North Carolina has averaged more wins per season played than any other program in college basketball.
Greensboro Coliseum plays host to the 2020 New York Life ACC Tournament March 10-14, marking the 27th time the facility welcomes the conference tournament, and the first since 2014. Featuring all 15 ACC teams, the event begins with three first-round games on Tuesday, March 10, before concluding on Saturday, March 14 with the championship game. The entire tournament will air exclusively on the ESPN family of networks. Game times and network designations will be announced at a later date.
Smith's early teams were not nearly as successful as McGuire's had been. His first team went only 8–9 as it turned out, the last losing season UNC would suffer for 41 years. His first five teams never won more than 16 games. This grated on a fan base used to winning; in 1965 some of them even hanged him in effigy. However, Smith would go on to take the Tar Heels to a reign of championships and national dominance. When he retired in 1997, Smith's 879 wins were the most ever for any NCAA Division I men's basketball coach, and his 77.61% winning percentage ninth best. During his tenure, North Carolina won or shared 17 ACC regular season titles and won 13 ACC Tournaments. They went to the NCAA tournament 27 times–including 23 in a row from 1975 to 1997–appeared in 11 Final Fours, and won NCAA national tournament titles in 1982 and 1993. They also won the NIT in 1971. The 1982 National Championship team was led by James Worthy, Sam Perkins, and a young Michael Jordan. The 1993 National Championship team starred Donald Williams, George Lynch and Eric Montross. While at North Carolina, Smith helped promote desegregation by recruiting the University's first African American scholarship basketball player Charlie Scott.
Ziaire Williams on UNC: "As far as culture and atmosphere, just the city as a whole, they have everything. The fans are amazing, great support system and of course Roy Williams. He’s a Hall of Fame coach, arguably one of the best to ever do it. Every time I go there it has always been fun. I don’t have a timetable. I don’t want to feel pressured by a certain date." (247 Sports)