The following year, the Tar Heels were ranked #6 in the AP preseason poll, having lost Paige and Johnson but retaining 2016 ACC Tournament MVP Joel Berry II as well as forwards Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks. After early season losses to Indiana and Kentucky, the Tar Heels won their 31st ACC regular season title. Despite never being ranked #1 in the AP Poll and losing to Duke in the semifinals of the ACC tournament, the Heels earned a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, where they advanced to their record 20th Final Four and 11th NCAA tournament title game. They beat Gonzaga 71-65 to give Williams his 3rd national championship, surpassing mentor Dean Smith for most NCAA tournament championships at Carolina, and behind only John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski, and Adolph Rupp for most NCAA tournament championships overall. Just as in the previous year, the Tar Heels finished with a 33-7 overall record and a 14-4 ACC record.
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.
Smith unexpectedly retired before the start of practice for the 1997–98 season. He was succeeded by Bill Guthridge, who had been an assistant coach at the school for 30 years, the last 25 as Smith's top assistant. During Guthridge's three seasons as head coach he posted an 80–28 record, making him tied for the then-NCAA record for most wins by a coach after three seasons. The Tar Heels reached the NCAA Final Four twice, in the 1998 tournament and again in the 2000 tournament. North Carolina reached the Final Four in 2000 as an 8-seed, their lowest seeding in a Final Four appearance.
North Carolina’s championship aspirations begin and end with Cole Anthony. The blue-chip freshman has the talent to go first overall in next year’s NBA draft. Anthony is one of the best players in the country. North Carolina has thrived the last few years by having a number of impressive contributors. This season might look more like a one-man show. (The Ringer)
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 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.
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.
In 2015-2016, led by seniors Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson, the Tar Heels earned their 30th ACC regular season title, 18th ACC tournament title, and 19th Final Four.[circular reference] They also appeared in their 10th NCAA title game, in which they lost on a buzzer beater to Villanova, despite Marcus Paige's dramatic three-pointer to tie the game with 4.7 seconds left.[circular reference] The Tar Heels finished with a 33-7 overall record and a 14-4 ACC record.
Donovan Johnson, the 6-foot-7 wing from Hillcrest Prep (AZ), will visit North Carolina this weekend for his third official visit. He has no other visits planned. Ziaire Williams, the 6-foot-7 small forward from Sierra Canyon (CA), visits Arizona this weekend for his third official visit. And 7-foot center Saba Gigiberia will visit Georgia Tech for his second official visit. (Zag's Blog)