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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
North Carolina is still alive in the recruitment for five-star shooting guard Bryce Thompson, one of the top uncommitted recruits in the 2020 class. The Tulsa, Oklahoma native cut his list down to seven teams in August. On Sunday, Thompson cut his list one more time as he trimmed it down to four finalists: UNC, Kansas, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma. (Keeping It Heel)