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 conference schedule features 10 games in December, including a full complement of seven ACC games the first weekend (Dec. 6-8). The league schedule resumes on New Year’s Eve with a trio of games with Boston College at Duke, Georgia Tech at Florida State and Miami at Clemson. Every conference member will play at least one home and road league game prior to the start of the new year. The conference schedule concludes Saturday, March 7.
With Ed Davis sidelined for at least four weeks due to a fractured left fibula, it’s now time for Tony Bradley to show what he can do at the NBA level. The 21-year-old Bradley has played only 15 games in his NBA career so far, nine in his rookie season, three last season, and three in garbage time this season. Now, though, he’ll get real NBA minutes that matter. (Salt Lake Tribune)
After wrapping up practice on Wednesday afternoon, players from the North Carolina women's basketball team shifted their attention to preparing for Halloween. The team headed to UNC Children's Hospital, where they helped kids get ready to leave being patients behind for a day and instead become Harry Potter, Captain America or Wonder Woman. (GoHeels.com)
The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Monday the 50 men's college basketball players to watch during the season-long competition for the 2020 Naismith Trophy Men's Player of the Year honor. University of North Carolina freshman point guard Cole Anthony is on the list. The Naismith Trophy will be awarded during the Final Four in Atlanta on April 5, 2020. (GoHeels.com)
In Williams' first season, the Tar Heels finished 19–11 and were ranked in a final media poll for the first time in three years. They returned to the NCAA tournament and were ousted in the second round by Texas. The following year, the Tar Heels won their fourth NCAA title and Williams' first as a head coach. After winning the championship, Williams lost his top seven scorers, but the 2005–06 season saw the arrival of freshman Tyler Hansbrough and Williams was named Coach of the Year. The Tar Heels swept the ACC regular season and tournament titles in 2007 and 2008. The 2008 ACC Tournament was the first time North Carolina has ever won the ACC Tournament without defeating at least one in-state rival during the tournament. North Carolina lost in the national semifinals of the 2008 NCAA tournament to Williams' former program Kansas.
From the ACC's inception in 1953 to 2001, the Tar Heels did not finish worse than a tie for fourth place in ACC play. By comparison, all of the ACC's other charter members finished last at least once in that time. From 1965 to 2001, they did not finish worse than a tie for third, and for the first 21 of those years they did not finish worse than a tie for second.
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)