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 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.
In 1953, North Carolina split from the Southern Conference and became a founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tar Heels won their first NCAA Championship in 1957 under fifth year head coach Frank McGuire, who led an undefeated 32-0 squad dominated by Lennie Rosenbluth and several other transplants from the New York City area to a 54-53 triple overtime victory over Wilt Chamberlain's Kansas Jayhawks. C.D. Chesley, a Washington, D.C. television producer, piped the 1957 championship game in Kansas City to a hastily created network of five stations across North Carolina—the ancestor to the current syndicated ACC football and basketball package from Raycom Sports—which helped prove pivotal in basketball becoming a craze in the state. The title game was the only triple overtime final game in championship history, which followed a triple overtime North Carolina defeat of Michigan State 74-70 the previous night.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo singles out safety Juan Thornhill and lineman Khalen Saunders, the Chiefs' two top defensive draft picks, as players he was particularly eager to see play in Saturday night's preseason opener against the Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium. "I'm really looking more for how cohesive a unit we can be," Spagnuolo said. "To me, communication and working together as a unit . . . That's as important as anything. If we don't get that squared away in the first game, it's going to be a long season."
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.
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.
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)