The 2009–2010 Tar Heels struggled throughout the regular season finishing with a 16–15 record,[42] 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.[43] 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.
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.[48][citation needed] 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.

In 1921, the school joined the Southern Conference.[23] Overall, the Tar Heels played 32 seasons in the Southern Conference from 1921 to 1953. During that period they won 304 games and lost 111 for a winning percentage of 73.3%. The Tar Heels won the Southern Conference regular season 9 times and the Southern Conference Tournament Championship 8 times.
The 2010–2011 Tar Heels, with the addition of Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall, and Reggie Bullock, eighth in the preseason polls, struggled out the gates, starting with a 2-2 record, the worst start since the 2001–02 season. After losses to Illinois and Texas, the Tar Heels fell out of the rankings. The losses of senior Will Graves, to dismissal, and Larry Drew II, to transfer and also the unexpected off-season transfers of David and Travis Wear did not help matters. However, the Tar Heels improved greatly during the conference season, finishing first in the ACC regular season with a 14-2 record. Williams was named Conference Coach of the Year for his efforts of getting his team to work through the adversity to finish strong in the regular season.[44] Also during the season, the term Tar Heel Blue Steel was coined, referencing the Tar Heel men's basketball walk-ons. The term was started by one of the players, Stewart Cooper, in hopes that it would be a replacement for "walk-ons" and other less catchy names and soon enough Roy Williams caught on, as well as the rest of the Tar Heel Nation. North Carolina lost to Duke in the ACC Tournament Finals and made a significant run in the NCAA Tournament until they were eliminated in the Elite Eight by Kentucky, finishing with a 29-8 record.[45]
In 1921, the school joined the Southern Conference.[23] Overall, the Tar Heels played 32 seasons in the Southern Conference from 1921 to 1953. During that period they won 304 games and lost 111 for a winning percentage of 73.3%. The Tar Heels won the Southern Conference regular season 9 times and the Southern Conference Tournament Championship 8 times.
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).[2] 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,[3] 32 Atlantic Coast Conference regular season titles,[4] and an Atlantic Coast Conference record 20 outright Regular Season Championships.[4] 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.[5]
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.”[51] “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.“ [52] "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.[53]
The WNBA season wraps up tonight with a decisive game five in the finals between the Washington Mystics and Connecticut Sun. One Tar Heel will feature prominently. LaToya Sanders is in her seventh WNBA season and her fourth with the Mystics. She’s started every game for Washington this season, as they finished with the best record in the league. (Tar Heel Blog)
North Carolina has been ranked in the Top 25 in the AP Poll an all-time record 908 weeks,[13] has beaten #1 ranked teams a record 14 times,[14] has the most consecutive 20-win seasons with 31,[15] and the most consecutive top-3 ACC regular season finishes with 37.[15] North Carolina has ended the season ranked in the Top-25 of the AP Poll 50 times and in the Top-25 of the Coaches' Poll 52 times. Further, the Tar Heels have finished the season ranked #1 in the AP Poll 5 times and ranked #1 in Coaches' Poll 6 times. In 2008, the Tar Heels received the first unanimous preseason #1 ranking in the history of either the Coaches' Poll[16] or the AP Poll.[17] In 2012, ESPN ranked North Carolina #1 on its list of the 50 most successful programs of the past 50 years.[18]
The 2010–2011 Tar Heels, with the addition of Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall, and Reggie Bullock, eighth in the preseason polls, struggled out the gates, starting with a 2-2 record, the worst start since the 2001–02 season. After losses to Illinois and Texas, the Tar Heels fell out of the rankings. The losses of senior Will Graves, to dismissal, and Larry Drew II, to transfer and also the unexpected off-season transfers of David and Travis Wear did not help matters. However, the Tar Heels improved greatly during the conference season, finishing first in the ACC regular season with a 14-2 record. Williams was named Conference Coach of the Year for his efforts of getting his team to work through the adversity to finish strong in the regular season.[44] Also during the season, the term Tar Heel Blue Steel was coined, referencing the Tar Heel men's basketball walk-ons. The term was started by one of the players, Stewart Cooper, in hopes that it would be a replacement for "walk-ons" and other less catchy names and soon enough Roy Williams caught on, as well as the rest of the Tar Heel Nation. North Carolina lost to Duke in the ACC Tournament Finals and made a significant run in the NCAA Tournament until they were eliminated in the Elite Eight by Kentucky, finishing with a 29-8 record.[45]
Guthridge retired in 2000 and North Carolina turned to Matt Doherty, the head coach at Notre Dame and a player on the 1982 championship team, to lead the Tar Heels.[38] Doherty had little success while at North Carolina. In his first season, the Heels were ranked #1 in the polls in the middle of the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule and finished with a 26–7 record. The bottom fell out the following year, as the Tar Heels finished the season with a record of 8–20, the worst season in school history. They missed postseason play entirely for the first time since the 1965–66 season (including a record 27 straight NCAA Tournament appearances) and finished with a losing record for the first time since 1962 (Dean Smith's first year as coach). They also finished 4–12 in the ACC—only the program's second losing ACC record ever. The 12 losses were six more than the Tar Heels had ever suffered in a single season of ACC play, and placed them in a tie for 7th place—the program's first finish below fourth place ever. The season also saw the end of UNC's run of 31 straight 20-win seasons and 35 straight seasons of finishing third or higher in the ACC.
Cole Anthony’s reaction to all his preseason hype: a shrug. “At the end of the day, from what the projections are saying, I feel I can do more than that,” he said. “I don’t want to just be first team All-ACC. I want to be Player of the Year.” Anthony walks the talk. The former Archbishop Molloy High School star is frequently in the gym late getting extra shots up. (New York Post)
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.[39] 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.[40] North Carolina lost in the national semifinals of the 2008 NCAA tournament to Williams' former program Kansas.
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.[32] 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.[33] 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.[34] 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.[35]
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.[48][citation needed] 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.
The ACC tips off its regular season Tuesday, Nov. 5, and Wednesday, Nov. 6, with a total of seven conference matchups, four of which will air on ACC Network. Louisville travels to Miami, and Georgia Tech visits NC State on Nov. 5 in the first men’s basketball games on the network. The network also airs a doubleheader the following evening with Notre Dame at North Carolina and reigning national champion Virginia playing at Syracuse.

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."
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