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.
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. 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.
^ The Helms Foundation named its own national college basketball champion for each year from 1936 through 1982. The foundation also retroactively awarded championships from 1901 through 1935. While the 1924 team was undefeated, they did not play a single opponent from north of the Mason–Dixon line; indeed, intersectional play would not start on a regular basis for another decade. However, the 1924 Tar Heels did beat the Kentucky Wildcats that season in a battle of what most considered the two best teams in the nation.
The 2011–2012 Tar Heels finished the regular season with a final record of 32-6, including a 14–2 record in ACC regular season play which allowed the team to win the conference regular season championship outright. The team fell to Florida State in the championship game of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament. The team was a #1 seed in the Midwest Regional of the 2012 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament; the team reached the Elite Eight and was defeated by Kansas 80-67. This defeat was the second time UNC lost to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament with Roy Williams as UNC head coach. He previously coached Kansas from 1988 to 2003. The loss to Kansas was also UNC's second straight loss in the Elite Eight, after losing to Kentucky the year before. Kansas later fell to Kentucky 67-59 in the National Championship Game. Before the Kansas game, the Tar Heels won their previous three games in the NCAA Tournament by an average of 13.7 points. In the second-round game versus Creighton, starting UNC point guard Kendall Marshall broke his right wrist with 10:56 remaining in the second half with UNC leading 66-50. Marshall continued to play by dribbling primarily with his left hand, including getting fouled on a drive to the basket with 7:09 left in the second half. He left the game against Creighton with two minutes left with UNC leading 85-69. Williams announced Kendall Marshall's injury at the Creighton post-game press conference. Kendall Marshall did not play in UNC's two following games in the NCAA Tournament, a 73-65 overtime win over Ohio in the Sweet 16 and the aforementioned 67-80 loss to Kansas in the Elite Eight.
Right now, Roy Williams says he’s comfortable with an eight-man rotation, and because of that, Leaky Black will be one of two players in crossover roles. Within UNC's system, the point guard is separate while the two wings and two big men each have similar responsibilities. Black will be called on to understand both the point guard and wing spots. (Heels Maven)
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.
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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.
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)
In 1960, the Tar Heels were placed on NCAA probation for "improper recruiting entertainment" of basketball prospects. As a result, they were barred from the 1961 NCAA tournament and also withdrew from the 1961 ACC Tournament. Following the season, Chancellor William Aycock forced McGuire to resign. As a replacement, Aycock selected one of McGuire's assistants, Kansas alumnus Dean Smith.
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)