North Carolina Tar Heels Trends
The University of North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball program is considered one of the most successful programs in NCAA history. The Tar Heels have won five NCAA tournament championships in 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005 and 2009, and were retroactively named the national champions by the Helms Athletic Foundation for their undefeated season in 1924. They have also won 17 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament titles, and 27 Atlantic Coast Conference regular season titles (including an Atlantic Coast Conference record 17 outright Regular Season Championships). It has a rivalry with Duke, whose campus is located only eight miles away in Durham, North Carolina.
North Carolina's Win/Loss Trends
From the Tar Heels' first season in 1910-11 through the 2008-09 season, the Tar Heels amassed a 73.6% all-time winning percentage (second highest in NCAA Division I history), winning 1,984 games and losing 703 games in 99 seasons. The Tar Heels also have the most consecutive 20-win seasons, with 31 seasons from the 1970-71 seasons through 2000-2001 season. On March 2, 2010, North Carolina became the second college basketball program to reach 2,000 wins in its history after University of Kentucky, and the first to do so within 100 years.
Post-Season Play Trends
The Tar Heels have appeared in the NCAA finals nine times, have participated in a record 18 NCAA Final Fours, have made it into the NCAA tournament 41 times (tied for second-most all-time), and hold the record for all-time NCAA Tournament victories (102) record. North Carolina has made five appearances in the NIT Tournament, has appeared in two NIT Semifinals, and the Tar Heels won the National Invitation Tournament in 1971.
North Carolina's Ranking Trends
The team has also been the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament 13 times, the latest being in 2009 (most #1 seeds all-time). Carolina has been ranked in the Top 25 in the AP Poll 703 times (1st all-time), has beaten #1 teams a record 12 times, has the most consecutive 20-win seasons, with 31, and has the most consecutive top-3 ACC finishes with 37. North Carolina ended the season in the Top 25 among Division 1 schools 42 times, as ranked in the AP Poll, and 44 times in the Coaches' Poll. The Tar Heels ended the season with a Number 1 ranking in the AP Poll and Coaches' Polls five times each. In 2008, the Tar Heels received the first unanimous preseason Number 1 ranking in the history of either the Coaches' Poll or the AP Poll.
Early Basketball History at North Carolina
North Carolina, under Coach Nathaniel Carmell, played its first basketball game against Virginia Christian, on January 27, 1910, a 42-21 win for North Carolina.
In 1921, North Carolina joined the Southern Conference. The 1924 Tar Heels squad went 26-0 and was retroactively awarded the national championship by the Helms Athletic Foundation in 1936. 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 were winners of the regular season for nine times and won the Southern Conference Championships eight times.
Tar Heels under Frank McGuire
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 under coach Frank McGuire in 1957. C.D. Chesley, a Washington, D.C. television producer, piped the 1957 championship game in Kansas City to a hastily-created network of stations across North Carolina, which stoked the basketball craze in the state. The 1957 National Championship game versus Wilt Chamberlain's Kansas Jayhawks was the only triple overtime contest in championship history.
In 1960, the Tar Heels were placed on NCAA probation for "improper recruiting entertainment" of basketball prospects. This was the only time any sport at UNC has been sanctioned by the NCAA. 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 alum Dean Smith.
Winning Trends under Dean Smith
Dean Smith coached the Tar Heels from 1961 to 1997 and brought an unprecedented level of success to the team. Although his reign as coach was ultimately successful, his early teams yielded disappointing results, and Carolina fans, accustomed to wins, hung Smith in effigy.
When Smith retired in 1997, he had the most wins ever of any NCAA Division I men's basketball coach with 879 wins, and the 9th highest winning percentage (77.6%). During Smith's time as head coach, North Carolina won the ACC regular season championship 17 times, won the ACC tournament 13 times, won the NIT in 1971, went to the NCAA tournament 27 times, appeared in 11 Final Fours, and won two NCAA national tournament titles, in 1982 and 1993. While at North Carolina, Smith helped promote desegregation by recruiting the University's first African American scholarship basketball player, Charlie Scott.
Tar Heels Basketball after Coach Smith
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. During Guthridge's three seasons as head coach, he posted a 80-28 record, making him tied for the 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.
Guthridge retired in 2000 and North Carolina turned to Matt Doherty to lead the Tar Heels. Doherty posted downward trends 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.
Doherty's second season, however, was the worst in recent history.The Tar Heels finished the season with a record of 8-20, missing postseason play entirely for the first time since the 1965-66 season and finishing with a losing record for the first time since 1962. They also finished 4-12 in the ACC, which was 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.
After bringing in one of the top 5 incoming classes for the 2002-2003 season, the Tar Heels won the Preseason NIT and returned to the AP top 25. North Carolina went on to finish the season 17-15, missing the NCAA tournament. Matt Doherty led the Tar Heels to the third round of the 2003 NIT, where they ended their season with a loss to Georgetown.
Recent Trends at North Carolina
Despite the turnaround from the year before and the NIT appearance, at the end of the season Matt Doherty was replaced as head coach by Roy Williams.
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 2005-06 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. North Carolina lost in the national semifinals of the 2008 NCAA tournament. On April 6, 2009, the Tar Heels won their fifth NCAA title by defeating Michigan State. The Tar Heels won all six tournament games by at least 12 points, for an average victory margin of 20.2 points, and only trailed for a total of 10 minutes out of 240 through the entire tournament.
The 2009-2010 Tar Heels finished the regular season with a 16-15 record, and lost in the first round of the ACC Tournament. 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, becoming the second college team to do so after Kentucky
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