What is happening to UNC basketball? The Tar Heels have gone from being a blue-blood team to consistently fighting to make the NCAA tournament. Performances from the last few years have had them grabbing back-to-back 8 seeds in the tournament. Now that they are trending towards a similar seed for the third straight season, they are officially a struggling program. The Tar Heels are trending the wrong way in college hoops, how much longer before they aren’t a blueblood?
North Carolina has consistently been one of the better teams in college basketball prior to COVID. In the 2000s they have been the number one seed 8 times. That is 8 times in 23 years which is overall pretty impressive. While they have faced rebuilding seasons in that span, none have three years where they haven’t gotten higher than a 6 seed.
I know, I know, they are the NCAA runners-up, but that still doesn’t change their mediocrity. Last year’s miracle run was something out of a movie. They were able to beat Baylor and Duke by simply outsourcing the other team. When they finally struggled to score, they lost. The bottom line from last season can be attributed to the madness of march.
Coming into this year the expectations were high, and UNC folded under the pressure. A 5-0 start turned into a 5-4 start, and they went from #1 to unranked in 2 weeks. Recently they have won three straight in order to get back into the tournament conversation. They still remain on the bubble with one regular season game left. How did UNC go from a consistent contender to a bubble team?
Many people are pointing their finger at Roy Williams for UNC’s recent struggles. The longtime coach retired following a first-round exit in 2020-21. The following year Hubert Davis took over and salvaged his season with the miracle tournament run. Roy Williams was a highly praised coach, but it is too early to critique Davis. This is his second season as the coach, and it can’t be his fault yet.
Recruiting is somewhat of a question mark in North Carolina. Looking over the years, they don’t jump off the charts getting big-name recruits. This puts more pressure on the coach to improve their players in order to get results. I think this argument is also inconclusive because the recruits in college basketball can play very differently in college. Although UNC ranking 29th in the 2023 class is cause for concern considering their stature in college basketball.
UNC hasn’t played to the standard of their program at all this year. To think that this has been repeated for three years is cause for concern, but a lot of changes have been occurring in the program. When any coach leaves the program, there will be a drop-off. Unfortunately for UNC, they don’t have high hopes to win a national championship this year either. Once again, Davis still needs time before he can be blamed for their recent struggles. Who knows Davis could make another miracle run for the Tar Heels in 2023. Overall, the Tar Heels haven’t been demoted to a bubble team, but they are getting close. Talent doesn’t seem to be the issue based on previous recuiting classes. Two more years of double-digit seeds with first-round exits will be their official regulation. UNC will need tourney results in order to salvage this season once again. Unfortunately, I don’t think they have it in them again.
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