North Carolina brings back three of its top four scorers from a team that played for the national title so it is not surprising that the Tar Heels come in at No. 1 in the BetUS ranking of the top 25 men’s college basketball teams in the country.
Forward Armando Bacot is among the top contenders for the national player of the year while guards Caleb Love, R.J. Davis and Leaky Black are all back for Hubert Davis’ second season at the helm of the Tar Heels.
North Carolina added a top-20 recruiting class and also brought in former Northwestern forward Pete Nance.
When looking at the college basketball playoff odds, North Carolina (+850) is tied with Kentucky and Gonzaga for the best odds to win the national title.
North Carolina came in at No. 1 in both The Associated Press and Coaches poll. The Tar Heels picked up 47 of the 62 first-place votes in the AP poll and was listed at No. 1 in 23 of 32 ballots in the Coaches poll.
North Carolina was picked to win the ACC title ahead of fellow top-10 team Duke.
North Carolina Tar Heels
- 2021-22 record: 29-10
- 2021-22 ACC Record: 15-5
- Coach: Hubert Davis
- Odds to win national title: +850
When North Carolina dropped back-to-back games to Miami and Wake Forest by an average of 25 points, there were those who wondered if Davis had what it took to follow in the footsteps of Dean Smith and Roy Williams. When the season ended, the Tar Heels led by double digits in the second half of the national title game.
Bacot, who led the country in double-doubles as well as guards Love (15.9 points, 3.9 assists), Davis (13.5 points, 3.6 assists) and Black all returned as did Puff Johnson. Brady Manek graduated, forward Dawson Garcia transferred to Minnesota while guards Anthony Harris and Kerwin Walton landed at Rhode Island and Texas Tech.
UNC did bring in 6-foot-11 Nance from Northwestern where he averaged 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He put up nearly 12 PPG against ranked teams during the regular season.
With Davis not playing in the exhibition game against Johnson C. Smith, the starting lineup featured Bacot, Love, Black, Nance and D’Marco Dunn. Dunn finished his freshman season with 22 points in 23 games.
Freshman Seth Trimble had 11 points and five rebounds off the bench while classmates Tyler Nickel and Will Shaver combined to play 25 minutes.
Freshman firsts 🔥
— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) October 31, 2022
North Carolina Tar Heels Outlook
North Carolina seemingly has it all. Bacot is one of the best frontcourt players in the country who finished third among Division I players in rebounds per game last season and second in offensive rebounds. Losing his running mate when Manek graduated, UNC went out and landed Nance. He isn’t the outside shooter that Manek was but will provide a physical presence inside.
According to the sportsbook, Bacot (+600) is the favorite to win the national player of the year award.
The backcourt could be the best in the nation with Love, Davis and Black all coming back. Love is being projected as a late first -round draft pick.
North Carolina connected on 11 3-pointers in the exhibition game with Love having four of them. If North Carolina can make shots from the perimeter with regularity, it might be impossible to guard.
With the transfer of three players, there are questions about North Carolina’s depth so perhaps the incoming freshmen and last year’s freshmen who didn’t get to play much can answer the doubters.
Non-conference games against Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State as well with a matchup against either Villanova or Iowa State will test UNC before conference play gets underway.
The February schedule could be quite challenging with contests against Duke, Wake Forest, Miami, Notre Dame, Virginia and Florida State with four of those matchups on the road.
Something to keep in mind for those who bet online, North Carolina covered against the spread in each of the six NCAA tournament games and in 10 of its last 11 contests.
2022-23 North Carolina Schedule
- Season opener: vs UNC Wilmington, Nov. 7, 9 p.m. ET
- ACC opener: at Virginia Tech, Dec. 3, 7 p.m. ET
Other Games to Watch
- at Portland, Nov. 24, 1 p.m. ET
- vs Iowa State/Villanova (at Portland, Ore.), Nov. 25, time TBA
- at Indiana, Nov. 30, 9:15 p.m. ET
- vs Ohio State (at New York), Dec. 17, 3 p.m. ET
- vs Michigan (at Charlotte, N.C.), Dec. 21, 7 p.m. ET
- vs Wake Forest, Jan. 4, 9 p.m. ET
- vs Notre Dame, Jan. 7, 11:30 a.m. ET
- at Virginia, Jan. 10, 9 p.m. ET
- at Louisville, Jan. 14, 2 p.m. ET
- at Syracuse, Jan. 24, 9 p.m. ET
- at Duke, Feb. 4, 6:30 p.m. ET
- at Wake Forest, Feb. 7, 7 p.m. ET
- vs Miami, Feb. 13, 7 p.m. ET
- at Notre Dame, Feb. 22, 9 p.m. ET
- vs Virginia, Feb. 25, 6 or 8 p.m. ET
- at Florida State, Feb. 27, 7 p.m. ET
- vs Duke, Mar. 4, 6:30 p.m. ET