THB Countdown Update: 2013 Edition

Ed Zurga

A few years ago, I put together a countdown of the best UNC teams I remember seeing play(1982-present.) At the end of every season I evaluate the current team and update the rankings accordingly. Let's see where 2013 fits in the picture.

By way of introduction, my criteria for ranking teams can be a tad subjective. The stats play less of a role here because there are differences between eras that make stats sort of moot. Instead I tend to rely on factors like overall accomplishments especially in the postseason. The personnel comes into play and as will be the case with this update, looking at how this team would do head-to-head against other UNC teams in the rankings to determine the proper placement.

Here is the current team's resume:

Season: 2012-13
Record: 25-11 overall, 12-6 ACC(3rd place)
ACC Tournament: Runner-up
NCAA Tournament: Lost in Round of 32

Roster: Reggie Bullock, Luke Davis, P.J. Hairston, Desmond Hubert, Joel James, James Manor, James Michael McAdoo, Leslie McDonald, Wade Moody, Marcus Paige, Denzel Robinson, Jackson Simmons, Dexter Strickland, Frank Tanner and J.P. Tokoto.

As you will see in the overall rankings below, how far a team went in the NCAA Tournament probably has the most bearing on generally placing the team. In other words, NCAA title teams are going to be at the top. The other teams get sorted out accordingly and while postseason finish is important, it isn't the dominant factor in some cases(see the 2000 Final Four team being 27th) When it comes to the 2013 team instead of looking at round of exit I opted to look at NCAA Tournament seeding and that considered them in this group of UNC teams which, save one, have either been #6 or #8 seeds.

24. 1996
25. 1999
26. 2000
27. 2004
28. 1990

When trying to determine where this year's team should fall, I kept getting stuck on the one real oddity about this team and that was lack of wins over "better" teams. The three best wins this team had were UNLV, NC State and Virginia all coming at home. Since Maryland is in the NIT semifinals, that 3-0 against the Terps looks okay but not great. UNC went 0-5 versus the top two teams in the ACC, split with the two right below them and went 10-0 against everyone else. UNC did lost against a bad Texas team on the road but nothing else was shocking in terms of getting a loss. In the case of the five teams 24-28 above they all have to something to hand their hats on. The 1996 team opened ACC play 7-1 and lost by two in the Maui Finals to #3 Villanova(who they lost to by 20 later in the season) There was a win over #16 Stanford and #9 Wake Forest. The 1999 team won the preseason NIT, beat #3 Stanford, #14 Purdue and #5 Maryland in the ACC Tournament. The 2000 team ripped through three ranked teams to reach the Final Four and won the Maui Invitational to start the season. In 2004 there was a win over eventual national champion UConn and 1990 close out the regular season by beating two of that season's Final Four in Georgia Tech and Duke.

Even the 2010 team(which is #29) had more wins over ranked teams than 2013 did but there is only so far this standard can take you. The point is, the 2013's lack of quality wins makes it very difficult to slot them ahead of anyone but the three non-NCAA Tourney teams of the 32 UNC teams listed. And when you consider how weak the ACC is this season compared to the years above, slotting this team as the "worst" NCAA Tournament-bound Tar Heel team in the THB Countdown makes a lot of sense. So without further ado, here are the updated rankings.

1. 1982
2. 2009
3. 2005
4. 1993
5. 2008
6. 1998
7. 1995
8. 1984
9. 1987
10. 1997
11. 1991
12. 2007
13. 2012
14. 2011
15. 1986
16. 1994
17. 1983
18. 1989
19. 1988
20. 1985
21. 2006
22. 2001
23. 1992
24. 1996
25. 1999
26. 2000
27. 2004
28. 1990
29. 2013
30. 2010
31. 2003
32. 2002

Wait a minute. 32 teams? That is just the right number for some sort of bracket. Hmmmmm......

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