Record: 28-8 overall, 12-2 ACC(1st place)
ACC Tournament: Lost to NCSU in the semifinals
NCAA Tournament: Lost to Georgia in the Elite Eight
Roster: Jim Braddock, John Brownlee, Brad Daugherty, Matt Doherty, Cecil Exum, Steve Hale, Curtis Hunter, Michael Jordan, Timo Makkonen, Warren Martin, Sam Perkins, Buzz Peterson.
Source: UNC Media Guide
Of the 14 teams left to rank, eight of them went to the Final Four and three of them won the national title. That means slots 4-14 will include a close to even mix of six teams that missed the final weekend and five that played in the national semifinals but lost. At this point we are beginning to split some pretty thin hairs, especially when you consider I am putting a team with Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins at #14.
This team was wildly inconsistent, did not really dominate their opponents and while they were in a position to get back to the Final Four, it simply did not materialize. Among the memorable aspects of this season was watching the defending national champions lose their first two games and needing triple OT versus Tulane to avoid an 0-3 start. A few games later the Heels lost to Tulsa and was sitting at 3-3 when they reeled off 18 straight wins that basically took them from being unranked back to #1 in the nation at which point they lost three straight to Villanova, Maryland and NC State when the Wolfpack had begun their improbable run.
Speaking of the Wolfpack, the OT loss in the ACC Tournament to the eventual national champions is one of the reasons I remember this season is a fairly negative light. NCSU had dealt with some injuries but got them back at the right time to pull things together and beat UNC not once but twice, the latter instance to get to the ACC title game which they needed to win to even get into the NCAA Tournament. Losing that game to NCSU was infuriating on a variety of levels, mainly because UNC had been ruling the roost with both Duke and NCSU on supposed downward turns. And there was also something about Jim Valvano we just did not like.
Of course this did not stop the Heels from making a run into the Elite Eight where they faced a perfectly winnable game against Georgia. Now, I am pretty sure this did not matter but you might recall before this game Sam Perkins answered a question about playing Georgia by saying, "Georgia who?" Yeah, not the smartest PR move their Big Smooth. It usually never ends well when something like that happens and it did not for the Heels in this case. Then again, given the magical run NC State was on, losing to Georgia likely spared the Heels the embarrassment of dropping a game to the Pack in the Final Four, something that could never be lived down. Just ask Virginia.
Countdown So Far