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THF Countdown #18: 2006

Season: 2005-2006
Record: 23-8 overall, 12-4(2nd place)
ACC Tournament: Lost to Boston College in the semifinals

NCAA Tournament: Lost to George Mason in the 2nd Round

Roster: Dewey Burke, Mike Copeland, Bobby Frasor, Marcus Ginyard, Danny Green, Tyler Hansbrough, Wes Miller, David Noel, Will Robinson, Byron Sanders, Reyshawn Terry, Quentin Thomas, Thomas Wilkins, Surry Wood.

Source: UNC Media Guide

If we were ranking Tar Heel teams based on how much we loved watching them regardless of record, this team would battle it out with 1993 for #1 in my opinion. The common thread between those two teams was the emergence of an incredible senior leader. In 1993 it was George Lynch, in 2006 it was David Noel coming in with his paltry 3 ppg from the national title team.

There were multiple aspects that made this team fun but what really sticks out to me was the fact what they accomplished was all gravy. The Heels won the title in 2005 which was promptly followed the top seven players leaving Chapel Hill for graduation or the draft. But hey, what did we care? The way I looked at it, if you had come to me prior to the 2005 season and told me UNC would win the title but lose a slew of players turning 2006 into a potential hell I would have said, "Give me the title." Imagine mine and everyone else's surprise when we got the 2005 title followed by massive player losses and still ended up 2nd place in the ACC based largely on the play of three former reserves and a bunch of freshmen. It was very much a nightmare in ABC Land since they were all certain this season would be another shot at taking down the Heels. It was profoundly sad to disappoint them.

On top of all of this, we all came to know a freshman named Tyler Hansbrough who is now on the verge of becoming one of the greatest UNC players of all time. Back then he was just this wide open, all effort freshman who averaged 18 ppg, was the ACC Rookie of the Year and during one game against George Tech in Chapel Hill dropped 40 points on the Jackets to rally the Heels from a deep hole to win 82-75. The crown jewel of his rookie campaign came in the finale at Duke where Hansbrough drove a landscaper's stake into Coach K floor to lay claim to Cameron Indoor Stadium and as a bonus received the deed to Shelden Williams rear end, capped off by this:

The game at Duke was really the peak. UNC really did not play well after that and ended up falling prey to the George Mason juggernaut in the NCAA Tournament. Of course that really does not take way from the torture we dealt to our rivals. Aside from ruining the senior night for JJ Redick, the Heels also had that fabulous visit to the RBC Center where they precipitated the end of the Herb Sendek era by whipping the Pack by 24. NCSU only won once more that season and Sendek left amid a full blown fan rebellion. Nothing like sticking it to your chief rivals in a "down" year.

Countdown So Far

19. 2001
20. 1992
21. 1996
22. 1999
23. 2000
24. 2004
25. 1990
26. 2003
27. 2002