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THF Countdown #7: 1984

Season: 1983-84
Record: 28-3 overall, 14-0 ACC(1st place)
ACC Tournament: Lost in semifinals to Duke
NCAA Tournament: Lost to Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen

Roster: Brad Daugherty, Matt Doherty, Cecil Exum, Steve Hale, Michael Jordan, Timo Makkonen, Cliff Morris, Sam Perkins, Buzz Peterson, Dave Popson, Kenny Smith, Joe Wolf.

Source: UNC Media Guide

There is such an incredible similarity between 1984 and 1987 it is only appropriate they be placed back-to-back in this countdown.

This was a great team hands down and it is the common belief among many of us that had Kenny Smith not broken his hand UNC ends up winning the national title.  I would call that a slight stretch given what kind of shenanigans goes on in Final Fours.  However it is a reasonable assumption that if this team could have kept rolling with the same chemistry and momentum it built before the injury to Smith who knows what mnight have happened.

The 1984 team was a perfect roster combination of talent and experience.  You still had three starters left from the 1982 title team in Sam Perkins, Matt Doherty and Michael Jordan.  Jordan had reached that NPOY level and Perkins was near the top of the UNC scoring and rebounding list. Doherty provided that key jack of all trades role you need.  UNC was able to put a lineup on the floor that had Smith/Steve Hale at PG, Jordan at SG, Matt Doherty at SF, Sam Perkins at PF and Brad Daughtery at C.  That is a loaded lineup and well versed in the art of winning a title.

This version of the Tar Heels is also a prime example of how much one or two bad games in March can wreck an entire season.  The regular season in 1984 contained an impressive string of wins over ranked opponents, seven in all.  The only loss came on an off day against Arkansas.  The loss in the ACC semifinals to Duke was a key juncture in ACC history as well as the UNC-Duke rivalry.  The Heels had been riding high while Duke struggled under a new head coach.  UNC had won six straight over Duke including a double OT win in Chapel Hill the week before.  This game turned out to be the moment when Duke began reasserting itself as a viable ACC power.

Still losing in the ACC Tournament was not the end of the world.  UNC was still a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and received a bye in the field of 48 before dispatching Temple putting UNC into the Sweet Sixteen against Indiana.  Then Dan Dakich happened.  If I made a list of opposing players which will never, ever be loved by Tar Heel fans, this guy might top the list.  In fact given what happened that fateful Thursday night 24 years ago, Dakich might have actually been hated less by UNC fans had he went to Duke.

For those who do not remember, Dakich is given credit for being the player to lock down Michael Jordan that night and in the process Jordan ended up with three fouls early leading to some serious time on the bench.  Dean perhaps waited too long to bring Jordan back and by the time the Heels got their act together a furious rally was needed which ultimately fell short.  It was hardly an appropriate ending for Perkins, Doherty and Jordan who wore their Tar Heel jerseys for the last time that night.  Perkins and Doherty graduated while Jordan jumped to the NBA.  Their departure marked the end of a tremendous Tar Heel team whose failure to win the title with such a loaded squad is first among disappointments in the annals of UNC history.

And the 2009 team better make darn sure it stays that way.

Countdown So Far

8. 1987
9. 1997
10. 1991
11. 2007

12. 1986
13. 1994
14. 1983
15. 1989
16. 1988
17. 1985
18. 2006
19. 2001
20. 1992
21. 1996
22. 1999
23. 2000
24. 2004
25. 1990
26. 2003
27. 2002