A few years ago I passed the summer by counting down the Tar Heel teams I recall seeing play. Every year since then I update it to include the current season. Last season was a debate in extreme mediocrity. This season we get to deal in a much nice group of teams. By way of explanation of how I decide this. It is more subjective than anything else. I do take into account the record, ACC regular season and tournament finish with a little extra weight on the NCAA Tournament.
Having evaluated the factors for the 2011 team I am thinking they fall somewhere in this range.
Moving them ahead of 1997 and 1991 will not work for a couple of reasons. One, both those teams won the ACC Tournament. Secondly, they both went to the Final Four. There is probably an argument to be had for putting them ahead of 1991 but I am content to let the Final Four appearance be the arbiter there. Likewise I think this team will go ahead of 1986 and 1994 based on NCAA Tournament advancement being the trump. That leaves us with a debate on whether this team is ahead of or behind 2007.
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There is some edge in the numbers for the 2007 team plus the ACC was acknowledge to be stronger from top to bottom than it was in 2011 despite the fact Duke was down that year. In terms of the teams themselves, both played really good defense buoyed in part by a solid frontline and a known shot blocker on the interior. On the perimeter the 2007 was better by about 3% shooting 35% from beyond the arc. The 2007 team was also 6% better on two point FGs which is supported by the much higher offensive efficiency.
If you are talking about intangibles, both teams had a tendency to play poorly at times. 2011 lost to Georgia Tech while 2007 lost to NC State in Raleigh. 2007 did have the big win over Ohio St. in Chapel Hill whereas 2011 beat UK and Duke at home. Overall I think the 2007 was slightly better both in terms of playing in a tougher ACC and was slightly better to the man in my opinion though I would pay cash money to see the 2007 team play the 2011 team. The 2007 team would have the edge with Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough. The 2011 team would have an edge with Harrison Barnes over Reyshawn Terry. I think John Henson/Brandan Wright and Dexter Strickland/Wayne Ellington would effectively cancel each other out. The tiebreaker probably comes with the 2007 bench being deeper and having the likes of Danny Green, Bobby Frasor, Marcus Ginyard, Deon Thompson and Alex Stepheson.
So here is a look at the new rankings.