A few years ago I passed the summer by counting down the Tar Heel teams that I actually saw play. In other words I don't include anything prior to 1982 because I have zero recollection of seeing any of those teams on the court. At the conclusion of every season I update the standings to include the current one. This is a somewhat subjective look at these teams and certainly open for debate. Unlike previous seasons this one falls into place fairly easily.
Here is the range of teams I think 2012 fall into.
Off the top of my head I am inclined to slot 2012 ahead of 2011. We are basically talking about the same team but one year older with P.J. Hairston and James Michael McAdoo but without Justin Knox and Leslie McDonald. The question then arises as to whether you can, in good conscience, slide 2012 ahead of 2007 if you account for injuries to Dexter Strickland and Kendall Marshall. In doing the countdown last season I made the comparison between 2007 and 2011 and concluded 2007 still came out ahead. I am not sure that has changed much especially considering 2012 was 21st in offensive efficiency and 12th in defensive efficiency. The 2007 team was 3rd and 4th respectively. In fact the 2007 team could flat out play defense and the matchups would certainly favor 2007 though the freshmen versions of Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington were not the same players we ultimately remember them to be. 2007 was a deep team and had multiple perimeter weapons making them a more balance squad.
In the end, the 2012 team needed to stay injury free and get to the Final Four for me to consider moving them up. If you want to play the "what if" game and put this team in the Final Four with a healthy Kendall Marshall then chances are I move them ahead of 1991 but probably behind 1997. What makes that interesting is if you look at the difference between 2007 and 2008 vs 2011 and 2012 you clearly see a huge jump from one season to the next. Some of that had to do with more veteran players being in the mix 2008 team but the truth of the matter is 2011 was pretty close to the ceiling for that group as it was. There was still room for the 2012 team to improve and win a national title however injuries destroyed any margin of error that team had. In reality the biggest "what if" of this group is not 2012 but 2011. What if UNC had gotten past a Kentucky(it had beaten once that season) in the 2011 East Regional Final? Could that team had beaten UConn and Butler to steal a title the way Duke did in 2010?
Here are the updated rankings.