#3 1997 vs #6 1992
Starters and Bench
|Shammond Williams||PG||Derrick Phelps
|Vince Carter||SG||Hubert Davis
This is a case of teams the year before they became real powerhouses though in 1997's case that team actually went to the Final Four. That didn't come without a bumpy ride first with the 1997 Tar Heels starting ACC play 0-3 before righting the ship, sweeping the back half of the league round-robin schedule, winning the ACC Tournament and rolling to the Final Four. Along the way, Dean Smith became the all-time winningest coach in college basketball and the season ended as it began with a loss to Arizona.
The 1992 team's season didn't include as deep an NCAA Tournament run and the Tar Heels ended up losing ten games that season. The highlight of the season was beating #1 Duke and handing the Blue Devils one of the eventual national champions' two losses for the year. That game in Chapel Hill is also known as the "Bloody Montross" game giving us the iconic image of Eric Montross taking a free throw with blood steaming down his cheek from a cut under his eye.
So what happens in a match-up between these two teams? It's really not all that clear. While 1997 has more overall success at the end of the day, the personnel match-ups don't indicate a massive advantage. 1992 is a much deeper team, has a legitimate three point threat in Hubert Davis, a defender in George Lynch who can probably bother Antawn Jamison and an edge with Montross versus Serge Zwikker. Derrick Phelps defense at the point is always a headline while Ademola Okulaja versus Brian Reese is probably an even proposition. The wildcard is Vince Carter who Davis likely can't check and brings an athleticism only Reese really can come close matching.
While the vote will probably go for 1997, there is a case to be made for an upset here.