Another season has passed and now we try to figure out where the most recent Tar Heel team fits in the THB Countdown Rankings of the best UNC teams 1982 to present.
Record: 33-7, 14-4 in the ACC(1st) ACC Tournament: Won title NCAA Tournament: Lost in title game
Roster: Joel Berry, Nate Britt, Kanler Coker, Justin Coleman, Spenser Dalton, Tony Egbuna, Isaiah Hicks, Justin Jackson, Joel James, Brice Johnson, Luke Maye, Kennedy Meeks, Marcus Paige, Theo Pinson, Kenny Williams, Stillman White.
This is an interesting team to try and fit into the rankings especially since I am forced to decide whether this team should be docked spots because a shot went in at the buzzer. There is also the fact that this is the first UNC team in the scope of these rankings to lose in the national championship. The era we are dealing with here starts in 1982 and until this past season, UNC had won four straight championship games.
Then there is he fact this team was the most efficient offensive team in the KenPom era, won both the ACC Regular Season and Tournament titles then rolled through the NCAA Tournament collecting five double digit wins before falling to Villanova.
The counter argument is this doesn't appear to have been a team in possession of great talent. This was very much a group where the sum of the parts was more than the parts themselves. In that respect it's easier to give greater credit to teams that had more talented players.
Bearing all that in mind, this team feels very much like the 1991 team. Senior laden with a mix of younger talent. 1991 won the ACC Tournament but actually finished 2nd to Duke during the regular season. 1991 lost in the Final Four to Kansas which was a step below what 2016 did. That would put this squad at 11th. The question is can you reasonably supplant the 1997 team in 10th with 2016. I would argue that you probably can. The 1997 team gets the benefit of how we remember 1998. We tend to forget 1997 was 3-5 in ACC play before winning eight straight then the ACC Tournament. That team was really good the next season but in 1997 they had flaws.
2016 fits into the top ten even if it is barely. The more interesting discussion is this: If UNC gets to OT and wins, how far up does this team move? NCAA title automatically place them ahead of 2008, 1998, etc?