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UNC Basketball: Heels come in at #17 in Bleacher Report’s Way-Too-Early Top 25

Expectations remain relatively high heading into Hubert Davis’ first season as head coach.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Wisconsin at North Carolina Joshua Bickel-USA TODAY Sports

We’re still only about three weeks removed from the end of the season and this has easily been the most eventful offseason in recent memory for UNC basketball. It started with a “the sky is falling” narrative that formed from rumors of numerous transfers shortly after the Tar Heels’ loss to Wisconsin. That notion was seemingly overblown when Caleb Love announced his decision to return to Chapel Hill. However, five days after that is when the three-time national champion Roy Williams dropped the bombshell on everyone that he would be retiring.

Of course, four days after that, Hubert Davis was hired as the next Carolina men’s basketball head coach. In his introductory press conference, the passion and dedication Davis expressed for restoring UNC hoops as well as his promise to convince Walker Kessler to come back to Chapel Hill have generated lots of optimism around the program.

On Thursday, Bleacher Report released its Way-Too-Early Top 25 for the 2021-2022 college basketball season. Despite a coaching change and lots of uncertainty still regarding the roster outlook for next year, the Heels slotted in at #17.

At the time of this writing, we’re still awaiting an official decision from Kessler. However, Davis did manage to make his first recruiting haul by landing Virginia transfer Justin McKoy who figures to be a natural fit in the UNC system. Neither of these players’ pending decisions were factored into the rankings and while the addition of McKoy might not change much, one would have to think the Tar Heels preseason position will look a bit different if they’re able to get both of these guys.

What we do know right now is that Caleb Love will once again be leading the offense, joined by fellow sophomores Kerwin Walton and R.J. Davis in the backcourt. That could be a deadly shooting trio if things fall into place. There should be no shortage of guards/wings with Leaky Black, Anthony Harris, and Puff Johnson all set to return as well as incoming four-star freshmen D’Marco Dunn and Dontrez Styles. If Armando Bacot ultimately makes the decision to pull his name out of the draft and come back to Chapel Hill for his junior year, the Heels will at the very least have a solid core that’s capable of winning ball games.

Here’s what the rest of the rankings look like:

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (245 votes)

2. UCLA Bruins (227)

3. Michigan Wolverines (198)

4. Duke Blue Devils (193)

5. Ohio State Buckeyes (192)

6. Purdue Boilermakers (187)

7. Alabama Crimson Tide (172)

8. Kansas Jayhawks (166)

9. Baylor Bears (162)

10. Villanova Wildcats (149)

11. Florida State Seminoles (146)

12. Maryland Terrapins (131)

13. Houston Cougars (117)

14. Kentucky Wildcats (110)

15. Arkansas Razorbacks (91)

16. Michigan State Spartans (82)

17. North Carolina Tar Heels (63)

18. St. Bonaventure Bonnies (61)

19. Connecticut Huskies (58)

20. West Virginia Mountaineers (57)

T-21. Oregon Ducks (54)

T-21. Illinois Fighting Illini (54)

T-21. Virginia Cavaliers (54)

24. Arizona Wildcats (45)

25. Syracuse Orange (38)