After an exhilarating last month or so to the season, Carolina fans have already received more good news with Armando Bacot, Leaky Black, and R.J. Davis all officially announcing their returns to Chapel Hill. All eyes are now on the decision of Caleb Love, who would surely make the Heels one of, if not THE team to beat next season were he to come back. Regardless, Hubert Davis will have himself a very promising roster with an incredible balance of talent and experience. With that, let’s look at where people are slotting UNC in terms of early preseason rankings for the 2022-2023 season:
CBS Sports: 2nd
Sports Illustrated: 8th
Bleacher Report: 7th
It should be noted that many of these rankings haven’t been updated to account for some of the most recent impactful decisions being made across college basketball. On top of that, there’s obviously still plenty of time before next season gets underway, and a lot of things can (and will) change before then. That said, Carolina is ahead of the pack in terms of roster clarity and knowing what to expect. Thus, I don’t foresee the Heels’ ranking fluctuating a whole lot between now and October when the first AP poll is released.
It’s also worth noting that the most updated rankings of the ones listed are Gary Parrish’ Top 25 And 1, which have the Heels at number two. Regardless, Carolina appears to be a consensus top 10 team and again, I don’t expect that part to change.
Some of the other teams towards the top include UCLA, Kentucky, Houston, and Arkansas. The Bruins just received news that Johnny Juzang will depart for the NBA draft, but Jaime Jaquez is back and Tyger Campbell could return to join a top ten recruiting class headlined by Amari Bailey. Oscar Tshiebwe’s decision to stay in Lexington means the Wildcats will once again be a force in the SEC. Houston figures to have the core of its elite backcourt back along with a top ten forward in Jarace Walker. Arkansas returns Jaylin Williams and the majority of its production from this past season to pair with a trio of five-star recruits.
Contrary to most other highly rated teams, Carolina doesn’t figure to be depending too heavily on its incoming recruiting class. That’s not to say Seth Trimble and Jalen Washington won’t be immediate contributors, but if Love returns it will be difficult for either, especially Trimble, to carve out a truly significant role. The flip side of that is the Heels will be one of the more experienced teams in the country and should have a deeper bench. I think it’s fair to say that regardless of the Love decision or any other potential roster shifts, your 2022-2023 North Carolina Tar Heels will be national contenders once again.