CBB Summer Buzz: North Carolina
A roster rich in talent makes the Tar Heels a favorite to reach the Final Four
Insider knows you're hot for hoops during the summer, so we're bringing you a closer look at a few of the high-profile programs before most freshmen have even moved into their dorms. We continue with North Carolina Monday.
North Carolina Tar Heels
2010-11: 29-8, (NCAA tournament - Elite Eight)
"It's a great day to be a Tar Heel."
The Carolina-faithful mantra usually rings true come spring, but this season, UNC fans are poised for a yearlong lovefest. Not only do the Heels return all five starters from last year's Elite Eight squad, but they also bring in the country's No. 4 recruiting class to bolster their experienced vets.
The 2010-11 season was a little rough for the highly-touted Heels and top frosh Harrison Barnes. After missing out on a 2009 tourney bid and losing two of its first three preseason games in Puerto Rico, Carolina slid from a preseason top-five standing all the way off the charts in the fall. Just as quickly, Barnes went from "the next big thing" to "the next big bust," and Roy's Boys stumbled into the new year with four losses.
Luckily, the conference season righted most wrongs. Barnes scored 40 points in the ACC tourney against Clemson and was the league's rookie of the year. Fellow frosh Kendall Marshall secured starting point guard duties just before Larry Drew II abruptly left Chapel Hill in January. Junior forward Tyler Zeller finally managed to stay healthy for a season and put up career numbers (15.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg). And sophomore John Henson was a monster on defense (10.1 rpg, 3.2 bpg). Things looked promising for the once-disappointing squad before the Heels ran into a boiling-hot Kentucky team in the Elite Eight.
But Carolina fans were under the impression the success couldn't last. Barnes, Zeller and Henson were on every analyst's lottery list. It seemed likely that at least one of the three would turn pro. But be it by luck, chance or fate, the three opted for another year in Chapel Hill. Now the returning talent will be joined by a number of stellar freshmen. The riches here? Embarrassing. And the national championship may be Carolina's to lose.
To read the rest of North Carolina's summer preview, including sneak peaks at some of UNC's best incoming freshmen, you must be an ESPN Insider.
MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- NCAA files intent to appeal O'Bannon decision
- UConn agrees to play Arizona, Ohio State
- Beavers' Baker in ICU; required defibrillator
- Lawsuit: Tulsa failed to protect woman from player
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
COLLEGE BASKETBALL SUMMER BUZZ
Insider knows you're hot for hoops during the summer, so we're bringing you a closer look at 25 of the most intriguing college programs before school's even in session.
All in one place
A collection of all the Buzz to date.
The post-Kemba era begins
Is this the year Pitt breaks through?
Jardine, Joseph look to lead 'Cuse
St. John's Red Storm
Massive turnover defines Lavin's crew
Cards have talent to fill holes
North Carolina Tar Heels
Tar Heels prep for title run
Duke Blue Devils
Blue Devils face point-ed questions
Michigan State Spartans
Another tough schedule awaits Tom Izzo's crew
Ohio State Buckeyes
Sullinger rekindles title hopes in Columbus
Postseason hopes reborn in Bloomington
Freshmen, vets form potent combo
'Dores seek NCAA tourney breakthrough
The Mike Anderson Era begins
Vols face long, tough rebuilding path
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Bulldogs need Sidney to stay on the court
Frontcourt will have to carry load for Bruins
Talented Wildcats need a new star to emerge
How does Kansas replace the Morris twins?
Perry Jones should blossom for Baylor
Freshmen must lead Longhorns
Can Butler do it again?
Rice, MWC movement will aid Rebels
Tu Holloway's moment is here
George Mason Patriots
Pearson should flourish under Hewitt
Can Rams run deep again?