- John Gasaway, ESPN Insider
This past April Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller announced they would return to North Carolina for another season. And pretty much from that moment on, the Tar Heels have been regarded as the favorites to win the 2012 national championship. Not that UNC won't have competition, naturally. Kentucky, for one, looks as if they'll be pretty tough. But there can be only one No. 1, and right now Dick Vitale, Andy Katz and a lot of other people agree the top ranking belongs to Roy Williams' team.
Of course, this isn't the first time Carolina has faced great expectations before the season has tipped off. Just three short years ago, a Tar Heels team led by Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson was ranked No. 1 (unanimously!) in both major preseason polls. Observers more or less took it for granted that the Heels would win the national championship that year. They did, winning all six of their NCAA tournament games by double-digits. The real question with that team was whether it would go undefeated, which it did not, as the Heels finished 34-4.
So in honor of UNC's return to preseason-favorite status, I've decided to give this year's Tar Heels some much needed competition: that 2009 North Carolina team. How do the two teams stack up? Who would win a hypothetical showdown between the two? According to the categories I hold most dear, here's how these two scary-good Carolina teams would match up against each other.