By Heather Compton – @HeatherLCompton
It is important for the Carolina basketball team to block out the noise and focus on each individual game but as a Tar Heel fan, it’s hard to not be excited for the 2022-23 men’s basketball season. Especially after hearing the hype around this team from outside of the fanbase, it’s easy to think this might really be a third “redemption year.” From the Way-Too-Early rankings, CBS Candid Coaches series, College Hoops Today Preseason All-Americans announcements, and even Dick Vitale, it’s nothing but good news for UNC fans.
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After moving up from a five ranking in the polls following the 2022 Tournament, Carolina continues to dominate the Way-Too-Early rankings released again in late August with the Tar Heels holding the number one spot over Gonzaga, Houston, Kentucky, and Duke respectively. After bringing on transfer Pete Nance, the Tar Heels have held fast to the number one spot in both ESPN and Sports Illustrated rankings.
The Tar Heels also took the number one spot in Chris Dortch’s Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook Preseason Top 25 poll released on September 1. Here Carolina beat out second ranked Gonzaga, third Kentucky, fourth Houston, and fifth Duke. While often Way-Too-Early rankings and polls fall short, this on top of all the other buzz about this year’s team is hard to ignore.
CBS Candid Coaches Series
Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander of CBS Sports interviewed around 100 head and assistant coaches at Division 1 schools anonymously on a variety of topics related to the 2022-23 men’s basketball season in their Candid Coaches Series.
The series kicked off at the end of last month with the question of who is most likely to win the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Carolina easily dominated here with 37% of the vote, followed by Houston with 28% and Gonzaga with 20%. Kentucky came in fourth with only 5% of the votes.
In the September 6 edition of the series, the coaches were asked, “Who will be the best player in college basketball this season?” Armando Bacot came in third here with 10.2% of the votes behind fly-away winner Drew Timme of Gonzaga with 43.9% and second place Oscar Tshiebwe of Kentucky. Not too shabby for the senior Tar Heel big man.
College Hoops Today All-American Teams
Jon Rothstein of CBS website hosts the podcast and website College Hoops Today. Earlier this month he released his preseason All-Americans Teams with the Tar Heels sweeping one-fifth of the slots of the three teams. And it should be noted that, not including honorable mentions (with Creighton having one Third Team player and one honorable mention), every other team represented came away with exactly one player on all three All-American teams.
It’s no surprise that Armando Bacot joined Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky), Drew Timme (Gonzaga), Hunter Dickinson (Michigan), and Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana) on the First Team with Rothstein naming him as a potential National Player of the Year candidate.
Also, not a shocker, Caleb Love was named to the Second Team and RJ Davis rounded out the Carolina sweep by making Third Team.
On September 13, even Dick Vitale joined in the Tar Heel hype tweeting:
As the days tick by until the return of college basketball, it’s clear it’s not just Carolina fans who are enthusiastic about this year’s team. The return of four of the “Iron Five”, the addition of Pete Nance, the development of Puff Johnson, and the introduction of some potentially very talented freshmen continue to drive the Tar Heels ahead in all pre-season excitement.
Follow Heather Compton on Twitter at @HeatherLCompton
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