UNC History: Blast From The Past – The Top 20 UNC Basketball Teams of All-Time (12 through 9)


12) UNC 1981 –

When people talk about the greatest teams in the history of North Carolina basketball, the 1981 Tar Heels are never mentioned. This team had the same starting lineup as the 1982 national championship team (Jimmy Black, Matt Doherty, James Worthy, Sam Perkins), with the exception of Michael Jordan. Al Wood was the starting shooting guard as a senior.

Al Wood was a second team all-American during this season. He had a 56% career shooting percentage during his four years at Carolina. In the 1981 title, Carolina ran into an arch-nemesis, the Indiana Hoosiers. The Hoosiers, coached by the legendary coach Bobby Knight, were led by future NBA hall-of-famer Isiah Thomas. Indiana beat Carolina 63-50. Thomas was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1981 Final Four. This Final Four was the last time that a national third place game was played (where the losing teams in the Final Four’s national semifinal games played each other). North Carolina was swept by Wake Forest and Virginia during the regular season. Despite losing these games, Carolina beat Wake Forest in the semifinals of the 1981 ACC Tournament. In addition, UNC beat Virginia in the semifinals of the 1981 Final Four. Carolina finished the season with a 29-8 record.

11) UNC 1969 – The University of North Carolina went to three consecutive Final Fours in 1967, 1968, and 1969. This team was led by the senior starter, Charles Scott. Charles Scott was UNC’s first Black scholarship athlete. He averaged 27.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in 1969. Scott’s 1969 was honored as a second team all-American during this season. Scott was passed over as the 1969 ACC Player of the Year by John Roche, a guard for the South Carolina Gamecocks. Other notable players on Carolina’s roster included Dick Grubar, Eddie Fogler, Bill Bunting, and Rusty Clark. One of the highlights of this season was when Charles Scott scored 32 points against Davidson in the Elite 8. In the 1969 Final Four, Purdue beat Carolina 92-67. Carolina also lost the national third place game to Drake University, 104-84. Carolina finished the 1969 season, 27-5.

10) UNC 1946 – This team was the first North Carolina team to reach a Final Four. Notable players on this roster included Bones McKinney and John “Hook” Dillon. McKinney spent his freshman and sophomore years at N.C. State. After spending time in the military for World War II, McKinney played one season at Carolina. Hook Dillon was an all-American in 1946. He was also the leading scorer on this team. Dillon received his nickname, because he had a deadly “hook” shot. After scoring 21 points in Madison Square Garden, the media gave John Dillon the nickname, “Hook.” During this season, the ACC did not have a Player of the Year award winner. The ACC Player of the Year award did not come into effect until the 1953-1954 season. In UNC lost to Oklahoma State in the national championship game, 43-40. North Carolina finished this season with a 30-5 record.

9) UNC 1998 – This team was phenomenal. Carolina was clearly the best team in the nation in 1998. This season was full of highlight reel dunks and alley-oops. The Tar Heels were led by Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Ed Cota, Ademola Okulaja, and Shammond Williams. First year head coach, Bill Gutheridge instituted a “starting six.” Makhtar N’Diaye was the sixth player who started several games throughout this season. Gutheridge would have one of the players mentioned above to come off the bench. In a game against the Duke Blue Devils at the Dean Dome, Jamison scored 35 points, but only touched the ball for 53 seconds. Jamison averaged 22.2 points and 10.5 rebounds a game this season. Antawn Jamison was the consensus National Player of the Year in 1998. In the 1998 Final Four, UNC lost to the Utah Utes. Utah was coached by the recently deceased Rick Majerus. The Utes were led by current NBA point guard, Andre Miller (Denver Nuggets). North Carolina finished the season with a 34-4 record. In the 1998 NBA Draft, Antawn Jamison was selected #4 overall by the Toronto Raptors. Vince Carter was selected #5 overall by the Golden State Warriors. Toronto and Golden State swapped each player on draft day in 1998.