March Madness: The 5 best UNC teams to never win a title

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UNC 1977

This Tar Heel squad was led by Phil Ford, Mike O’Koren, John Kuester, Dudley Bradley, Walter Davis, Tommy LaGarde, and Rich Yonakor.  Dudley Bradley was the defensive specialist on this team. His nickname was the “Secretary of Defense.” Tommy LaGarde was nominated to the second team all-ACC team, as well as being a second team all-American. He was also a two-time academic all-American.

Walter Davis, also known as “Sweet D,” was first team all-ACC, a member of the all-East Regional team, and a member of the all-Final Four team. Walter Davis is the uncle to UNC’s current assistant coach and former UNC basketball player, Hubert Davis. Phil Ford was a first-team all-American in 1977. He was the perfect guard for running Dean Smith’s infamous “Four Corner” offense. In 1978, Ford was the ACC Player of the Year and the John R. Wooden Award Winner. John Kuester was the Most Valuable Player of the 1977 ACC Tournament.

The Tar Heels were the regular season ACC Champions and Conference Tournament Champions in 1977. Carolina lost two close games to Wake Forest during this season. However, the Tar Heels managed to beat Wake Forest once.  The 1977 Final Four included UNLV, UNC-Charlotte, UNC, and Marquette. North Carolina lost to Marquette in the 1977 NCAA national championship, 67-59. Marquette’s Butch Lee was the 1977 Most Outstanding Player. This was one of the biggest heartbreaks in UNC basketball history. This would have been Dean Smith’s first national championship. Dean Smith was the head coach of the United States Olympic Basketball team in 1976. The 1970’s were very productive for Dean Smith. North Carolina finished the season with a 28-5 record.

Relive this upset here:

UNC 2008  

TyLawson /

Where should I begin with this team? Consensus National Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough aka “Psycho T” was the leader of this team. This was the year of Tyler. Everything he touched turned to gold, with the exception of a national title.

Tywon Lawson was the coach on the floor, and wings, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green, lit up any defense from the arc. Marcus Ginyard was the defensive stopper. Deon Thompson and Alex Stephesson were solid forwards who provided adequate rebounding and defense. Former starting point guard Bobby Frasor, became a role player who was known for his defense and outside shooting.

The 2008 team won the most games in one season (36) by any North Carolina Tar Heels team. This record is held by them presently. In addition, they won the 2008 ACC Tournament. North Carolina lost to Kansas, the 2008 NCAA National Champions, in the Final Four. Carolina finished the season with a 36-3 record. In the following season, UNC won the national championship after the core of the team decided to come back to Chapel Hill for another year.

The 2008 Carolina squad had the pleasure of playing pickup basketball with then-Senator Barack Obama. Now, the current POTUS, President Obama allegedly crossed-over a few Tar Heels. In the picture shown here, President Obama took Hansbrough to the hole. UNC head coach Roy Williams did not call the press on that day. Scores from the pickup games have never been shared.