UNC Basketball: Where Tar Heels land in ESPN’s Way Too Early Top 25

We take a look at where ESPN ranks the UNC Basketball program for the 2020-21 college basketball season in their way too early rankings

With the 2019-20 college basketball season coming to an abrupt end just a few weeks back, it’s never too early to take a look ahead at next season. Despite it being months away from November and the official start of 2020-21 any news about next season is welcomed.

Typically we see the “way too early” lists for next season right after the national championship in April but with these circumstances, publications are starting to release theirs now. On Sunday, we showed you where UNC ranked in the NBC Sports “Way Too Early” Top 25 and now it’s ESPN’s turn.

The publication released their list over the weekend and just like NBC Sports, Villanova takes the top spot in the rankings as they are projected to bring back the majority of their roster. Behind the Wildcats are No 2. Creighton, No. 3 Gonzaga, No. 4 Baylor and No. 5 Kentucky, all teams that found success last season before the year ended.

But for the Tar Heels, they struggled last year and were set to miss the NCAA Tournament before it was cancelled. Going into next year, UNC will return some key players such as Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot, Leaky Black ,and  Jeremiah Francis while also welcoming in a Top 3 recruiting class. They will also lose Brandon Robinson to graduation and likely Cole Anthony to the 2020 NBA Draft. There will be some new faces on the team but brighter days are ahead.

ESPN thinks so as well as they have the Tar Heels ranked just outside of the Top 10 at No. 11 in their rankings. Here is what ESPN’s Jeff Borzello has to say about the Tar Heels for next season:

I know, I know. The Tar Heels were a preseason top-10 team heading into the season and ended up as the most disappointing group in the country, finishing with the last seed in the ACC tournament. But next season’s North Carolina team is going to be significantly deeper and more talented, even with the expected departure of Cole Anthony. Roy Williams brings in one of the nation’s best recruiting classes, led by five-star guard Caleb Love and five-star bigs Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler. The Tar Heels will have a dominant interior, as Sharpe and Kessler join returning starters Armando Bacot and Garrison Brooks. Love might be the best freshman point guard in the country. Wing scoring could be a question mark, but there are enough options on the roster — if everyone stays healthy, something that didn’t happen this season.

A lot of people are high on North Carolina next season with the main point being their recruiting class that Williams has landed. The Tar Heels will reload and bring in five player that can score the ball efficiently.

There are some concerns on the wing as they don’t have a true “3” on their roster. UNC is still in the running for five-star wing Ziaire Williams, who would fit that need, but they are considered a long shot to land him.

A lot can happen between now and the start of the season, just over 220 days away, but UNC should be a lot better next season. We hope.

Next: UNC Basketball projected 2020-21 starting lineup

For more on the UNC Basketball program, please check back with Keeping It Heel.

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