UNC Basketball: Tar Heels top CBS Sports’ “Candid Coaches Series”

Mar 27, 2022; Philadelphia, PA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Hubert Davis cuts down the net after the Tar Heels defeated the St. Peters Peacocks in the finals of the East regional of the men's college basketball NCAA Tournament at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 27, 2022; Philadelphia, PA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Hubert Davis cuts down the net after the Tar Heels defeated the St. Peters Peacocks in the finals of the East regional of the men's college basketball NCAA Tournament at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

UNC Basketball leads a list of 12 teams selected by a group of ~100 anonymous coaches as the most likely to win the 2023 National Championship. 

Every fall, leading up to the college basketball season, CBS Sports college basketball writers and Eye on College Basketball podcast hosting duo Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander conduct a “Candid Coaches Series”. The premise is that they ask coaches about various topics concerning college basketball for the upcoming season. The catch is that in exchange for brutal honesty in their answers, the coaches are offered anonymity.

The answers are revealed one at a time over the course of a few weeks.

Here’s the setup directly from one of the articles:

"“CBS Sports college basketball writers Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander surveyed roughly 100 coaches for our annual Candid Coaches series. They polled everyone from head coaches at elite programs to assistants at some of the smallest Division I schools. In exchange for complete anonymity, the coaches provided unfiltered honesty about a number of topics. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting the results of the questions asked.”"

The first question released this fall is simply “who is the most likely [team] to win the 2023 NCAA Tournament?” To be fair, there’s a bit of ambiguity to exactly the desired response to the question because the title of the article is “Which college basketball team will be the best in the country in the 2022-23 season?”

The answer to these two questions is not always one in the same.

Regardless of the potential vagueness of the different questions, coaches were asked to give just one answer to the question.

Before revealing the responses, here are a few things to be aware of:

  • No school got at least 40% of the ~100 votes
  • One school received nearly 40 and was the only team to receive at least 30% of the votes
  • 12 total received at least one vote
  • Based on the percentages, there’s a clear top three and then everyone else
  • One of the top three teams may surprise you (either the team itself or the order of the top three)

As a reminder, these answers are directly from coaches (both head and assistant coaches from different levels of the sport).

Here are the 12 schools that received votes, in order from lowest to highest percentage of the vote:

  • 1% of the vote (6 schools): Creighton, Duke, Kansas, Tennessee, UCLA, UVA
  • 2% (2 schools): Arkansas, Baylor
  • 5% (1 school): Kentucky
  • 20% (1 school): Gonzaga
  • 28% (1 school): Houston
  • 37% (1 school) North Carolina


  • Once again, as you can see, there is a clear line of demarcation between UNC, Houston, and Gonzaga, and the rest of the 12
  • Carolina is the favorite, but not by any sort of overwhelming majority
  • Before seeing the tally, I would have posited that North Carolina and Gonzaga would have been one and two in some order
  • I personally am higher on Gonzaga than Houston, however, remember that respondents were only able to pick one school, so there are more coaches that believe in Houston over Gonzaga in terms of winning the NCAA Tournament.
  • If I were choosing a top five, Kentucky and Baylor would round it out.
  • I would take Kentucky over Houston in the top three.
  • The betting markets disagree with me – Houston and Gonzaga are co-favorites to win the national championship.
  • Kansas gets a vote purely based on Bill Self – the roster itself doesn’t warrant it.
  • Duke shouldn’t be getting a vote either. It’s another extremely young team that will, yes, win a lot of games, make no mistake about it. But they don’t have enough returning veteran presence to be national champion caliber.
  • Virginia will be BETTER this year, but not national-championship-contender better – HOWEVER – give me the Cavaliers for 2nd in the ACC behind UNC this season, beating out Duke. And yes Kihei Clarke IS STILL PLAYING for Tony Bennett; this is his fifth year.

The article contained a few quotes about the 2022-23 Tar Heels. The two that stood out:

"“Their returning core gives them an edge over the other teams in my mind. I also think that the addition of Pete Nance and the continued development of Puff (Johnson) will help them. One of the freshmen, Tyler Nickel, is an absolute monster and could make a difference this year as well.”"

I agree that Puff’s development and the addition of Pete Nance are huge for this team. I disagree, however, about Nickel having that level of influence this year. He’s going to have his moments and will provide great offense off the bench, but his defense will keep him off the floor and from being an “absolute monster”.

"“I was so impressed at how Hubert Davis stuck to his coaching roots but was also willing to adjust and adapt to his personnel by playing outside the ‘Carolina System’ that had been so successful for decades. They bring back and have added all the pieces needed to replicate their run from last March. Brady Manek was such an offensive threat and will be tough to replace, but I have no doubt Hubert will learn quickly how this team can be more dangerous.”"

This quote is right on target, in my opinion. People all over the country are underestimating the loss of Brady Manek and incorrectly assuming that Pete Nance will be a Plug’n’Play replacement. Make no mistake, Nance will be very good but will play a different game than Manek did last season.

But, as the quote also says, Coach Davis is going to figure this thing out.

Make sure to share your thoughts with us about the 12 teams chosen in the Candid Coaches series question!

Locked On Tar Heels host Isaac Schade discusses this topic in the last segment of this episode of Locked On Tar Heels:

Next. Bacot voted as third-best player in college basketball. dark

Follow us @KeepingItHeel on Twitter and like our fan page on Facebook for continued coverage of UNC basketball news, views, and updates.