The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday May 19th

Column: Power ranking UNC's six men's basketball national championship teams

<p>Michael Jordan helps cut down the nets after the 1982 NCAA National Championship. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications.</p>
Buy Photos

Michael Jordan helps cut down the nets after the 1982 NCAA National Championship. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications.

It’s tough to compare athletes and teams from different eras. It's difficult to compare LeBron James’ success to Michael Jordan's and even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's. They played against different types of competition.

The same could be said for UNC’s basketball national championships. The program's six NCAA-recognized titles span across 60 years of basketball history.

The play style and level of competition are obviously going to differ from title to title, but here’s my stab at power ranking UNC’s six national championships:

1. 2009

The 2009 Tar Heels went 34-4, won the ACC regular season title and had one of the most dominant runs through the NCAA Tournament in history.

Roy Williams had five players who averaged double figures and one of the best players in the country that year in Tyler Hansbrough. The most impressive feat this team accomplished was its run through the NCAA Tournament.

The 2009 Tar Heels came into the tournament as the No. 1 seed in the South region and didn’t play a single close game. The smallest margin of victory in the tournament was a 72-60 win over No. 2 seed Oklahoma in the Elite Eight.

UNC would go on to cap off the most impressive season in the program’s history with double-digit wins against Villanova and Michigan State in the Final Four and national championship.

2. 2005

The 2005 UNC team vs. the 2009 team: who would win? A question that racks every UNC fan’s brain.

They are the only two North Carolina titles from the same basketball era, so they are the easiest to compare. They also just so happen to be UNC’s two most impressive national championship-winning teams.

In my mind, it would be a toss-up if the 2005 roster matched up against the 2009 roster. The former also boasted five players averaging double figures and a dominant inside presence with Sean May. However, it just didn’t have the dominant NCAA Tournament run that the 2009 team did. 

In 2005, No. 1 seed UNC had multiple close calls, including a one-point win over No. 5 seed Villanova in the Sweet 16. These nail-biters are the only thing keeping this team away from the No. 1 spot.

3. 1957

The only undefeated national championship in UNC’s history, 32-0. Led by the legendary Lennie Rosenbluth, the 1957 Tar Heel team was the best team in the country all season long and proved it in the NCAA Tournament.

Rosenbluth averaged a remarkable 28 points per game that season, but the most interesting aspects of the team’s run were the Final Four and national championship game. The games against Michigan State and Kansas both went to triple overtime. 

While the 1957 team played in a different era of basketball, it has to be at No. 3 because it didn’t lose a single game.

4. 1982

James Worthy, Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins. Enough said.

Three of the greatest players in UNC history should have this team much higher on this list but the team wasn't as deep as the others on this list. And let’s be honest, after watching the CBS rerun of the 1982 title game, the Tar Heels should not have won that game.

5. 1993

Looking back, the 1993 team just didn’t really have the star power of other title squads, with Eric Montross and George Lynch being the biggest names. It had multiple close calls in the tournament, too. And without Chris Webber's famous errant timeout in the final minute, would the Tar Heels have been able to hold on and win?

6. 2017

UNC’s most recent national championship checks in at No. 6. This team was by far the greatest story of any, but was, in my opinion, the least impressive on the court.

The Tar Heels earned redemption, but their seven losses were the most of any championship team, and it took multiple tight wins in the NCAA Tournament to get the job done.


@DTHSports |

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.


The Daily Tar Heel Victory Paper for March 7, 2022

Special Print Edition

Games & Horoscopes

Print Edition Games Archive