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North Carolina Tarheels: When Thinking Tar Heel Basketball, Think Greatness

Deion McNairCorrespondent IJune 7, 2011

North Carolina Tarheels: When Thinking Tar Heel Basketball, Think Greatness

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    CHAPEL HILL, NC - MARCH 05:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates winning the ACC Regular Season Championship as they defeated the Duke Blue Devils 81-67 at the Dean E. Smith Center on March 5, 2011 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    When people think of Tar Heel basketball, they think of Michael Jordan. And while Jordan is the best basketball player to ever live, the tradition of the Tar Heels extends many years before and after him.

    Every year, UNC puts a talent-loaded team on display that is capable of beating anybody. A bad year for UNC is 10 or 11 losses. A horrible year may be only making it to the NIT.

    Our "bad" years end in results many college basketball programs would be content with.

    Here are a few things North Carolina is notorious for...

Recruiting

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    North Carolina annually brings in one of the top recruiting classes. Top high school players dream of putting on the baby blue and white jersey and playing in the Dean Smith Center. 

    Last year, we landed Harrison Barnes, the No. 1 rated high-schooler. Before he even played a game in the college ranks, Barnes was picked as a preseason All-American. That's an amazing honor for a college rookie.

    Heading into next season, North Carolina brings in the nation's fifth best recruiting class, headlined by P.J Hairston and James McAdoo.

Drawing Audiences

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    No matter who your favorite team is, loyal college basketball fans want to watch at least one North Carolina game every season.

    The Tar Heels always have one of the best teams in the country and are exciting to watch. One reason people want to watch them is to get a look at our players before they head to the NBA.

    Another reason is to try to size up our talent level in case their team has to face us later in the season or in the NCAA tournament.

    This year, North Carolina will play in two of the most anticipated games of the season. The first is against Michigan State on board a military aircraft carrier. It will be the first college basketball game of its kind.

    The second game will be the rematch of an epic elite eight game against Kentucky this season.

Dominating Tournament Play

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    North Carolina is second in NCAA history with 37 NCAA tournament appearances. They boast the third best win percentage in tournament history at 71 percent. Their all-time record is 88-36, and they have made the Final Four 17 times.

    From 1975-2001, UNC set an all-time record with 27 consecutive tournament trips.

    In the ACC tournament, North Carolina has 17 conference championships.

NBA Players

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    NEW YORK - JUNE 25:  NBA Commissioner David Stern poses for a photograph with the thirteenth overall draft pick by the Indiana Pacers,  Tyler Hansbrough during the 2009 NBA Draft at the Wamu Theatre at Madison Square Garden June 25, 2009 in New York City.
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    North Carolina, just like any other program, has its share of busts in the NBA, but is most known for their exceptional professionals. You don't have to look too far before you find someone in the NBA that attended UNC. As of opening day this season, North Carolina had 12 players on an NBA roster.

    I'm going to try to keep this short because the list goes on and on, but the list of old and current players includes:

    Raymond Felton

    Marvin Williams

    Tyler Hansbrough

    Rasheed Wallace

    Brendan Haywood (currently playing in the NBA finals)

    Antawn Jamison

    Vince Carter

    Sam Perkins

    Bob McAdoo

    James Worthy (Hall of Fame)

    Michael Jordan (Hall of Fame)

Household Names

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    22 Dec 2000:  Joseph Forte #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels dribbles the ball down the court during the game against the University California Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins at the Pauley Pavilian in Los Angeles, California.  The Tar Heels defeated the Brui
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    The exposure a player gets playing for North Carolina is almost unmatched in the NCAA.

    As far as college basketball goes, the Tar Heels are as known as any other program's players, no matter what time zone you live in.

    Our coaches are well known also. Dean Smith is considered one of the greatest basketball coaches ever, and our current coach Roy Williams is quickly climbing the ranks too.

    Williams came to North Carolina in 2003 with no championships. Since, he has won two (2005, 2009) and looks forward to adding a third next season. North Carolina enters next season as the preseason No. 1 team.

Protecting Homecourt

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    An opposing player's first time walking onto the court at the Dean Smith Center can be a chilling experience. All the talent, history and names up in the rafters can leave you in awe.

    Adding to your own mental dilemma is the screaming fans just a few feet behind your bench. Everywhere you look is a field of blue chanting, pumping up the basketball team.

    The first game in the Dean Dome was in 1986 against Duke in a battle of the unbeatens. North Carolina won 95-92.

    Carolina is 292-56 all-time in the building, an impressive 84 percent.

Winning Championships

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    WASHINGTON - MAY 11:  University of North Carolina Men's basketball head coach Roy Williams (L) presents U.S. President Barack Obama with a team jersey at the White House May 11, 2009 in Washington, DC. The North Carolina Tar Heels are the 2009 National C
    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    North Carolina has five national championships on its resume:

    1957: UNC 54- Kansas 53

    1982: UNC 63- Georgetown 62

    1993: UNC 77- Michigan 71

    2005: UNC 75- Illinois 70

    2009: UNC 89- Michigan State 72

    Bonus: Under Roy Williams, the Tar Heels have opened the season ranked No. 1 in the polls twice (2005-2009). Both seasons ended in championships.

    This year, UNC is No. 1 in the preseason polls again and clearly has the best team heading into next season. Expect another championship at the end of next season.

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