Where do UNC men fall in 11 way-too-early Top 25 rankings?

By R.L. Bynum

Even though the transfer portal is packed with players, rosters are still shuffling and the makeup of teams is still uncertain, that hasn’t stopped many outlets from coming out with way-too-early Top 25 men’s basketball rankings.

Carolina falls about where you would expect in many of those lists.

In 11 lists that have come out this week, the Tar Heels are highest at No. 16 in SI.com’s list and as low as No. 25 from Field of 68. Depending on how Coach Hubert Davis finalizes his reshaped roster, the Tar Heels could be higher once the AP releases its preseason poll.

In giving the Tar Heels a top 16 standing, Kevin Sweeney on SI.com says:

“This is a prove-it year for Hubert Davis and the Tar Heels after a disastrous campaign. But with Armando Bacot and RJ Davis already announcing their returns to Chapel Hill, the nucleus here is still incredibly talented. A major priority for the Heels this offseason needs to be adding shooting after three-point woes plagued them this season. Talented youngsters like sophomores Jalen Washington and Seth Trimble along with freshman Simeon Wilcher also need to contribute.”

SI.com has Marquette No. 1, Duke No. 2 and Miami No. 11.

The next-highest ranking is from The Athletic, which puts the Tar Heels No. 18. Here is Seth Davis’ blurb about UNC for The Athletic:

“This program is badly in need of a reset, but Bacot’s announcement that he is returning for a fifth year is a good start. Love had some incredible moments during the 2022 NCAA tournament, but he has entered the transfer portal, and the change should be good for both him and North Carolina. ([Puff] Johnson is also in the portal.) Washington and Trimble showed glimpses of potential last season, but coach Hubert Davis never saw fit to give them heavy minutes. Wilcher and [Zayden] High are ranked No. 29 and 54, respectively, in the 247Sports Composite, but Davis will need add several more players from the transfer portal.”

The Athletic puts Marquette No. 1, Miami No. 4 and Duke No. 10.

ESPN has Carolina No. 19 in its ranking, compiled by Jeff Borzello. He says of the Tar Heels:

“Will the Tar Heels be able to put the most disappointing season in college basketball behind them? With R.J. Davis and Armando Bacot back in Chapel Hill, there are at least two terrific pieces to build around. Seth Trimble and Jalen Washington are two of the few reserves who didn’t enter the portal, but both are talented. Simeon Wilcher can make an impact as a freshman, too.”

Borzello has UConn No. 1, Duke No. 3 and Miami No. 14.

Fox puts UNC at No. 20 in its rankings, which John Fanta put together. His summary of the Tar Heels:

“Armando Bacot and RJ Davis returning to Chapel Hill is big news for Hubert Davis entering Year 3, and Caleb Love’s transfer out of the program is best for both sides. How good will UNC be? That’s TBD, but to have two guys as talented as that pair in the fold and other young talent looking to make the most of a new opportunity means a lead can be turned for this program from a highly disappointing year. I expect a bounce-back for the Heels.”

Duke is Fanta’s No. 1 team, with Miami No. 11.

Carolina is No. 21 in the list put out by Heat Check and in Bart Torvik’s T-Rank projections for next season.

In the Heat Check ranking, done by Eli Boettger, he has UConn No. 1, Duke No. 3 and Miami No. 12, and says of UNC:

“Don’t call it a comeback! Or, fine, call it a comeback. Either way, expect the Heels to be relevant next year — this time, for the right reasons. UNC got a huge boost from the announced returns of Armando Bacot and RJ Davis, giving them potentially two All-Americans right off the bat. The departures of players like Caleb Love and Leaky Black will cause some heartache in Chapel Hill, but the offensive efficiency may improve as a result. Plus, the arrivals of freshmen Simeon Wilcher (No. 29 in 247 Sports composite) and Zayden High (No. 54) should help smooth things over. Seth Trimble and D’Marco Dunn will have more of a chance to shine. The Heels have already added former Brown standout Paxson Wojcik, and they may not be done in the portal.”

Torvik’s projections have UConn No. 1, Duke No. 5 and Miami No. 16.

In the ranking that Mike DeCourcy produced for The Sporting News, UNC is No. 22. He only wrote blurbs for his top 10 teams, and has UConn No. 1, Duke No. 3, Miami No. 14 and Virginia No. 19.

Carolina comes in at No. 23 on the lists put out by Stadium and 247Sports.

Jeff Goodman put together Stadium’s list — which has Marquette No. 1, Duke No. 2, Miami No. 11 —and he says of UNC:

“Armando Bacot and RJ Davis are back, and those are the two guys I’d want to build around if I am Hubert Davis. Seth Trimble and Jalen Washington should both make a jump as sophomores, and the Tar Heels will do some work in the portal.”

Kevin Flaherty did the 247Sports list, which has Duke No. 1 and Miami No. 8, and wrote about Carolina:

“With R.J. Davis and Armando Bacot coming back and Caleb Love moving on, the Tar Heels may be a bit more balanced this season. Spacing around those two will once again be key; North Carolina could be among the nation’s most important teams to watch in the transfer portal.”

Field of 68, which didn’t go into detail about its list, has UConn No. 1, Duke No. 4 and Miami No. 9.

UNC roster

Here is a rundown of the Tar Heels’ scholarship players from the just-completed season, with their class should they return next season listed. UNC has three available scholarships.

4Sr.RJ DavisPG6–0175
0Soph.Seth TrimblePG6–3192
13Soph.Jalen Washington46–10225
55th yearArmando Bacot56–11235
Incoming transfers
5th yearCormac Ryan (Notre Dame)36–5195
5th yearPaxton Wojcik (Brown)36–5200
JuniorHarrison Ingram (Stanford)36–7230
SeniorJae’Lyn Withers (Louisville)46–9220
ESPN rankIncoming freshmen
10 (Class
of 2024)
Elliot Cadeau (5 star)PG6–0175
64 (Class
of 2023
Zayden High (4 star)46–9225
Eligibility over
Leaky Black36–9205
Pete Nance46–11230
Outgoing transfers
Caleb Love (Arizona)26–4200
Dontrez Styles (Georgetown)46–6210
Tyler Nickel (Va. Tech)36–7220
Justin McKoy (Hawaii)46–8220
Puff Johnson (Penn State)36–8200
Will Shaver (UAB)56–10260
In transfer portal
D’Marco Dunn36–5190
ESPN rank2024–25 freshman class
5Ian Jackson (5 star)26–5180
37Drake Powell (4 star)36–5185
48James Brown (4 star)56–9225

Photo via @UNC_Basketball


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