9. North Carolina (9-3)
Things have not broken North Carolina’s way much in the last two seasons, ignoring of course their wild run to the national title game the season prior. Last year was disaster but the Tar Heels, still led by Armando Bacot and RJ Davis, are working to put that disaster in the rearview mirror. They picked up three losses during a tough and challenging nonconference slate but have finally reached ACC play with high hopes again.
On Friday, North Carolina hosted Charleston Southern; their first (and final) game against a non-power conference opponent in over a month. They made quick work of the Buccaneers, securing a 105-60 win with a dominant offensive performance. Davis had 20 points and 10 assists, Jalen Washington had 17 points and 7 rebounds off the bench, and Bacot put up 12 points and 9 rebounds of his own.
Wins over Tennessee and Oklahoma still look fantastic, with the Tar Heels still licking their wounds from tough losses to Villanova, Connecticut, and Kentucky during nonconference play. This team was certainly challenged and is undoubtedly ready for an ACC slate full of winnable contests. North Carolina has the ability to win this league but get a major challenge right out of the gates, with road contests at Pittsburgh and Clemson this week.