If there was ever any doubt that this is the best Tar Heels team Hubert Davis has coached at UNC, it was laid to rest Saturday night. Carolina played its best all-around game of the season, nearly going wire-to-wire to beat Duke 93-84 in front of a charged up Dean Dome crowd.
Will this team be equal or better than what the Heels did two years, ago, when they marched through the NCAA Tournament and nearly won a national championship? We won't know until everything plays out, but they don't call it March Madness for nothing. Anything can happen in a single-elimination tournament. What we do know is that this team has done what that one couldn't: play high-level basketball on a night-in, night-out basis.
It's easy to forget that the Caleb Love-led Heels that beat Duke in the Final Four were an 8-seed. Well into February, Carolina was squarely on the tournament bubble, but a win in the regular season finale at Cameron Indoor Stadium propelled them on an improbable storybook journey.
These Heels are different. Though they hiccuped on Tuesday night in losing by one at Georgia Tech, this team has shown an ability to defend, and to close out games, that a Hubert Davis-led team has never been able to demonstrate before, at least not at this level.
Carolina faced its toughest test of 2024 in welcoming Duke to Chapel Hill, and the Heels passed with flying colors. The Blue Devils have been playing good ball themselves, but there was never a point in the game where it seemed that the Tar Heels weren't in control. Here's what we learned from another edition of the greatest rivalry in sports.