Another sign that the college basketball season is upon is the annual preseason AP poll, which was released earlier today. Last year, the Tar Heels found themselves preseason ranked #1 number one in the country, expecting to win both ACC and national championships. As you know by now, neither happened, as Carolina mustered just a 20-13 mark, missing the NCAA Tournament altogether, the first team to do so after being preseason ranked #1 since the tournament expanded in 1985.
This year, Carolina finds itself once again ranked in the preseason poll, but nowhere near the top of the rankings, as they will start the season as the 19th-ranked team in the country, a rather respectable starting position, after last season’s failures. Carolina returns leading scorers in Armando Bacot and R.J. Davis, who could be All-ACC and even All-American players in 2023-24. Those veterans headline a roster that was overturned seeing seven players exit the program via the transfer portal. At the same time, Hubert Davis brought in five transfers of his own, including Harrison Ingram, Cormac Ryan, and Paxson Wojcik. Furthermore, Carolina’s roster got a boost when 2024 five-star point guard, Elliot Cadeau reclassified to join the program this season, giving Carolina a true floor general.
When you look at the preseason poll, you’ll see a lot of opponents on the Tar Heels schedule for the upcoming season, as Davis put together arguably the hardest non-conference slate in the country, combined with playing 20 ACC games. Of teams ranked inside the top 10, UNC will play three of them, including #2 Duke (twice), defending national champions UConn (6th), and Tennessee (9th) in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge. While Carolina won’t face FAU in the regular season, they will face the Owls in a preseason scrimmage, a year after they made it to the Final Four, and will start the season, ranked 10th. Additionally, Carolina will play Miami (13th), Kentucky (17th), and potentially Villanova (22nd) in the regular season.
The Tar Heels will host St. Augustine on Friday, October 27th in an exhibition ahead of the season opener on November 6th against Radford.
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