Armando Bacot, North Carolina Tar Heels, ACC Basketball

After making it all the way to the National Championship game in his first season as North Carolina Tar Heels head coach, Hubert Davis has another contender in Chapel Hill.


CBB Review is once again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the 2022-23 season. Each day we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Coming in ranked number 2 are the North Carolina Tar Heels.

It might be a scary sight for opposing teams, especially the ACC. UNC brings back as experienced a starting lineup as any team in the country. They clicked when it mattered most last season, and that leads most people to believe the Heels are on the verge of a complete season from start to finish.

To those who have not, click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams in the 2022-23 college basketball season.

Head Coach: Hubert Davis (2nd season overall, both at North Carolina)

2021-22 Record: 29-10 (15-5)

2022 Postseason Finish: Lost in National Championship game

Notable Departures: Anthony Harris (Transfer/URI – pending academics), Brady Manek (Graduated), Dawson Garcia (Transfer/Minnesota), Kerwin Walton (Transfer/Texas Tech)

Projected Rotation

PG: RJ Davis (6-0, 175, Jr.)

2021-22 stats: 13.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.0 steals, 36.7 3P%

SG: Caleb Love (6-4, 200, Jr.)

2021-22 stats: 15.9 points, 3.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 36.0 3P%, 37.1 FG%

SF: Leaky Black (6-9, 205, Gr.-Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 4.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists

PF: Pete Nance (6-11, 230, Gr.-Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 14.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.1 blocks, 45.2 3P% (Northwestern)

C: Armando Bacot (6-11, 235, Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 16.3 points, 13.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.7 blocks, 56.9 FG%

6: Puff Johnson (6-8, 200, Jr.)

2021-22 stats: 3.1 points, 2.0 rebounds, 10.4 minutes

7: Seth Trimble (6-3, 192, Fr.)

247Sports Composite #37 overall ranked recruit

8: Dontrez Styles (6-6, 210, So.)

2021-22 stats: 2.0 points, 1.4 rebounds, 5.8 minutes

9: Jalen Washington (6-10, 225, Fr.)

247Sports Composite #49 overall ranked recruit

*Has been cleared to begin 5-on-5 practice after ACL injury

10: Justin McKoy (6-8, 220, Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 1.0 points, 1.4 rebounds, 7.0 minutes

11: D’Marco Dunn (6-5, 190, So.)

2021-22 stats: 1.0 points, 4.1 minutes

12: Tyler Nickel (6-7, 220, Fr.)

247Sports Composite #81 overall ranked recruit

13: Will Shaver (6-10, 260, Rs.-Fr.)

247Sports Composite #143 overall ranked recruit (2021)

Team MVP: Armando Bacot

Even with two terrific guards in RJ Davis and Caleb Love, the North Carolina Tar Heels run through Armando Bacot. The senior is one of the best players in the country, and arguably the most dominant force down low in a season filled with great centers.

Bacot was a double-double machine last season, recording one in every game but eight. He finished the season with eight double-doubles in a row and had some absurd stat lines, including 28 points and 18 rebounds at NC State and a 19-point, 22-rebound performance at Louisville.

The trifecta of Davis, Love, and Bacot is practically consensus as the top trio in the country, and it all starts with an imposing presence like Bacot in the paint. He’s on the shortlist for National Player of the Year.

Make or Break Player: Puff Johnson

While Caleb Love’s consistency and efficiency might be a glaring issue, he’s still a bucket and will be the best player on the court at times for the Tar Heels. But Johnson will likely be called upon as the sixth man on a UNC team that lost some important bench players.

Johnson is a junior and seems ready to make a big leap. He had some strong games in UNC’s March Madness run – 11 points against Marquette and 11 points, plus 6 rebounds against Kansas in the championship – but still played sparingly over the course of the season. In fact, Johnson barely averaged over 10 minutes per game, and only played over 20 minutes in one game.

However, when Johnson’s name was called for bigger moments, it was because he delivered. Johnson doesn’t need to become a fourth all-star type of player this season, but a noticeable increase across the board would be welcome for a UNC bench.

Analytic to Know: 32nd in PPG in 2021-22

It’s about as simple as it gets! The Tar Heels had one of the best offenses in the country last year, averaging over 77 points per game. They bring back most major pieces, so the chances of UNC being an offensive juggernaut is a high possibility.

Again, it starts with Bacot, Davis, and Love. Leaky Black will have his moments and Puff Johnson has the potential to be a key factor. However, the real player that could bring it all together is Northwestern transfer Pete Nance. Nance is a pure offensive weapon who can score inside and will burn teams outside the paint. Some people doubt if Nance can fill it for Brady Manek, whose lone year with the North Carolina Tar Heels was scary for opposing teams. The eye test and that statistics lead me to believe that Nance will rise to the occasion.

Team Outlook

It’s rare for a team who makes the National Championship game to bring back as many key pieces as the North Carolina Tar Heels do, but that’s just where we stand. The starting lineup in Chapel Hill is as good as any team in the country. 

Get ready for a lot of must-watch games on UNC’s non-conf. schedule. You don’t need to look any further than the Phil Knight Invitational, but if you insist, the Tar Heels will also play games against Indiana, Ohio State, and Michigan. No, I haven’t heard of any rumors of North Carolina to the Big Ten.

If you’re a betting man – and I’m not condoning to – a futures wager on North Carolina to win the championship in 2023 isn’t a bad play. They’ve got the makeup you need to win in March.

Projected Conference Finish: 1st in the ACC

Projected Postseason Finish: NCAA Tournament National Championship Appearance

Ceiling: NCAA Tournament Champions