Sixteen Years of UNC Basketball: More Sweet Than Bitter

Grant Halverson

Over the past 16 seasons, North Carolina has faced greater challenges than perhaps any other elite basketball program in the country, but that hasn't prevented the Heels from maintaining an elite level of success.

A healthy discussion with SouthernCub after a completely unrelated post got the wheels turning.

I took issue with some perhaps intended, perhaps imagined insinuations that Duke has been the best--or at least the better--program over the past 10-15 years, and made the counter-argument based largely on NCAA tournament performance. I anticipated a response questioning how the "better" program could be the one that managed to miss three tournaments over the time frame in question. Good point.

This isn't an answer to that question. But that question highlights a fact that's pretty impressive in its own right, one that I'm guessing is unprecedented. Of course, I don't know for sure, which is why I'm asking for your help.

How many other programs in the nation have experienced either of the following two scenarios over a 16-year span:

1. Lost the best coach in the history of their program AND lost 4+ players from four different teams to the NBA.


2. Won 2 National Championships and 10 combined conference tournament or regular season conference titles, and gone to 8 Elite Eights and 5 Final Fours?

And if a program has experienced one scenario (and I realize Duke has--the 16 years from their 1986 Final appearance through their 2001 Championship is probably the most impressive span since Wooden), have they experienced both? North Carolina is the only team I know of that has--and both scenarios occurred within the same 16 years.

I could expect any program having suffered the first scenario to miss three tournaments over that 16-year span. What I wouldn't expect is for that same program to have simultaneously achieved the second.

That's something worth mentioning.

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