College hoops in the Triangle
North Carolina has a storied past with basketball starting in 1957 when the undefeated UNC Tar Heels beat a powerhouse Kansas team led by Wilt Chamberlain 54-52. Over the next sixty years, three different schools from North Carolina have won national championships at least two separate times. NC State won two in 1974 and 1983. UNC, after their 1957 win over Kansas, won five other national championships in 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009, and 2017. And finally Duke has won five in 1991, 1992,2004, and 2015. Two weeks ago on Monday, November 7th, college basketball started back.
UNC, who is coming into this season after an unpredictable run to the National Championship against the only remaining number 1 team Kansas, has come back strong starting with a 3-0 record. They came into the season with four out of five returning starters, ranked number 1 in the nation, and several highly coveted players. Armando Bacot earned a spot in the AP preseason all American and first team preseason ACC after his stellar performance in the NCAA tournament where he was the only player in history to record a triple-double in every tournament game he played including the national championship. Three key players from last year’s national championship run are also returning: Caleb Love,RJ Davis, and Leaky Black who all earned second team all ACC honors. One key question after the 2021-2022 season was who would replace Brady Manek, and Carolina found their replacement in Northwestern transfer Pete Nance who averaged 14.9 points per game and 4 rebounds per game while at northwestern.
Next up is Duke. Duke is coming into this season ranked 7th and has a lot to prove this season. They have a starting line up composed mostly of freshmen. The Duke men’s basketball team is led by five star and the second ranked player of the 2022 class Derek Lively II; he averaged 14 points per game, 14 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks per game. Another key piece to Duke’s squad is forward Dariq Whitehead who along with Derek Lively was a consensus five-star recruit in the class of 2022. The final key piece to Duke’s squad is Kyle Filipowski, another consensus five-star recruit from the class of 2022 who’s been averaging 21 points and 13.9 rebounds per game. The biggest question surrounding the Duke team is its coach, Jon Scheyer. Scheyer played at Duke from 2006 to 2010 and was team captain for 2009 and 2010. Scheyer also coached for eight years under coach K, and after his retirement in 2022, was named the Head Coach.
Finally NC state, NC state is coming into this season unranked nationally and ranked sixth in the ACC. The biggest piece to this team’s success is sophomore Terquavion Smith. Smith was a four-star recruit, ranked number 96 in the class of 2021 nationally, and the fifth highest ranked player in North Carolina. Smith last year averaged 20 points per game and was granted second team all ACC honors. This year is set mostly to be a rebuilding year with NC State recruiting four-star Treymayne Parker, a strong guard out of Georgia for the class of 2023.
This season all three of these teams have a lot to prove; Carolina has to prove that they can run it back for another shot at a national championship. Duke has to prove that they are still championship contenders under their new coach. NC State should be trying to make their way back to the NCAA tournament.