Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court. You can find him on Twitter @zhayes9.
Which program is in the best shape to compete for national titles the next five years?
The components of a successful college basketball program mimic a virtuous cycle: find the solution to the initial problem and the issues that follow are infinitely easier to solve. Once a foundation of success is built, once winning evolves into an expectation rather than a wish, everything else falls into place. Locating that first transformational coach and winning that first national title is the most difficult part. Once winning on the biggest stage becomes a habit, players follow that want to live up to the expectations set by their predecessors. A history begins to build. A brand is established. Aside from an occasional bump in the road, these esteemed programs inevitably become an unstoppable machine.
Unstoppable machine seems like an accurate way to describe the North Carolina Tar Heels over the next five years under Roy Williams.
The hype surrounding this year’s team is both unmatched and totally justified. One required trait of a top-flight program is sustainability and Williams has successfully re-loaded not even three years since a Tyler Hansbrough-led Carolina juggernaut cut down the nets in Detroit. A fresh influx of young, talented and hungry stars have arrived antsy to match the accolades of their elders and continue the tradition established by Dean Smith. Expectations for 2011-12 are precisely where Williams and the Tar Heel faithful want them: national championship or bust.