Elmar Bolowich's boys are coming off a runner-up finish in the 2008 Men's College Cup.
The Heels return six starters and all four substitutes from last year's team that lost ACC rival Maryland, 1-0, in the final.
Billy Dworsky, UNC's leading scorer in 2007, is back in action after redshirting in 2008, and two former first-team freshman All-Americans Michael Farfan (Cal State Fullerton) and Stephen McCarthy (Santa Clara) transferred to Chapel Hill.
The freshman class is led by South Carolina prep legend Enzo Martinez (182 goals at Northwestern High School).
-- Only two other ACC teams are ranked in the Top 25 -- No. 5 Wake Forest and Maryland No. 8. Both teams suffered heavy losses to the pro ranks but both welcome strong freshman classes.
-- The Big East led all conferences with five teams in the Top 25: No. 3 St. John's, No. 10 Notre Dame, No. 13 Connecticut, No. 18 South Florida and No. 23 Louisville.
-- Unlike the women, where a half a dozen conferences dominated the preseason rankings, the Men's Top 25 features teams from 13 conferences. Other conferences represented are the Big West and Big Ten with three, Pac-10 with two and the Mid-American, Missouri Valley, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, CAA, Conference USA, America East and MPSF, all with one.
TRIVIA: Never has a school swept the men's and women's Division I titles in the same year. The Carolina women won and the men were second in 2008. The only year the Tar Heel men won the national championship was in 2001 when the women fell to Santa Clara in the final.
Soccer America Top 5
TEAM (2008 RECORD)
1. North Carolina (15-8-1)
2. Akron (17-2-4)
3. St. John's (19-3-3)
4. Indiana (14-7-3)
5. Wake Forest (21-2-1)
Soccer America Men's Preseason Top 25
Wednesday: Soccer America Men's Preseason All-Americans
* Virginia's preseason troubles continued as the Cavs fell to Old Dominion, 3-1, on Monday night. All the goals came in the last 15 minutes. Freshman Ahkeel Rodney evened the score after Nane Joseph put ODU ahead on a penalty kick, but the Monarchs won on late goals by Emmanuel Ambane and Yannick Smith. Virginia had lost, 1-0, to another state rival, George Mason, on Friday.
* Ethan Finlay had both goals for No. 6 Creighton in its 4-2 loss to the Kansas City Wizards on Monday. Former Bluejay standout Michael Kraus scored the game-winning goal for the MLS team.
* Steven Perry's goal was the difference as Notre Dame edged No. 11 Northwestern, 1-0, before 1,756 fans in South Bend.