North Carolina’s starting lineup has earned a nickname in recent weeks: “The Iron Five.”

UNC’s starting group of Caleb Love, R.J. Davis, Leaky Black, Brady Manek and Armando Bacot have been the heart-and-soul of this team for months. But as the year has progressed, they’ve become an irreplaceable unit — occasionally playing the entire second half of big games.

The “Iron Five” moniker is a reference to the heavy minutes load that this group has taken on. Four of UNC’s five starters have played in over 80% of available minutes in ACC play. The only exception — Leaky Black — comes in at 73.7%.

Here’s the minutes percentage breakdown of UNC’s starting 5 in conference play, courtesy of KenPom:

  • Caleb Love: 84.7%
  • R.J. Davis: 85.6%
  • Leak Black: 73.7%
  • Brady Manek: 80.4%
  • Armando Bacot: 81.7%

Depth seemingly matters less once you get into March Madness — Kansas also runs a relatively short rotation — but UNC’s reliance on its starters is still unusual.

In the NCAA Tournament, the difference is even more stark. Removing the Marquette game — which was a blowout and saw numerous player get garbage-time minutes — UNC’s bench has contributed just 84 total minutes across four games.

That figure includes UNC’s overtime win over Baylor, which had an inflated amount of bench production due to Manek’s ejection. Still, 84 minutes represents just over 10% of all available minutes over that stretch.

Dontrez Styles and Puff Johnson will likely get cursory minutes on Monday night against Kansas. But if North Carolina is going to pull off the upset and win the National Championship, it will be because the Iron Five lived up to its nickname.