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The Daily Tar Heel

We didn’t forget 1924 … I promise

Powell Latimer
Powell Latimer

You might have noticed we missed something.

In our coverage commemorating North Carolina’s 100 seasons of basketball, we’re running the game stories from national championship years — starting today with 1957.

That also means that our coverage won’t quite match up with the banners hanging in the Smith Center.

We decided just to stick with The Daily Tar Heel’s coverage of national championship games from the NCAA tournament.

No NCAA tournament existed in 1924, when Jack Cobb and Cartwright Carmichael led UNC to a perfect 26-0 season.

So we elected not to run the story from the Tar Heels’ Southern Conference tournament victory against Alabama in the tournament finals on March 4, 1924.

It wasn’t intended to belittle the accomplishments of the 1924 Tar Heels.

But since the national title was only awarded retroactively by the Helms Foundation, and there wasn’t any type of encompassing post-season tournament, it’s really hard for us to run the game story.

While winning 26 games in a row is an impressive accomplishment in any context, collegiate basketball was different in 1924.

Since many colleges in the area did not have basketball teams, the Tar Heels routinely played local YMCAs and club teams. The 1924 team won two games against the Durham Elks club team and one against the Charlotte YMCA.

That being said, the 1924 Tar Heels were especially dominant. They routinely beat teams by more than 20 points.

That includes a stretch at the tail end of the season where UNC beat South Carolina 53-19, William & Mary 54-16 and N.C. State 44-9.

Cobb’s numberless jersey hangs among the rafters of the Smith Center as well. He was a three-time All-America who averaged 15 points per game. To put that in perspective, UNC averaged only 35 points per game during his career.

But without a postseason tournament, it’s really hard to figure a real national champion. With restrictions on travel, teams across the country couldn’t play each other — a problem that persisted into the mid-1970s.

Yet it can be safely assumed that the 1924 UNC team was one of the best of its time, and its accomplishments stand up against just about any other Tar Heel squad.

So enjoy the rest of this week’s commemorative articles — some of the best writing ever to print in the DTH — and also enjoy the interactive timeline we’re putting online Friday documenting all 100 seasons of basketball at UNC.



Contact Powell Latimer at powell.latimer@gmail.com.

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