The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday January 20th

Column: Athletics stock watch for the spring semester

Head coach Courtney Banghart points and smiles at one of the players during the game against Alabama State in Carmichael Arena, on Dec 21, 2021.
Buy Photos Head coach Courtney Banghart points and smiles at one of the players during the game against Alabama State in Carmichael Arena, on Dec 21, 2021.

With another semester upon us, football season has come to a close and both men’s and women’s basketball have begun their conference play. It's time to check on some early (or late) season trends.

Stock down: UNC football

The hype and expectations were there. The team came into the season ranked in the top 10 in preseason rankings and aspirations to compete for an ACC Championship. Overhyped? Possibly. But underwhelming? Absolutely. The team struggled when they weren't in Chapel Hill, going 0-5 away — ending the season on an embarrassing blowout loss at the hands of South Carolina. 

The storylines were the same all season. An inability to stop mobile QBs, no true deep ball threat, Sam Howell constantly facing pressure. The anger from the lack of coaching adjustments grew as the losses piled up. Frustration led to Mack Brown mutually agreeing to part ways with defensive coordinator Jay Bateman. 

All hope isn't lost going forward as the team boasts some returning talent along with a highly ranked incoming recruiting class. Yet, the offseason needs to be approached with a serious sense of focus and purpose. Coaches could be coaching for their jobs next year. Next season will play a huge role in dictating the future success of the football program.

Stock down: College Football Playoff

Two big-time games that turned out to be duds. While there was excitement for the first Group of Five team, Cincinnati and a new face, Michigan, the games failed to produce the same energy.

Expanding the playoff from four to eight or 12 teams appears to be the popular choice to add excitement. More teams means more games, and hopefully more parity. Let's be honest, nobody really wants to watch Alabama play in what seems like every national championship.

Even though head coach Mack Brown and UNC players voiced their opinions against expansion, the time for change is now. Parity in new champions is what makes March Madness so special for college basketball. It's time for college football to follow suit.

Stock up: UNC women’s basketball

The job Courtney Banghart has done cannot be understated. The team raced out to a 13-0 record and vaulted as high as No. 19 in the AP Poll. Led by sophomore guard Deja Kelly, this team possesses some scoring firepower.

And it isn’t just Kelly who carries the load. Sophomore Alyssa Ustby is a walking double-double, graduate transfer Carlie Littlefield brings leadership and experience to the young squad and fellow transfer Eva Hodgson brings her electric shooting off the bench.

This squad has the makings of a team that can make a deep run in both the ACC and NCAA tournaments. If you haven’t already, make a trip over to Carmichael to see them play and add to their current 8-0 home record this year.

Stock sideways: UNC men’s basketball

It’s tough to get a grasp on this team. Some nights, we see a team that can compete for an ACC title and make a run in the NCAA tourney. Other nights, we see a mediocre team plays lackadaisical and look overmatched. 

The underlying factor in which team shows up has been their effort. 

There is no doubt this team is talented. However, the pressure is now on first-year coach Hubert Davis to get a consistent effort out of his squad. After a loss to Notre Dame, junior forward Armando Bacot echoed many fans' frustrations saying, “Going further into the season we’ve got to be more consistent in every game and we can’t be good in some games and not good in others.”

To overcome its current paper tiger status, UNC must feast on ACC competition. The ACC as a whole is down this year, with Duke currently being the conference's only ranked team.

Per Inside Carolina, UNC’s winning percentage against Q1/Q2 teams (1-4) is second-worst among the top 50 teams. With only five Q1 games currently on the schedule ahead, the team needs to make the most in the few big games they have remaining.

@dthopinion

opinion@dailytarheel.com

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