At UNC’s ‘Live Action with Carolina Basketball’ event in October, North Carolina women's basketball head coach Courtney Banghart donned a white quarter zip jacket to symbolize her goal for the season.
“We’re wearing white tonight because we're gonna host the first two rounds (of the NCAA Tournament) at Carmichael,” she said.
The North Carolina women's basketball team hasn’t hosted an NCAA Tournament game since 2015. And Banghart thinks it’s time to change that. In her mind, she doesn't have to lobby to host the tournament — the numbers speak for themselves.
The argument for a Chapel Hill regional lies in UNC’s strength of schedule. Fourty-two percent of the Tar Heels’ opponents this season were ranked top-25 in the NET — the NCAA’s evaluation tool used to evaluate a team’s record and resume.
UNC is ranked top 12 in the nation when it comes to the average opponent NET ranking — higher than AP No. 1 South Carolina — and the Tar Heels are 6-7 against teams in the NET top-25. With the exception of the loss on the road at Indiana and the overtime loss to N.C. State, the rest were single-digit losses.
“I remember when I was at Princeton, I was always like, ‘Why aren’t we getting more (attention)?’ but my schedule was really different back then, right,” Banghart said following UNC's 44-40 loss to Duke in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. “I was like, ‘Come on, we’re 28-4,’ and then I’d look at how many games I won in the top 25 and I was like, ‘Well, I guess it makes sense.'"
Banghart said it changes a game if a few shots go a different way. But, in tough battles, she said the team looks healthy.
Although the Tar Heels were one of the five teams that eliminated a host last season when they knocked off Arizona in Tucson, hosting a regional is a sure-fire bet to make it to the second weekend, as nearly 70 percent of top-four seeds made it out of their own regional in 2022.
North Carolina certainly doesn't need to host in order to be successful. But, considering the home-crowd boost it would give the team — and the 13-2 record the Tar Heels hold at home this season — it would certainly make advancing easier.