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The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

UNC Women’s Lacrosse Heads to Final Four

It has been an interesting season for the UNC Women’s Lacrosse team in 2018. The season started with a loss to James Madison which was a shock to most. No one had a clue that James Madison was going to be a top 20 team, no less a Final Four caliber team. In an overtime loss (15-14) the Tar Heels started the season on a sour note.

They then played a poor game against High Point on the road and crushed Liberty. In the biggest game of the year, UNC beat Maryland 16-15 at Kenan Stadium in what looked to be the turn around game of the season. The Tar Heels were headed back to the top spot and were going to finish the season strong, right? Not quite.

Th Florida Gators came into Kenan Stadium and absolutely crushed the Tar Heels. Most would agree that UNC has never been dominated in such a way that the Gators did on March 3rd. Florida won 17-10 and the game was never close. The UNC defense looked more lost in this matchup than they have in recent memory. What was to come of this team? Could the Tar Heels really drop out of the top 10?

After victories vs UVA, Elon and Northwestern, the Tar Heels were dominated again by Boston College. This time, 17-11. Never before has a UNC team lost by a large margin twice in the regular season. In the last five years, when UNC did lose, it was by one or two goals, not by six or seven.

Since losing to Boston College on March 24th, the Tar Heels have reeled off 11 straight wins and none have been close. The Heels got their revenge against Boston College in the ACC Championship game in which they won 14-11.

During the NCAA Tournament, goalie Taylor Moreno has been the star. It is interesting to note that Moreno did not start nor played the majority of the game in the big losses versus Florida and Boston College early in the season. She also did not start against James Madison to start the season.

It has all come full circle as the UNC Women’s Lacrosse team will play James Madison in the national semifinal game on Friday, May 26th, 2018. These teams are completely different from that February 10th matchup.

Maggie Bill wasn’t on the field, it was Jamie Ortega’s first game and Marie McCool was disqualified with two yellow cards. It is safe to say the Tar Heels will play this one a little bit differently. It will be fun to watch as the Heels hope to advance to the National Championship game on Sunday, May 27th.

This post was brought to you by the Wilmington, NC Health Insurance Agents of The Mair Agency.

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No ACC Basketball Teams in the Final Four

For the first time in quite some time, ACC fans will not have much to cheer for in the 2018 Final Four in San Antonio, Texas. The ACC has had a team in the championship game the last three years and has come away victorious in two of those three – Duke and UNC. One would imagine that most ACC fans will be cheering for Loyola Chicago this year. As a#11 seed, Loyola Chicago would be the biggest cinderella story in this history of the NCAA tournament. The 1982 NC State team would have to take a back seat.

Most ACC basketball fans will admit that this has been a down year for the conference; especially in terms of an NCAA Tournament performance. The University of Virginia was the first #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed and they did so in a big way. Most would call it the biggest upset in the history of college basketball. UNC was clobbered by Texas A&M in the second round and NC State couldn’t even get a single tournament win. While Clemson, Florida State and Syracuse all had good showings, that does not offset the losses by UVA, UNC and the rest of the conference.

As the 2018-19 college basketball season approaches, it will be interesting to see how the national media ranks the top ACC teams. Duke and UNC will always get the respect they deserve, but will anyone take UVA seriously? Can NC State, Syracuse, Louisville and Clemson break into the top 25 next season? Which teams will be consistent enough to get a few road wins to go with those important home wins in 2018-19?

Well, now that the college basketball season is over, it is time to look forward to football season. FSU has a new head coach and Clemson will be a national title contender. NC State could be a top 20 team and Louisville will have to replace a Heisman Trophy winner.

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Wake Forest High School Wins Back to Back State Championships

Wake Forest went into the 4AA State Championship as the defending state champs but were not picked to win the game. Mallard Creek was 14-0 and a favorite to dethrone the Wake Forest Cougars. Most of those living in the Triangle area were confident Wake Forest was the best team in the state. Those in Charlotte have always felt superior with powerhouses such as Butler, Independence, Charlotte Catholic and Shelby.

As soon as the game began, it was quite obvious the game was going to be a defensive battle. The game was scoreless for three quarters before Wake Forest scored 21 points in the fourth quarter. With either team getting up by two scores, it was going to be an insurmountable lead. After the second touchdown in the 4th quarter, it was all said and done.

Now, heading into the 2018 season, one would imagine Wake Forest High School and Raleigh area teams will get more respect throughout the state. Even though they will be losing some important seniors, the program has become a viable top 5 team in the state for the years to come. What will be interesting in the next few years is if Heritage High can find a way to compete with Wake Forest High School. Heritage High as several ex NFL players as coaches which is very appealing to high school football players that have an option in attending Raleigh area high schools.

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We will keep a close eye on how the Triangle rankings adjust in 2018. If Wake Forest High School is not #1 after winning back to back state championships something is very wrong.

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Should the Big 12 Champion Get in the CFP?

As I write this Oklahoma is beating TCU 31-14 just before halftime in what is essentially the Big 12 Championship game. Well, not really. Unlike the rest of the country, the Big 12 does not have a true championship game. It is the only power conference in which the champion is crowned in the regular season. It is also the case that the Big 12 is, by far and away, the weakest conference when it comes to defense. Even the PAC-12 cannot claim that honor. So, should the Big 12 champion get in the College Football Playoff?

In years past, we have argued the Big 10 champion was going to lay an egg in the CFP and that came to fruition. We won’t rag on the Big 10 in this post; it is the Big 12 that should now be called out. If Oklahoma goes on to win the game against TCU and ends up with one loss this season, they are almost guaranteed a spot in the College Football Playoff. Unfortunately, there is a good chance they will play another non competitive game in the semifinal.

Two years ago Clemson handled Oklahoma in the semifinal game before losing to Alabama in the championship. Last year the committee selected Ohio State and Washington over the Big 12 champion and both of those schools were manhandled in the College Football Playoff.

The concern with the Big 12 is not athletes, it is defense. In the first half of the TCU vs Oklahoma game there have been dozens of missed tackles and blown coverages. It is like the old NCAA Football game on Playstation. Let the team score so you can get the ball back with more than a minute on the clock. The winner of the Big 12 will not be playing another weak Big 12 defense when they get in the CFP.

If the committee really wants the four best teams in the country in the playoff they will have to consider leaving the Big 12 champion out. There is still a very strong case for two ACC teams vs two SEC teams in the CFP. If we want to see the best matchups and the best football in the CFP we will not put Oklahoma against the ACC or SEC champion. One would argue Oklahoma is never out of the game but they may never be in it if the defense we are currently watching is on the field.

What do you think? Does the Big 12 Champion deserve to be in the CFP even though they don’t have to win a championship game and there is very little defense played in the Big 12?

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Can Miami Make the CFP After a Loss in the ACC Championship Game?

Here is the potential scenario – Miami goes into the ACC Championship Game undefeated with wins over a top 15 Virginia Tech and a top 5 Notre Dame. They are ranked in the top 5 and will play the defending national champions in the ACC Championship game. Clemson and Miami play a tight game in which Clemson wins in the 4th quarter. This means Miami will have one loss to the defending national champions that will, for sure, be in the College Football Playoff. Will the committee let Miami in?

We can also assume Georgia will be undefeated when they take on an undefeated Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Both the winner and loser of the SEC Championship game is likely getting into the College Football Playoff; unless it is a complete blowout. That means we have Alabama, Georgia, Clemson and who else?

One could argue that the winner of the TCU vs Oklahoma game will grab that final spot. That said, the TCU vs Oklahoma winner will not have as good of a loss as Miami.

We could see the ACC Championship game vs the SEC Championship game in the College Football Playoff if everything falls into place. This hypothesis is solely based on Miami, UGA and Alabama going undefeated into their respective championship games.

As most diehard college football fans know, there will be plenty of shakeups in the final few weeks. It won’t be unheard of for Alabama, Georgia and Miami to all lose on the same day. It is also possible that Clemson could lose to South Carolina in their last regular season game of the year. While this is unlikely, it is definitely possible.

We will have to wait and see what happens on November 11th, 2017 as that will help us better understand what the College Football Playoff committee is going to have to decide in December.

Do you think  Miami deserves to have a spot in the College Football Playoff if their only loss is to a top 4 Clemson team that was in the national championship the last two years? We would argue Miami will have the best resume, especially if you are willing to argue TCU or Oklahoma.

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2017 UNC Men’s Soccer Preview

While it may be a ‘rebuilding’ year for our men’s football team, the same cannot be said for the Men’s soccer team who has been voted as the preseason favorite to win the ACC title. This is a big complement to the Tar Heels given ACC men’s soccer is a true powerhouse in Division 1 soccer. 9 ACC teams made the NCAA tournament last year with 8 out of that 9 making it to the Sweet 16. Half of the entire Sweet 16 pool was from ACC teams, so being regarded by ACC coaches as the impending ACC champion is no small feat. Wake Forest, Clemson, UVA and Notre Dame represent the rest of the top 5.

In addition to being the preseason favorite for winning the ACC tournament, Carolina was voted as pre-season No. 4 in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason poll. The ACC comes in strong yet again, lending the most teams from a single conference to the pre-season top 25 by a long shot. 6 schools are ranked in the top 10, with Carolina, Wake Forest, Clemson, Syracuse, Louisville and Notre Dame being ranked respectively. In addition to those teams, UVA and Virginia Tech are also ranked within the top 25.

UNC is bringing in a strong and large freshman class with no less than 11 freshman.

  • John Nelson- The Ohio recruit was ranked the No. 1 player in the 2017 class by College Soccer News, and he has been a U.S. National team participant since the age of 14.
  • Lucas del Rosario was ranked the No. 15 player in the 2017 class by College Soccer News, and he too has been a National Team Participant since the age of 14. He grew up in Durham, North Carolina, so is as local as they come.
  • Alex Rose was a nominee for the Top Drawer Soccer National Player of the Year. He was called up to the U19 U.S. National team, and he is known for being one of the best goal scorer’s in the country with over 90 career academy goals. Rose too is a local product of Cary, N.C.
  • Liam Williams is not a local product, hailing from Taupo, New Zealand. Williams was a member of the U20 New Zealand World Cup team.
  • Mark Sales is a Dallas, TX native who was the No. 52 Top Drawer Soccer prospect for the 2017 class. He has participated in US Men’s National Team camps.
  • Raul Aguilera Jr. is ranked the No. 19 player in the 2017 class by College Soccer News, and he is a NSCAA All-American. He too has participated in U-15, U-16 and U-18 U.S. National teams. Aguilera is from Sanford, Florida.
  • Alec Smir is an incoming keeper and enrolled at UNC in January of 2017. He has attended U.S. Men’s National Team camps from 2015-2017, and he is from Greensboro, NC.
  • Julius Momkus is a native of Vilnius, Lithuania where he was a top scorer for his club team averaging 20 goals per season.
  • Mason Wittman is a Palo Alto, California native whose club coach on the San Jose Earthquakes Academy team was Chris Leitch, former 2001 UNC Men’s Soccer National Champion.
  • Charlie Forecast was the Captain of the U18 Wigan athletic side and is from Melton Mowbray, England. He is a versatile athlete, having also played Rugby and Track & Field.
  • Prince Agyie is a Takoma Park, MD native and has played on a variety of teams inclusive of D.C. United Academy, Barca FC, and Maryland United.

Our 2017 recruiting class is filled with players who have been on national teams, are top ranked in the country, and have a diverse set of playing backgrounds. It is not surprising UNC has been a pre-season favorite, so now we will see if this freshman class is as good on the field as they are on paper.

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2017 UNC Football Preview

Google Carolina Football, and you will find that South Carolina reigns supreme as the official Carolina. This is not only unacceptable, but clearly kept under the radar in the Carolina community. While Carolina football certainly isn’t what alumni bet their money on, we still retain ongoing hope that our football team will make it into the top 25. The years of John Bunting and Butch Davis really tested Carolina fans’ loyalty and resilience as year after year, the program ended on a losing note.

2015 was the year Carolina fans restored their faith in UNC football. After a close loss to South Carolina, UNC took off with 11 straight wins, setting a new standard for the football program. It was the longest winning streak in recent program history, and the Tarheels came close to clinching the ACC championship, losing to #1 Clemson 37-45.

2016 was unfortunately not as successful, with the team ending the season with an 8-5 record and losing to Stanford in the Sun Bowl 25-23. While our record wasn’t what fans would have hoped for, one redeeming moment was when Mitch Trubisky came in as the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft going to none other than the Chicago Bears. While the Carolina legacy was not made on the field with our record, at least our star player was carrying it on in the pros.

The 2017 season is upon us, and Mitch Trubisky is not the only talented player the team will not have back on the field. We have lost our top three running backs and three starting wide receivers. We have also lost several crucial defensive players. While 2016 wasn’t a stunning success, 2017 is certainly said to be a rebuilding year for the team whose previous season frankly wasn’t necessarily successful enough to ‘rebuild’ from.

One of the biggest questions UNC faces is who the quarterback will be given the departure of Trubisky. There are four people vying for the position currently with the rumored leader for the job being LSU transfer Brandon Harris. Other quarterback contenders are Logan Byrd, Nathan Elliot, and Chazz Surrat. Brandon Harris has starting experience at LSU, and his main competition for the starting spot will be Nathan Elliot. Elliot is the only player who has been on the field for Carolina, serving as Trubisky’s backup.

With the loss of Ryan Switzer, Mack Hollins, and Bug Howard, there are large holes in Carolina’s talent pool, so 2017 teammates have big shoes to fill. Some incoming players to note are grad transfers Cam Dillard from Florida and Khaliel Rodgers from USC who will contribute significantly to a lacking offensive line. Carolina’s defense will have to compensate for the lack of offensive firepower.

Fortunately on top of the new additions, our defensive line will return 11 of the top 13 contributors. In other positive news, the 2017 team returns its top 5 linebackers from 2016. The last hole in the Carolina lineup is for the kicker’s position, but Freeman Jones is a potential solution to the loss of Nick Weiler. Jones’ in-game experience is limited, so 2017 will be a true test for the kicker.

Ultimately, UNC fans are best served to keep their expectations limited for the 2017 season. UNC will have to hold tight if fans hope to reclaim the title of the real “Carolina” football, but 2017 will hopefully be a building (versus rebuilding) year that takes the team onto future success.

This post is supported by North Raleigh Dentists Wainright and Wassel.

2017 Roundup – UNC Womens Soccer

Fall is upon us, and with that means a new Freshman class at UNC. With the smartest kids in the country descending upon Chapel Hill, so will some of the most athletic. UNC women’s soccer is a dynasty unmatched in collegiate sports, and their freshman class lives up to this reputation. The UNC women’s soccer team will be bringing in nine girls to round out the freshman class.

The majority of the nine incoming freshman players hail from the great state of North Carolina, while two of the players come from outside of the US. Carrboro High School is the breeding ground of two of the nine recruits, making it the only local high school to land girls on the roster. Historically, Chapel Hill and East Chapel Hill have been a breeding ground for UNC walk ons, but no former East or Chapel Hill players have made the 2017 team.

Lotte Wubben-Moy: The 5’10 center back is a force to reckon with, having made 35 international appearances for England and 12 for the Arsenal Ladies. Wubben-Moy is a London, England native, and will be enrolling at UNC in August.

Alea Hyatt: Santa Barbara, CA native Alea Hyatt is a U18 Women’s National Team member. She stands at 5’9 and joins her brother who plays for Stanford University as the second collegiate soccer player in her family. She was also a kicker on her high school football team.

Laura Sparling: Laura is a former Carrboro high school attendee where she had 19 goals and 27 assists throughout her high school career. The 5’5 midfielder/forward was an All-State honoree and three-time NCHSAA 2A champion.

Alessia Russo: Alessia Russo is the second incoming recruit hailing from the UK. The 5’9 Russo is from Maidstone, Kent, England, and she has played for England since the U15 level where she has scored 23 goals overall.

Sydney Spruill: Greenville, NC native Sydney Spruill has been enrolled at Carolina since January. She has played for multiple clubs in the area, including CASL which has a history of being a feeder club to UNC.

Sam DeSantis: Sam DeSantis is a sophomore at UNC, and will be joining the soccer team this fall for her first season. The Goalkeeper stands at 5’7 and is a Hickory, NC native. She had a 3.94 GPA her freshman year at Carolina.

Emily Fox: This is not the first time freshman Emily Fox will be playing alongside her UNC teammates. The freshman started at Carolina in January, and fellow Carolina players Jessie Scarpa and Taylor Otto played with Fox at the U20 World Cup in Papau, New Guinea. Fox has been with the U20 national team since 2015. Fox is from Ashburn, VA.

Miah Araba: Carrboro high school’s second contribution to the UNC women’s soccer team is Miah Araba, who was the valedictorian of the 2017 class. She is a three-time 2A NCHSAA state champion, and in 47 career games, she was scored 54 goals.

Brooke Bingham: Laurel Springs, NC based recruit Brooke Bingham enrolled at UNC this past January. The 5’9 player chose to practice with a boy’s team instead of playing high school soccer.

The freshman class will not be the only change coming to the UNC women’s team. The university finalized funding for an entirely new soccer stadium, and the demolishment of Fetzer field has begun. The new stadium will cost $55 million, and will attach via an East-West concourse to the new indoor and outdoor football practice facilities that are also being built. The total bill for these renovations is rumored to approach $98 million. The 2017 recruiting class paired with UNC’s amazing track record and incoming brand new facilities should surely be enough to keep the dynasty going.

This post is sponsored and supported by North Raleigh Dentist’s Office Wainright & Wassel.

The 2017 NBA Draft – UNC Edition

The 2017 draft has come and gone, and so have the dreams of Carolina alumni Isiaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, and Nate Britt to be drafted on draft night. While this was not the end of the former Tar Heels’ journey, it certainly isn’t the start that they could have hoped for. In contrast, Justin Jackson became the 17th Tar Heel from the Roy Williams era to be picked in the first round. Tony Bradley became the 18th, which was unexpected for UNC fans given Bradley was projected to go in the second round.

Jackson was the ACC Player of the year and first team All-America, so his first-round status was not a surprise. Jackson was selected No. 15 overall by the Portland Trailblazers, but his rights were traded to the Sacramento Kings after they traded the No. 10 overall pick to Portland for their 15th and 20th picks. Jackson will be joining the Carolina alumn Ty Lawson at the Kings, which creates a UNC point guard and small forward powerhouse over in Sacramento. Forbes released an article projecting first round pick salaries, and Jackson was forecasted to make $5.2 million through his contract after two years, and $12.1 million after four years.

The Utah Jazz had their mind’s set on Tony Bradley, and they traded both their 30 and 42 picks to the Lakers in exchange for the 28th pick in order to secure Bradley. Bradley surprised the Carolina community with his entrance into the draft given he came off of the bench most of his Freshman year behind Kennedy Meeks. Time will tell if this was the right decision for the player, however being a first round pick was uncertain for him, so his future is looking good. Bradley is projected to make $3.1 million in the first two years off of his contract, and $7.7 million after his first four.

As for the UNC players who went undrafted, Meeks and Hicks became undrafted free agents. Kennedy Meeks did not have to wait long after the end of the draft to sign with the Toronto Raptors. Meeks was named by Yahoo Sports as one of the top five best players to go un-drafted, so The Raptors gained a great asset for a much smaller price then Meeks could have been worth. He signed a partially guaranteed contract. Hicks was also rumored to be a potential second round pick. The power forward ended signing with The Clippers. Nate Britt was called to play with the Atlanta Hawks in their summer league, so he too has the potential to end up in the NBA.

All in all, it was a successful year for the Carolina basketball community. To have two players go in the first round is certainly no small feat. To then have 2 more of our players sign is also a big deal. Coming off of a national championship, the Carolina basketball legacy has certainly been upheld by the 2017 NBA class of Tar Heel alumni. The Trailblazers, Jazz, Raptors, and Clippers have certainly gained a few more fans thanks to their 2017 draft picks.

This article is supported and sponsored by Wells Family Dentistry in Raleigh, NC.

Women’s Sports in Chapel Hill at UNC

As an ex-female athlete and graduate, one thing I know for sure is that the University of North Carolina is a powerhouse for all things women’s sports. While UNC may be known for men’s basketball, the university really becomes infamous thanks to its women’s soccer team reining in 22 national championships. Compare this to men’s basketball, who has just 6 national championships, yet is revered as a dynasty in college athletics. This is not to take credit away from our infamous and deserving basketball team, but it is to showcase how unique our women’s soccer team’s success is. In fact, Carolina women’s soccer is the winningest program in college athletic history if you look at national championships. For additional reference, UConn women’s basketball, who is also revered as one of the winningest programs in college history- has won 11 National Championships. Lastly, what is most impressive about the Carolina women’s soccer team is that they have won 22 out of 36 total national championships, meaning UNC has won almost 2/3 of the total possible number of championships.

This article is not a plea for the recognition of women’s sports over men’s. It is actually to showcase the breadth of women’s sports viewing options fans have in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as compared to the rest of the country. Not only does Chapel Hill have great women’s sports due to the soccer team, it also has a variety of sports for people to watch. In contrast, I live in New York City and my viewing options for women’s sports are not only minimal, but they are not easily accessible. This is partially due to their not being a major division 1 collegiate athletic program in the city (I’m sorry Columbia, you don’t count). It is also partially due to how expensive fields and courts cost, which is doubly a problem when the revenue for women’s sports is so low. New York is the city that has everything, but it is not even comparable to Chapel Hill when it comes to viewing women’s sports.

New York City gives one pro women’s sports viewing option via the New York Liberty who play at Madison Square Garden. They play during the summer after the NBA and NHL season has completed, and on average about 9,000 people attend the games. In comparison, for a good soccer game at Fetzer field, upwards of 6,500 people will attend a game. What is important to think about is the fact that Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people, yet Carolina’s stadium sells out for the biggest games. There is a market for good women’s sports viewing in Chapel Hill that is unmatched elsewhere because of the depth of talent and viewing options UNC provides.

In addition to women’s soccer, field hockey has been a strong contributor to UNC women’s athletic success. The field hockey program matches men’s basketball with 6 national championships, and they landed their latest in 2009. Women’s lacrosse is a new women’s powerhouse sport, having won 2 national championships in the past 5 years. Women’s basketball is also consistently ranked in the top 25, and have a far more accessible stadium for the casual viewer who may not want to battle the crowds or parking decks over at the Smith Center.

I think there is a direct correlation between the abundance of women’s sports at Carolina and the success of female athletes who grew up in Chapel Hill. Every year, there is a girl like me to join the new recruiting class of UNC women’s soccer. The town of Chapel Hill also send athletes to the most competitive schools in the country, and it has even had a few Olympians who grew up in the town. This is not a coincidence, and the breadth and talent of UNC women’s sports is unique to Chapel Hill alone.

This article is supported by Wake Forest pediatric dental office Triangle Pediatric Dentistry. If you are a mother or father to a young child, we strongly recommend taking them to Dr. Porter or Dr. Hollowell in Wake Forest, NC.

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