Saturday, June 10, 2023

Carmichael Comments: NET Profits – University of North Carolina Athletics

On December 13ththe Carolina women’s basketball team entered the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since the fall of 2015. For all but one week since, the Tar Heels have stayed in the Associated Press rankings, hovering in the 20s and reaching as high as 19th, To the casual fan, the Associated Press Top 25 has long been the standard to determine the best teams in America – and not without merit. While subjective, the poll does typically reflect team quality. ESPN uses the poll to show the top 25 team scores on their bottom line ticker, a massive boost for program visibility.

But for more serious fans, you might have seen references to a top-five ranking for Carolina throughout the season. What’s that all about? That’s the NET ranking. NET, a clever pun of an acronym (get it? Like a net on a basketball hoop?), stands for NCAA Evaluation Tool. It’s a complex formula that is not fully public, but we do know the basic components: a team’s offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, outcome of the game, location of the game (home, road, neutral), and weighing all of those factors against the strength of the opponent. For a more in-depth dive on the components of the formula, check out this article on, or its corresponding FAQ page.

The basic goal of the NET is to place every Division I team – yes, all 356 that play women’s basketball – on a theoretically equal playing field for evaluation for at-large selections and seeding for the NCAA Tournament in March. While it is a critical piece of data used by the NCAA selection committee in that process, it’s important to remember that it’s not the only data the committee analyzes. It’s updated daily starting in early December after an initial rankings release. When those rankings were announced for the first time on Dec. 6, some around the women’s basketball community were surprised to see the Tar Heels appear at No. 2. But Carolina has routinely proven that initial high ranking was no fluke: just once in the daily rankings since have the Tar Heels fallen out of the top 5: January 26th, when they took a precipitous drop to…sixth. A win over archrival Duke the following day, and it was right back into the top five.

When you start to unpack the numbers, you come to understand why Carolina is in this position.

Carolina owns 10 wins by 25 points or more, nine of which have come by 30 or better, so the margin of victory factor is there. The average margin of victory, 20.2, ranked third nationally into play this week, and tops among power conference teams. Only mid-majors Florida Gulf Coast and Stephen F. Austin fared better. Then, there’s one of the nation’s best defenses. Carolina’s 54.2 points allowed per game ranks in the top 15 in the nation, and the 33.9 field goal percentage defense is fifth nationally and best in the ACC.

When you take a look at the Tar Heels’ opponents, you see that Carolina has nine wins over teams ranked in the top 100 of the NET, with the best win coming against No. 13 Virginia Tech on Jan. 9 at Carmichael. We also discussed the concept of where you beat a team. Carolina has eight wins at road or neutral venues, which are weigh heavier than a home win.

Another piece of data the committee looks at when seeding teams is record by NET quadrant. In the women’s game, the quadrants are NET 1-25, 26-50, 51-100, and 100+. Carolina is a perfect 18-0 against foes in the last three quadrants, a fancy way of saying the Tar Heels’ resume does not feature a single “bad” loss.

When the NCAA committee released their “if the season ended today” top 16 seeds last Thursday, all 16 teams featured currently appear in the top 19 in the NET. Only Carolina, Brigham Young, and Virginia Tech are teams in the NET top 16 and not currently projected as a seed. Point being: the NET matters.

So while Carolina fans have been entertained by the play of this Tar Heel team all season, and new supporters have jumped on the bandwagon, just know this: the computers agree. This is team is good. And that’s a great place to be headed into March.

Here’s what else caught my eye this week…

Friendly Competition Breeds Success
In theory, no shot in basketball is easier than a free throw. The clock is stopped, there’s no defense, and a shooter can set their feet 15 feet away from the hoop. But any player, especially one at the ACC level, could tell you that the mental challenges of being a successful free throw shooter are many, and a “charity shot” is far from automatic. Yet in hotly contested conference games, free throws can often play a critical role in the outcome. So when Carolina endured an eight-game stretch immediately after the holiday break that saw the Tar Heels shoot 70 percent or better at the line just three times, Carolina head coach Courtney Banghart knew that free throws needed to become a point of emphasis. So, she instituted a friendly competition at the end of practices in order to promote improvement at the line. Players are mixed up into various teams, and take a certain number of free throws with bragging rights on the line. The exercise has worked, as Carolina has shot 77 percent or better at the line in each game in February, and is 70-for-83 as a team (84.3 percent) in the month. That includes 20-for-21 (95 percent) against Miami, and 12-for-13 (93 percent) at Virginia Tech.

“It’s a rhythm shot, and it’s a shot that’s obviously free,” Banghart said. “We want to try and take advantage of those as much as we can.”

Crashing the Glass
During the Tar Heels’ daunting January stretch, opponents won the rebound battle six times in a seven-game span from Jan. 6 to Jan. 30. While Carolina still won three of the six games in which it was outrebounded, it’s still a point of emphasis for a team that has spent much of the season among the ACC’s leaders on the glass. Once the calendar flipped to February, though, the ability to win the boards has shone through for the Tar Heels, who have controlled the rebound margin in all four games played this month. That effort was especially impressive in the win over Pitt, a team that entered the contest No. 1 in the ACC in rebounds per game (45.3) and in offensive rebounds per game (16.0), and ranked in the top 10 nationally in both categories. Carolina held a 43-36 rebound advantage in the win, and limited Pitt to only eight offensive rebounds – none in the first half, and half the Panthers’ season average. Eight offensive rebounds matched Pitt’s lowest number of the season and marked the only time in ACC play that the residents of the Steel City failed to reach double-digit offensive boards.

“I thought that was a really good effort,” Banghart reflected after Thursday’s game. “That was a priority for us. They’re great on the glass. It was a really physical game, so positioning was important, and our guys battled as hard as they could.”

Hodgson Back on Her Feet
We talked in this column last month about how much the Tar Heels felt the absence of Eva Hodgson in their 70-65 road loss at Notre Dame on Jan. 16, a game Hodgson missed due to Covid protocols. Since basketball players are creatures of habit – something Hodgson discussed on last week’s edition of Holding Court – even a short time away from the routine of practices and games can derail momentum. That’s especially evident for players who are known as elite shooters, and such a pattern appeared in Hodgson’s stat lines. Prior to the Notre Dame game, she had scored in double figures in five of six games and had hit 11 of 24 three-point attempts for a 45.8 percent clip. Since her return, it’s almost been like starting over at square one. On Jan. 20 against Virginia, it was a three-point, 0-for-5-from-three night. The scoring numbers rose steadily. Four points. Then seven. On Feb. 3 at Wake Forest, Hodgson hit two threes in a game for the first time in nearly a month. In the two games this week against Pitt and Virginia Tech, she finally returned to the double-figure scoring column with 14 points against the Panthers and 10 against the Hokies. The 14-point night on Thursday included a 3-for-3 performance from behind the arc, one of which was a key triple to snap a 15-0 Pitt run in the fourth quarter.

Up Next
The journey doesn’t get any easier now for the No. 24 Tar Heels. No. 3 Louisville visits Carmichael on Thursday for the lone meeting of the regular season between the two teams. Though the Tar Heels have yet to beat the Cardinals in the ACC era (since 2015), the last four meetings have been decided by 11 points or fewer. It’s a golden opportunity for Carolina to earn another signature, quad-1 win. Tip is set for 6 pm on Thursday. Broadcast coverage begins at 5:30 pm with the Reeds Jewelers Pregame Show. Catch the call on all our streaming options – The Varsity Network App from Learfield,, and the GoHeels app – all for free. Additionally, our flagship station, 97.9 FM/1360 AM WCHL, will join the broadcast right at 6:00 for tipoff.

Then on Sunday, the Tar Heels will venture to Tallahassee for the lone regular season showdown with the Florida State Seminoles, the last ACC team Carolina has yet to see this season. That game tips at noon. Broadcast coverage begins at 11:30 am with the Reeds Jewelers Pregame Show. Catch the call on all our streaming options – The Varsity Network App from Learfield, GoHeel, and the GoHeels app – all for free. Additionally, our flagship station, 97.9 FM/1360 AM WCHL, will carry the broadcast in its entirety.
In the meantime, a new edition of Holding Court with Courtney Banghart will air on Tuesday night at 7:00 pm on WCHL. Tune in to hear from Coach Banghart on all things Carolina Women’s Basketball, including a preview of this week’s games. As always, the show will be available on the Tar Heel Voices Podcast Channel. It’s set to roll out Wednesday morning wherever you get your podcasts.

That’s all for now! Go Heels!


World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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