Brian Holberton slid home with the game's first run in the elimination game in Omaha.
Brian Holberton slid home with the game's first run in the elimination game in Omaha.
View larger
Lucas: Second Opinion
Release: 08/02/2013

By Adam Lucas

It's a terrific luxury to quibble over choices for the best win in a college sports year.

Let's see...which of the three national championships was better? Was that ACC title really more fun than the other one?

But that's exactly the conundrum facing the braintrust over the past few weeks, as they've been counting down the best Tar Heel wins of the 2012-13 athletic year.

When you win as much as Carolina did last year--in all head-to-head sports combined, Tar Heel teams went 312-95-6 (.763) against all opponents, and 118-45-2 (.721) against Atlantic Coast Conference foes--it's a thankless task to pick a favorite. You can't go wrong, really. 

Unless you do.

I have two personal issues with the recently completed list. These are my opinions only. You probably have your own, too.  But there are two problems:

1. The best baseball win of the season is nowhere on there.

2. There was a clear-cut champion among the national championship wins.

Let's start with the first one. I understand that the 18-inning win over NC State was really long, and it's crazy that the two teams have played two really long games in back-to-back years of the ACC Tournament.

And it's not that wins over the Wolfpack aren't significant. It's that there was a much more important win over that same squad, and it came in Omaha at the College World Series in an elimination game--a much bigger stage than the ACC Tournament.

If the Tar Heels had beaten State at the ACC Tournament but then been eliminated by them in the CWS, you'd still be cleaning up confetti that drifted to Chapel Hill from Hillsborough Street.

Think back to June 20. Carlos Rodon had handcuffed Carolina in an 8-1 whipping in the opening game in Omaha, a game that was arguably the biggest win in State baseball history. Carolina beat LSU and the Pack lost to UCLA, setting up a rematch later that week.

State head coach Elliott Avent waited until minutes before game time to switch his announced starting pitcher for Rodon, a move that stunned everyone outside the Tar Heel dugout. And then Hobbs Johnson proceeded to outpitch Rodon, the likely top pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, throwing nothing but fastballs in a 7-0 elimination game win.

I don't care that it wasn't close. I don't care that it didn't have a walk-off hit (or a Gio punt return). I don't care that it didn't go extra innings.

All I know is that if you want to live in a world where NC State beats Carolina twice in five days to send them home from Omaha, then I'm not sure we'll ever be friends.

As for the championship wins, the list placed the victories by women's soccer, women's lacrosse and women's tennis in a tie at the top. That's the political answer, and it's true that every national championship victory is impressive.

But for me the best game of 2012-13 was the triple-overtime 13-12 women's lacrosse win over Maryland in the title game.

That's where this story should end: triple overtime in the NCAA title game. That's the only argument I need, Shawn.

But there's another way I know exactly how captivating the first title in school history was for Jenny Levy's team. On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, with plenty of other entertainment options, my entire family sat and watched every minute of the game. My son and I will watch anything with a ball. But my wife and daughter have to be physically pulled away from Bravo and the Food Network (p.s., they're doing amazing things with cupcakes these days).

Collectively, the four of us had no idea about the rules of women's lacrosse. We didn't know why the confirmation of the apparent championship-winning goal was delayed for a stick check. All we knew was that we were tense, and when Sammy Jo Tracy's goal was allowed, we ran around the den and high-fived.

Although we weren't quite sure what had happened, we knew we'd just seen something unique--and the best win of the 2012-13 Carolina sports year.

Adam Lucas is a columnist.


UNC North Carolina General

NCEMC Touchstone Ad 2016