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A third consecutive field hockey national championship and eight other teams’ top-10 national finishes in NCAA post-season competition propelled Carolina to a fourth-place finish in the 2020-21 Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup.
It is the 22nd time Carolina has placed in the top 10 in the 27-year history of the multisport competition and marks the 19th time UNC has the highest national finish among Atlantic Coast Conference schools, goheels.com reported. Carolina’s top-10 finishes equal the total number of top 10s by all other ACC schools combined.
The Directors’ Cup — which announced the final standings Friday — awards points based on NCAA postseason success. Each school may accumulate points in 19 sports — four of which must be baseball, men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball.
Carolina amassed 1,126.25 points in this year’s rankings, just one-quarter of a point behind Michigan, which was third. The University of Texas won with 1,252 points, becoming the first school to beat Stanford for the top spot since UNC won the inaugural trophy in 1993-94. Stanford totaled 1,195.75 points. (No winner was declared in 2019-20 due to the pandemic).
The fourth-place finish is Carolina’s highest since 2009, when the Tar Heels were second overall. This is the 10th season UNC finished in the top five, including its third fourth-place showing (along with 2002 and 2006). The ACC’s overall average finish this season was 38th place.
The Carolina field hockey team earned 100 points for the Tar Heels in the standings by defeating Michigan in overtime to win the program’s ninth national championship.
Five UNC teams — men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s tennis — reached the NCAA semifinals, tied for third place and scored 83 points apiece. Men’s golf added 72.75 points after tying for fifth (its highest finish at the NCAA Championship in 28 years), fencing contributed 72 points following its best-ever sixth-place performance and men’s tennis earned 64 points by tying for ninth.
Five other sports finished in the top 20: women’s swimming and diving was 12th, women’s cross country was 14th, wrestling was 16th, football was 17th and men’s indoor track and field was 18th.
Baseball (33rd), men’s basketball (33rd), women’s basketball (33rd) and women’s outdoor track and field (40th) each contributed at least 25 points to UNC’s total.
Carolina’s 22 top-10 Directors’ Cup finishes ranks it fourth overall. Only Stanford (27), Florida (27) and UCLA (24) have more. Virginia is next among ACC schools with eight.
Carolina led the ACC in the standings for the 19th time. No other school has led the ACC more than three times (Duke and Florida State both three times; Notre Dame and Virginia once each). Carolina’s average Cup finish is seventh place. Virginia is second among ACC schools with an average finish of 15.5.