Armando Bacot, Caleb Love Shine as Blue Beats White in 2021 UNC Midnight Madness

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVOctober 16, 2021

CHAPEL HILL, NC - APRIL 06: Hubert Davis speaks at a press conference introducing him as the new men's head basketball coach at the University of North Carolina at Dean E. Smith Center on April 6, 2021 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Jeffrey Camarati/Getty Images)
Jeffrey Camarati/Getty Images

Let the new era of North Carolina Tar Heels basketball begin.

The Tar Heels held their Midnight Madness event Friday at the Dean E. Smith Center and welcomed the start of the 2021-22 basketball season by introducing fans to the members of the men's and women's teams.

There was also a scrimmage for the men's team, and Armando Bacot and Caleb Love spearheaded a 60-45 victory for the Blue Team over the White Team.

The biggest storyline surrounding North Carolina this season is the start of the Hubert Davis era for the men's side after legendary head coach Roy Williams retired in April. Williams led the Tar Heels for 18 seasons after coaching the Kansas Jayhawks for 15 and built one of the best resumes in college basketball history.

All he did at UNC was win three national championships, reach five Final Fours, capture nine ACC regular-season titles and win three ACC tournaments.

Carolina Basketball @UNC_Basketball

The legacy continues ๐Ÿ™Œ<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CarolinaFamily?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CarolinaFamily</a> <a href="https://t.co/5pBSTyYJf4">pic.twitter.com/5pBSTyYJf4</a>

Those are big shoes for Davis to fill, and fans got to meet his new team Friday. They also had the chance to return to the famous Dean E. Smith Center without many of the attendance restrictions that were in place last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The support system we have is something unmatchedโ€”it's like our fans are a whole second family," Malu Tshitenge, who is a forward on the women's team, said, per the athletic department's official website. "I'm so excited to have the fans back in the stands."

Big man Armando Bacot echoed that sentiment:

"For me it's gonna be like a blast from the past. But for a lot of the newer guys who have not gotten a chance to play in the Smith Center with fans, I told them this will be the most people you have ever gotten to play in front of in your whole life, so soak it in. I'm glad to have gotten a feeling of it earlier versus getting thrown out there in games and playing in front of all those people. It's going to be fun."

Here is some of what those fans saw Friday:

Carolina Basketball @UNC_Basketball

Carolina Basketball is ๐—•๐—”๐—–๐—ž ๐Ÿ˜<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CarolinaFamily?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CarolinaFamily</a> <a href="https://t.co/H1jKYr0geD">pic.twitter.com/H1jKYr0geD</a>

Carolina Women's Basketball @uncwbb

Tar Heels know how to make an entrance ๐Ÿ˜<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoHeels?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoHeels</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/InPursuit?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#InPursuit</a> <a href="https://t.co/aaFVq66bo2">pic.twitter.com/aaFVq66bo2</a>

InsideCarolina @InsideCarolina

Late Night has begun <a href="https://t.co/574fBgRzEd">pic.twitter.com/574fBgRzEd</a>

Carolina Women's Basketball @uncwbb

๐Ÿคฉ Squad Goals ๐Ÿคฉ<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoHeels?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoHeels</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/InPursuit?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#InPursuit</a> <a href="https://t.co/1M49UiH3Ev">pic.twitter.com/1M49UiH3Ev</a>

Tar Heel Illustrated @HeelIllustrated

โ€œHeโ€™s one of the nicest people Iโ€™ve ever known in my life, but on top of that heโ€™s one of the most intensely competitive.โ€ โ€“ Roy Williams in a video message talking about Hubert

Tar Heel Illustrated @HeelIllustrated

Hubert getting emotional as the fans cheer him. Standing at center court, waiting for the roar to stop. He needed to because he appeared to be choking up.

Tar Heel Illustrated @HeelIllustrated

โ€œTonight is about you guys, tonight is about the unbelievable Carolina fans. And tonight is about UNC basketball.โ€ - Hubert

Carolina Women's Basketball @uncwbb

๐ŸŒŠ ๐ŸŒŠ ๐ŸŒŠ <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoHeels?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoHeels</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/InPursuit?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#InPursuit</a> <a href="https://t.co/mSVg9HSCoH">pic.twitter.com/mSVg9HSCoH</a>

There was some competitiveness on the floor as well, and RJ Davis caught fire during the three-point contest and drained 19 triples from the top of the key in 45 seconds.

Davis also did his best to lead the White Team in the scrimmage with 14 points, but his side was overmatched in the loss to the Blue Team. Bacot and Love each scored 18 for the victors.

It isn't particularly surprising Bacot and Love led the way considering they were the Tar Heels' top two scorers last season.

Bacot averaged 12.3 points and 7.8 boards per night, while Love averaged 10.5 points and 3.6 assists per game.

They will both be critical if North Carolina is going to bounce back from last season's disappointment when it lost by 23 points in the first round of the NCAA men's tournament in a showdown with No. 9-seeded Wisconsin.

The men's team starts the new season Nov. 9 against Loyola (Md.), while the women's team opens the campaign on the same day against North Carolina A&T.


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