Carolina Kickoff 2024 (Men’s Div.): How to Watch, Tournament Preview

Kicking off the college season.

North Carolina’s Josh Singleton. Photo: Paul Rutherford —

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After UNC again rolled at last weekend’s women’s Carolina Kickoff, the men’s division takes the spotlight for an early season high-level warm-up. Saturday will give us our first real look at the now back-to-back-to-back college champions, as well as some of the other top Atlantic Coast contenders. There’s even a little treat for the D-III fanatics out there, with a couple of the top programs trekking to the Triangle.

Tournament Profile

  • Date: January 27-28
  • Location: Chapel Hill, NC
  • Weather: Rainy, highs around 60
  • Top 25 teams: 5 (3 D-1, 2 D-III)
  • Score Reporter

Streaming Schedule

All Ultiworld Standard and All-Access subscribers will have access to watch the live broadcasts from this year’s Carolina Kickoff. This is the first time this tournament has been livestreamed!

The broadcast schedule can be found below:

Saturday, January 27

9:45 AM: NC State vs. Penn State
11:30 AM: Duke v. UNC Charlotte
1:15 PM: Lehigh v. Carleton CHOP
3:00 PM: UNC Wilmington v. Indiana

Sunday, January 28

11:30 AM: Quarterfinal
1:15 PM: Semifinal
3:00 PM: Final

Tournament Preview

For the last several years, #1 UNC Darkside has hosted Carolina Kickoff as a way to transition from the exploratory, player development-focused nature of their fall pre-season to implementing the systems and roles that they hope will carry them to a title. This year, expect more of the same. We’ll get our first glimpse of how they’ll set their O- and D-lines (not an easy task considering so much returning talent). Could Kevin Pignone and Rutledge Smith trade places? Is there a spot in the starting line-up for star rookie Seth Fried? What kind of expanded roles might go to players like Sam Redinbo and Grayson Trowbridge, who have operated a bit out of the spotlight? How will they deploy Noah Krumme? There are plenty of questions about Darkside 2024 – but none of them are whether they can win this tournament, which they should do without much in the way of trouble.

#19 NC State Alpha have been a consistent presence as the Atlantic Coast region’s best-of-the-rest. Whether Suhas Madiraju, Sean Wiles, Daniel Ferriter & co. can keep that mantle as they aim for a fifth consecutive appearance at Nationals is probably the most interesting storyline to watch at Kickoff. Alpha, who did not earn a bid for the AC in 2023 but stole the one earned by UNC Charlotte Skyrise, will want to put together a stronger regular season in 2024. Standing in their way, both this weekend and, presumably, at Regionals later this spring: UNC Charlotte, UNC Wilmington Seamen, Duke Brimstone, and #25 South Carolina Gamecock Ultimate. All of them return formidable talent: Xander Wilcox and Albert Yuan for Duke; Ben Simmons and Christopher Saacks for UNC Charlotte; Stewart Kelley, Diego Collazo, and Christian Belus (just to name their sophomore trio) for UNC Wilmington; and Jaida King and Tyler Catton for South Carolina. Will it be enough to score a win off of a deeper Alpha program?

There has been a little bit of buzz around Penn State Spank as a potential second bid-earner out of the Ohio Valley after last year’s runner-up finish in the one bid region. Kickoff is where they will begin to either prove or disprove the believers. Finally, there will be some inter-regional connectivity established in D3, as #22 Carleton CHOP make the long journey to Chapel Hill, where they will potentially face #20 Davidson DUFF.

  1. Edward Stephens
    Edward Stephens

    Edward Stephens has an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. He writes and plays ultimate in Athens, Georgia.

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