Each March, the air becomes full of lists, “look backs” and NCAA nostalgia. Last year we highlighted that NC State dominates one writer’s All-Time Comeback List. This year, we add to the mix NC State’s presence in the 63 Greatest Tournament Games ever played with 3 of the top 34 games.
One game that I believe deserves consideration when having these conversations and almost all media outlets forget was the Wolfpack’s 1989 double overtime thrilling win over Iowa in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. I believe that the controversy in the following game vs Georgetown ultimately commands so much attention that fans forget Rodney Monroe’s incredible performance in the Pack’s 102-96 win vs the Hawkeyes.
3. 1983 Championship Game (North Carolina State 54, Houston 52)
Sophomore forward Lorenzo Charles scored only four points, but two of them came when he converted guard Dereck Whittenburg’s off-line desperation shot from well beyond the top of the free-throw circle into a decisive dunk as North Carolina State upset heavily-favored Houston. The Cougars, featuring Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, entered the final with a 26-game winning streak.
13. 1974 National Semifinals (North Carolina State 80, UCLA 77 in 2OT)
The final in N.C. State’s home state at Greensboro was anticlimatic after the Wolfpack avenged an 18-point loss to UCLA earlier in the season on a neutral court by ending the Bruins’ 38-game playoff winning streak. N.C. State erased an 11-point deficit midway through the second half and a seven-point deficit in the second extra session behind David Thompson’s 28 points and 10 rebounds to halt UCLA’s string of seven consecutive NCAA championships.
34. 1983 West Regional First Round (N.C. State 69, Pepperdine 67 in 2OT)
NCAA champion-to-be N.C. State defeated Pepperdine in two extra sessions after trailing by six points with 24 seconds remaining in regulation.
BEST TEAMS NOT TO GO TO THE BIG DANCE
Kentucky ’54 (25-0)–Declined bid after being put on probation the previous season.
Maryland ’74 (23-5)–Len Elmore, John Lucas and Tom McMillen certainly could have cut the nets down if more than one team from a conference was allowed to participate in the tourney.
N.C. State ’73 (27-0)–The Wolfpack, led by David Thompson, defeated league NCAA representative Maryland a total of three times while on probation.
Southern California ’71 (24-2)–Outstanding club unfortunately had to play in the shadows of mighty UCLA.
La Salle ’69 (23-1)–Many fans outside the East might not remember the probation-bound Explorers, led by Ken Durrett and Larry Cannon, but they were tough as nails.