Some time ago I wrote a brief entry outlining a few factoids about NC State’s history in post-season, post-conference tournament play. When you look at the rich history and tradition NC State has, it becomes quickly apparent that a quick-and-dirty review of NC State’s tournament past really doesn’t do NC State’s basketball program justice. NC State is one of the most heralded programs in college basketball. It’s history deserves a bit more attention by it’s fan base. For that reason, I want to expand on what I started a few days ago with a deeper, more detailed look into the program. Rather than barrage the readers of SFN with a 10,000 word essay, we’ll take this in bits and pieces by first looking at the program chronologically, then picking apart a few overall observations. Join us over the next few days until NC State’s Sweet Sixteen match-up against Kansas this Friday at 10:17PM.
Prior to the first championship in 1974, NC State was one of those programs who was extremely talented, yet due to the structure of post-season play had not had as many opportunities to “punch through the ceiling” and bring home championship titles. Prior to 1974, NC State had won 14 conference championships, half of them in the Southern Conference and the other half in the Atlantic Coast Conference. NC State had also been invited to post-season tournaments 9 times, but still without any national titles.
NIT Tournament Appearances. NC State was invited to the NCAA tournament 7 times and the NIT tournament twice. Both NIT tourney bids came when both tournaments only accepted 8 teams. This means that despite being in the NIT tournament, NC State was in one of the 16 best teams in the nation.
Better Then Perfect. In 1948, despite a perfect 12-0 record in the Southern Conference (29-3 overall), NC State missed out on the NCAA tournament and landed playing against a very good DePaul team in the NIT tournament. NC State would lose the contest 75-64.
It’s Lonely At The Top. From NC State’s first NCAA appearance in 1950 until their last before winning a National Championship, the tournament expanded from 8 teams to only 25 teams, nearly a third of what is accepted in today’s NCAA tournament.
Sweet Sixteens The Easy Way. NC State has 11 Sweet Sixteens in program history, but 2 of them come without any post-season effort. In 1965 and 1970, NC State landed in the Sweet Sixteen by gaining a bye in the first-round. Both seasons, NC State would not make it into the Elite Eight.
2012 Connection. This season when NC State would play St. Bonaventure, a few older NC State fans might have had more reason to celebrate than the rest of us; NC State lost in the Sweet Sixteen of the 1970 NCAA tournament by St. Bonaventure 80-68.
Good Enough For a “B”. Prior to 1974, NC State won over 80% of their contests between conference and non-conference opponents in years that they went to post-season play. With only between 8 and 25 teams making the NCAA tournament, NC State never lost more than 10 games to make the NCAA tournament. NC State only have 5 and 3 losses in the 1947 and 1948 season respectively which only landed them in the NIT. During all 9 seasons of post-season play, NC State never lost more than 5 out of 12-15 conference games in a season.
The Best Of The Best. If you consider how far NC State went in their 2 NIT tournaments and 7 NCAA tournaments and resolve them into a ‘ranking’ (for example, making the final four would be ‘one of the top four teams in the nation’), then between the 23 years from 1947 (first NIT appearance) until 1970 (last tournament before 1974), NC State was in the top 15 teams in the nation over the course of their nine post-season tournaments.
A Legacy To Inherit. NC State’s 9 post-season tournaments span over the coaching tenures of 3 NC State coaches: Everett Case, Press Maravich (father of “Pistol Pete” Maravich), and Norm Sloan. Case was responsible for 5 NCAA tournaments and 2 NIT bids, Press Maravich landed NC State in the NCAA tournament for 1 season, and Norm Sloan went to the NCAA tournament once before going on to win the National Championship
Friend Or Foe. During this time, NC State went 6-9 in post season play with victories over St. John’s (NIT), West Virginia (NIT), Holy Cross, Baylor, Villanova, and George Washington as well as losses over Kentucky (NIT), DePaul (NIT), CCNY, Illinois, St. Johns, La Salle, Canisius, Princeton, St. Bonaventure. Canisius’ upset of NC State in 1956 is still considered one of the biggest upsets in the tourney’s history. CCNY who defeated NC State in the 1950 NCAA tourney would later be implicated on point-shaving allegations.
After the 1947-1970 period, NC State would gain national attention by finally landing their first of two National Championships. Often times we glaze over the pre-1974 history of NC State which is really a crime to the rich history of who NC State is. Next time you are remembering the good ole days, or just looking up facts about our past, remember those that built this program and it got it to the point that it could win those trophies and make NC State what it is today.