Tournament Factoids Part 1: The Early Years

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.

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30 Responses to Tournament Factoids Part 1: The Early Years

  1. SMD 03/19/2012 at 2:24 PM #

    That’s great stuff. I’ve got a question along those lines.

    Why don’t we have a banner for the 1950 Final Four? I might be wrong, as I don’t spend every game at the RBC (oops, PNC) looking up there, but I don’t remember having one.

  2. Wufpacker 03/19/2012 at 2:27 PM #

    Not only do a lot of folks gloss over, or even ignore, our rather successful pre-1974 past, but they also like to belittle the 7 conference championships from the Southern Conference. They fail to realize that this was not the Southern Conference we know today, but rather was comprised mostly of teams which currently make up not only the ACC, but the SEC as well.

  3. daughtry 03/19/2012 at 2:33 PM #

    SMD, the old attitude is that only championships get hung in the rafters. Although, that could have changed since my last game there. After all, now we need to make an effort to stand out in a ceiling covered with hockey crap.

  4. SMD 03/19/2012 at 2:38 PM #

    @Daughtry – that’s how it was in Reynolds, however, I do know that since we moved to the new place, we have banners for basic NCAA appearances, Sweet 16s, etc.

    Given that we have changed to apparently list more accomplishments – as most schools do, it seems random that we don’t have Final 4 banners. As I write this, I can’t remember whether we have Final 4 banners for 74 and 83, but I know we don’t have one for 1950.

  5. Trout 03/19/2012 at 2:41 PM #

    I think there is a 1950 Final 4 banner.

    I’ve heard many people claim that the 1956 Wolfpack was the one team that should have won the NCAA title. However, we experienced what UNC is going through now. Ronnie Shavlick, our All-American, broke a wrist during the ACC tournament. We won the tournament, but Shavlick, wearing a cast, was ineffective in the NCAAT, and we lost. That was really the last chance Case had, and maybe his best team, because we went on probation for a few years due to the Jackie Moreland case. We won the ACC, with a very good team, in 1959, but were unable to go to the NCAAT.

  6. SMD 03/19/2012 at 2:52 PM #

    I would go with Trout’s memory over mine. 😛

  7. Trout 03/19/2012 at 2:52 PM #

    I always appreciate that SFN always reminds us about our great history. Something Gott has done as well, while also creating history of his own!

  8. GAWolf 03/19/2012 at 3:06 PM #

    The NIT used to be a better gig than the NCAA tournament. I think that might be why that ’48 team was in the NIT. Though I could be wrong…

  9. Gene 03/19/2012 at 3:19 PM #

    “CCNY who defeated NC State in the 1950 NCAA tourney would later be implicated on point-shaving allegations.”

    CCNY won the NCAA title that year. We won 3rd vs. 4th place consolation game.

    Shortly after winning the NCAA title most of the NYC schools were implicated in point shaving, which basically caused the NYC schools to lop of basketball/athletics programs.

    St. John’s sort of held out and had some success, but CCNY stopped playing basketball all together.

  10. Gene 03/19/2012 at 3:21 PM #

    “I think there is a 1950 Final 4 banner. ”

    I believe the banner not only states we were in the Final Four but won the consolation game for the “bronze medal” that year.

  11. moreforw 03/19/2012 at 3:24 PM #

    We were undefeated in 1973 right?

  12. Hawkeye Whitney 03/19/2012 at 3:24 PM #

    In addition to the accomplishments, NC State also had the best facilities, Reynolds was state of the art based on any national comparison. I am glad we still play a few throwback games in Reynolds each season.

  13. cowboyjkly 03/19/2012 at 3:28 PM #

    NC State is the best period

  14. Hungwolf 03/19/2012 at 3:59 PM #

    We have great tradition. Years ago we expected to beat Duke most all the time, we expected to beat UNC, and Wake was a gimmie! Losing to Clemson was unacceptable and we feared SC as much as anyone.

    I hope we beat Kansas and get another shot at UNC with refs that will call it fair. As far as UNC, didn’t it seem very overboard for Roy to clear the media and everyone out of the locker room to tell the players about Marshall hand injury? Guess Roy hasn’t heard the V speech about never giving up.

  15. Trout 03/19/2012 at 4:06 PM #

    Funny, my son was watching the news and asked if they celebrated when I was at State like the fans did that greeted the team last night. Honestly, I told him no, because going to the NCAAT and having success, when I was there from 85-89, was considered an expectation.

    Having said that, the fans that were there last night get my hat-tip of the day. I was moved by the display of passion, loyalty and gratitude. Also, thankful that those players (and the current students) have gotten the chance to have this experience.

  16. sandlapper 03/19/2012 at 4:30 PM #


    I don’t remember all the details, but getting a first round bye in the tournament in the 60s was a result of conference W-L records. That gave incentive to win the consolation games, thus helping any ACC team the next year.

  17. packof81 03/19/2012 at 5:15 PM #

    “I am glad we still play a few throwback games in Reynolds each season.”

    I wish we played all our games there instead of, what is it now, the PNC center where you PNC the game.

  18. UpstateSCWolfpack 03/19/2012 at 5:18 PM #

    Great history lesson, I have to admit I didn’t know a lot of this. The Gottfather has it going on, he has respect for the past, and a great desire to add the next chapter. He is going to be here for a long time and is going to hang some championship banners at the PNC. We will beat Kansas on Friday night, for a slot in the Elite 8. Side note, but did anyone else notice Swofford sitting two seats away from the holes bench on Sunday? Not sure that is normal or not, since the ACC was the host.

  19. highstick 03/19/2012 at 5:40 PM #

    Don’t ever say “only the NIT” back then because you’re talking about a totally different, and much more respected tourney.

    The ACC had a first round bye into EASTERN REGIONALS back then because of prior CONFERENCE performance. We won the right to go by winning the ACC tourney. There was no regular season championship, only the tourney. To say that there was no effort is incorrect…Ask Tommy Maddox and
    Van Williford…

    We lost to a very good Princeton team in 65 led by Bill Bradley who played for the Knicks(when they were really good) and later a politician.

    The 70 upset a very good South Carolina team in the tourney and then went to the NCAA’s. Led by Van Williford and crew..

  20. wirogers 03/19/2012 at 6:16 PM #

    As usual, SFN writers do a great job with their articles. Another idea, since it has changed greatly over the years, would be to add a list, table, or article detailing the number of teams in each tournament and how teams where selected or allowed to go to each tournament. Many younger people do not remember these days.

  21. highstick 03/19/2012 at 6:32 PM #

    True WI….It was a totally different process back then. One of the reasons some of the other conferences refused to have a tourney is that they didn’t like the “Winner Take All” result.

    It backfired on the team in the ACC with the best season record several times. I’m going to find the link on the Old NIT, but it was highly respected.

  22. highstick 03/19/2012 at 6:38 PM #

    From Wiki:::

    The post-season NIT, started in 1938, pre-dates the NCAA Tournament by one year and is second in age only to the NAIA Tournament, which was founded by James Naismith in 1937. This first National Invitation Tournament was won by the Temple University Owls over Colorado.

    The NIT was originated by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association in 1938. Responsibility for its administration was transferred two years later to local colleges, first known as the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Committee and in 1948, as the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Association (MIBA), which comprised representatives from five New York City schools: Fordham University, Manhattan College, New York University, St. John’s University and Wagner College. Originally all of the teams qualifying for the tournament were invited to New York City, and all games were played at Madison Square Garden.

    The men’s tournament originally consisted of only 6 teams, which later expanded to 8 teams in 1941, 12 teams in 1949, 14 teams in 1965, 16 teams in 1968, 24 teams in 1979, 32 teams in 1980, and 40 teams from 2002 through 2006. The tournament reverted to 32 teams for 2007.[2]

    In the tournaments’ early years, the NIT often drew some of the nation’s best collegiate basketball teams for several reasons. First, there was limited national media coverage of college basketball, therefore playing in “The Big Apple” provided tremendous media exposure for the team and players. This facilitated coaches exposure to the rich recruiting territory of New York City and allowed for players hoping for a shot at the NBA an opportunity to play before scouts in the largely east coast dominated league. Additionally, the NCAA was originally a tournament mostly among conference winners. Thus, the slots were limited as teams were selected from conferences and regional champions and multiple teams from the same conferences were not allowed. In addition, many Eastern teams, who were mainly independents, preferred the reduced travel of playing closer to home in the NIT.[citation needed]

    During the NIT’s first 15 years or so, the winners were hailed as National Champions by some,[citation needed] and dispute surrounded which tournament champion was superior.[citation needed] The Helms Athletic Foundation, which independently selected an annual college basketball national champion, chose the NIT champion over the NCAA champion only once, in 1939,[3] while selecting neither tournament champion three times (1940, 1944, 1954). In addition, from 1943 to 1945 during World War II, the American Red Cross sponsored a game between that year’s NCAA and NIT champions to raise money for the war effort. In all three years that the charity contest was played, the NCAA champion prevailed.[4]

    Several teams played in both tournaments in the same year. Duquesne in 1940 was the first to do so. In 1944 and 1948, the NCAA tournament champions lost their first games in the NIT tournament.[5] In 1950, City College of New York won both the NIT and the NCAA tournaments in the same season and remains the only school to accomplish that feat. By the late 1960s, however, the NCAA tournament was becoming the unquestioned premier college tournament. The NCAA began expanding the field to include more teams, and over time the NIT was relegated more and more to its current status as a “consolation” tournament. However, as late as 1970, Coach Al McGuire of Marquette, the 8th-ranked team in the final AP poll of the season, spurned an NCAA bid in protest of his team’s placement in the Midwest Region, where his team would have to play games farther away from home than it would if it were in the Mideast Region.[6] The team played in the NIT instead, which it won. Such an action would be a violation of NCAA rules today, which prohibits the rejection of NCAA tournament bids.

    To date, the NIT is the only postseason basketball tournament whose champion has later been forced to give up the title. Three NIT champions–Michigan in 1997, Minnesota in 1998 and St. John’s in 2003–were subsequently found to have ineligible players and were forced to vacate their titles

    Be sure to read the full link, particularly about Al McGuire turning down the NcAA to play in the NIT. We need more coaches with guts like Al now!

  23. Gene 03/19/2012 at 8:01 PM #

    “I wish we played all our games there instead of, what is it now, the PNC center where you PNC the game.”

    Don’t knock the ESA/RBC/PNC center. It’s a nice stadium, plus it is a big plus for recruiting.

    Kids today, they just don’t like old the way old folks do.

  24. highstick 03/19/2012 at 10:08 PM #

    I don’t knock the younger crowd for that reason. Heck, they missed out on “the best of times” watching the game evolve. I feel fortunate to have been around to watch. I’m not a big fan of today’s game though because of a number of things. We gripe about the officials, but we don’t demand that the officials call the game by the rulebook. Ignoring the rules of the game changes everything and makes stars out of folks who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time just because they can jump and shoot..But they travel, carry the ball, push off, flop, etc. in the process. Does that make a star to be compared to a DT, Bill Russell, Earl Monroe, etc?…I don’t think so…

    The sad part is that we have 15-20(or more) years of State students who really don’t understand all of the details(which are very important)of our history or really of the ACC. But, you can’t just read the internet and absorb all of the history of ACC basketball either anymore that I can read a few articles on the Civil War and become an expert. I hated history at State my freshman year. Maybe you have to be “old enough to be historical” before you really appreciate it.

  25. PackerInRussia 03/19/2012 at 11:48 PM #

    “We were undefeated in 1973 right?”

    Yes. 27-0, won the ACCT. Couldn’t participate in the post-season b/c of sanctions.
    This ( has a nice little overview complete with some pictures.

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