Tournament Factoids Part 2: Prepare For Glory!

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.

If you didn’t see yesterday’s article on “The Early Years“, please take a moment to honor the accomplishments of those that are so often over-looked.

In 1974, as most of you know, NC State went on to win it’s first National Championship after 9 years, over the span of 23 seasons, of making post-season play without success.  What NC State’s coaches, players, and fans knew about the talent in Raleigh came to fruition.  This success would be duplicated in 1983 by an unexpected NC State team that had barely broke even in ACC play and suffered a season of set-backs.  This success would continue until the false allegations of Jimmy Valvano in 1989 and his resignation from NC State as athletic director followed by his firing at head coach at NC State.

Win, Baby, Win.  From 1974 until 1989, a span of 15 years, NC State went on to post-season play 12 years (80%).  Compare this to the 9 out of 23 years (~40%) of post-season play prior to 1974.  Only 3 of the tournaments would be NIT bids.  Teams that made the NIT in those days would be the equivalent to bottom-seeded NCAA teams today.

Perfection Achieved.  In 1974, Norm Sloan led NC State to a perfect ACC record and only a single loss overall.  They would also defeat UCLA in the NCAA tournament semi-finals who were consecutive 9-times defending National Champions.  Note: The 1973 team did not go to the NCAA tournament due to an ‘illegal tryout’ which was little more than David Thompson playing a game of pick-up at Carmichael.  This series is only about performance during post-season play, but as one commentor pointed out, this probably begs mentioning.  This team went 27-0 on the season.

Planting Seeds Of Success.  After the NCAA introduced seeding to the NCAA tournament in the late 1970’s, NC State held an average seed of (~)#5 from 1980 through 1989 out of a variation of 12-16 possible seeds.  NC State’s best seed was #3 which it earned in 1985 after a 23-10 (9-5) season and again in 1988 after a 22-9 (10-4) season.  The former of the two seasons would result in a deep run to the Elite Eight only to lose to #1 seeded St. John’s.  The latter would be prematurely ended by an upset to #14 Murray St.

A Winning Record.  During this time, NC State held an overall record in post-season play of 23-10.  That is the equivalent of NC State playing an entire extra season during post-season play, alone, over the course of 15 years.  A 23-10 record would match the best regular season record NC State has experienced since 2001.

David Or Goliath?  To win the National Championship in 1974, Norm Sloan had to ‘upset’ dynasty UCLA who had previously won 9-consecutive National Championships and would go on to win it against in 1975.  Again, in 1983 when Jimmy Valvano beat Houston in the title game, NC State was a 6-seed compared to Houston’s 1 seed.  For comparison, that would be the same as San Diego State, Murray St, Cincy, or UNLV going on to beat Kentucky in the 2012 National Title game.  However, NC State was also heavily favored in 1988 (seeded #3) when they lost to #14 Murray State.  That is still considered one of the biggest upsets in tourney history.  NC State would be upset only 3 times over 12 post-season appearances from 1974-1989.

Success Embodied In A Man.  While Norm Sloan and Everett Case were equal and very arguably more successful coaches to Jimmy Valvano, Jimmy Valvano’s tenure is enveloped within the ‘glory days’ of NC State.  During the 1974 – 1989 15 year stretch, Jimmy Valvano’s tenure represents nearly a 2/3’s of that era.  He went on to lead NC State into post-season play 9 out of 10 seasons during this period.  Almost immediately his tenure, NC State would see a dramatic drop-off in their success.  On his watch, NC State would only fail to go to the NCAA tournament twice.

Conference-To-Tournament Disconnects.  Only twice out of the 12 post-season tournaments did NC State fail to produce a winning record in conference play (1984, 4-10 and 1987, 6-8).  One of those seasons (1984) NC State would only make the NIT and lose in the first round.  The other seasons (1987), NC State would lose in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  NC State’s deepest runs between 1974 and 1983 would be with unsuspecting teams that had conference records of 7-5, 8-6, 9-5, and 7-7.  The exception would be the 1974 team which went 12-0.  NC State’s best seasons in conference play, 1988 and 1989 with ACC records of 10-4, NC State would make the NCAA tournament and make the Sweet 16 one season and lose in the first round the other.

 Winners and Losers.  Over this span, NC State’s victories were over Providence (x2), Pittsburgh, UCLA, Marquette, Holy Cross, South Carolina (x2), Detroit, Georgetown, Pepperdine, UNLV, Utah, Virginia, Georgia, Houston, Nevada Reno, UTEP, Alabama, Iowa (x2), Arkansas – Little Rock, and Iowa State.  Our loses were to Charlotte, Texas, Iowa, UT – Chattanooga, Florida State, St. John’s, Kanses, Florida, Murray St, and Georgetown.  This means that overall, NC State was 2-0 over USC and 1-1 against Georgetown.  NC State would only meet one period ACC team in post season play (Virginia in 1983) and would win that contest.  All-time ACC teams met included South Carolina (x2), Virginia, and Florida State.  The only team to beat NC State would be Florida State in the first round of the NIT tournament in 1984.

During this period, NC State would not win as regularly as they did under Case, Maravich, and the first part of Sloan’s tenure, but they still won 60% of their ACC contests and 70% overall.  In today’s scheduling, that would be an average record of 22-9 overall and 10-6 in the ACC.  NC State would enjoy this period until the false allegations written about by Peter Golenbock in “Personal Fouls”, highlighting the problems with men’s basketball using NC State as a use-case.  Though NC State voluntarily invited the NCAA to investigate their program and no proof of major infractions was found, the decision was made to remove Jimmy Valvano from NC State which would plunge the basketball program into the dark ages as well as set-back the entire athletic department for several years.

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14 Responses to Tournament Factoids Part 2: Prepare For Glory!

  1. Trout 03/20/2012 at 9:29 AM #

    Perfection Achieved – need to mention the 1973 team that finished 27-0. The NCAA handed down a 1 year postseason ban for an illegal tryout of David Thompson (Thompson was in Carmichael playing a pickup game, and Asst Coach Eddie Biedenbach was in the building), and for Thompson spending the night in a current players dorm room. Yes, the NCAA handed down the same penalty for THAT as they did to UNC for multiple infractions including academic fraud, having an assistant coach as agent’s runner, payments to players and failure to monitor.

    That ’73 team was really, really good.

    NCStatePride: Agreed. This series is exclusively about our post-season play and not about the teams in general. There were many outstanding teams, especially prior to 1974, that didn’t go to either the NCAA or NIT tournaments, but with our success this season a study of NCAA and NIT squads seemed timely. Still, I added an acknowledgement of the 1973 team to the article. Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Trout 03/20/2012 at 9:41 AM #

    ^ Gotcha. That team should have gone to the NCAA though. Everything about that probation should have been deemed minor infractions.

    The twist in the plot: the NCAA investigator was Bill Guthridge’s college roommate.

    Oh, and in the NCAA infraction report, the last line states: “BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that record be made of the excellent assistance and cooperation extended to the NCAA and its Committee on Infractions by North Carolina State University and the commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference.”

  3. Trout 03/20/2012 at 9:44 AM #

    And really great stuff, BTW. I have enjoyed this review, although I’m thinking I wont enjoy Part 3: 1990 and beyond.

  4. ADVENTUROO 03/20/2012 at 10:09 AM #


    Supposedly, as reported here (mythical or otherwise), the NCAA investigator flew in a day early to golf with Bill G. and catch up on old times. In addition, the lore is that Dean (Bill G.?) was responible for reporting the pick-up game between Thompson and Eddie Biedenbach (UNC-A coach and former NCSU player and also my Freshman ROTC Platoon Sergeant). SO, the lore lives on….

  5. 4in12 03/20/2012 at 10:50 AM #

    “In 1974, Norm Sloan led NC State to a perfect ACC record and only a single loss overall. They would also defeat UCLA in the NCAA tournament…”

    The one loss was a regular season loss to UCLA. We won the one that mattered though.

    Interesting side note – the losers of the NCAA semi-finals used to play for third and fourth place. That year UCLA refused to play. The consolation game was dropped after that.

  6. 44rules 03/20/2012 at 11:26 AM #

    That 1987 team got hot late and won the ACC Tourney. Thank you Del Negro (“Vinny doesn’t play because I’m Italian. He plays because he’s Italian”), Bolton, Q. Jackson, and Kelsey Weems’ last-minute D denying Kenny Smith the ball.

  7. highstick 03/20/2012 at 3:20 PM #

    I’ve often wondered if the 73 may have been actually better, but no reason to go there…When Joe Cafferky “dunked” on the last play of the ACC Tourney(drawing a technical because no dunking was allowed), it put the exclamation point on “who was the best team” in the ACC that year!

    TB matured a good bit in 74 so comparing the two is very difficult.

  8. TLeo 03/20/2012 at 3:30 PM #

    That ’73 team would have won it all, IMO, if not for that BS ncaa violation. Interestingly, I could be wrong but didn’t unc violate that same rule a few years ago as well by having a pickup game with coaches and obama present? No favoritism my ass!

  9. kool k 03/20/2012 at 5:23 PM #

    Pretty sure UNC-Chapel Hill played an out of season scrimmage with Obama in ’08 while Roy Williams watched. Is this not a violation?

  10. ancsu87 03/20/2012 at 5:34 PM #

    Should also be noted that Duke was put on probation for the recruitment of David Thompson (any one want to guess where the initial info to the NCAA came from and who else was recruiting him?).

    Also remember that both NC State and UNC were put on probation in the 1950’s for issues under Frank McGuire and Everett Case. However NC State got severe penalties and UNC got a slap on wrist (1- year probation) even though it was widely acknowledged that McGuire ran a shady program and had NY mob connections while Case admitted to shortfalls and promised to clean them up.

    Any new NC State students, alumni, or fans should not wonder where the ABC attitude comes from just do the historical research.

    However I am hijacking the point of this post….proceed ahead.

  11. Texpack 03/20/2012 at 5:42 PM #

    Cafferky’s dunk was just after the buzzer so no tech was issued IIRC. (My memory loss is LT your memory loss)

  12. Wufpacker 03/20/2012 at 6:31 PM #

    Don’t forget that in 1974, in the Pack’s first game of the tournament, the championship was thought to already be lost for a short time when David Thompson went up high for a rebound, lost his balance in midair, and took a header into the floor. I was only a kid then, but I remember thinking he was dead. I’ve since had quite a few folks (who were adults at the time) tell me they thought the same thing.

    Mourning turned into jubilation when he returned a short time later with his head bandaged.

  13. 61Packer 03/20/2012 at 8:11 PM #

    Although UCLA’s players didn’t want to play Kansas in the ’74 consolation game, John Wooden was their coach, and they did play that game, and of course won it.

    I think the consolation game survived until around 1980 or 1981.

  14. Hawkeye Whitney 03/20/2012 at 9:04 PM #

    I remember the ’88 loss to Murray State very well. I had never even heard of that school before. It was a very sad day in Bragaw dorm.

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