Wolfpack Flashback: A Night to Remember

Brett Friedlander

The only Madness going on this March is taking place off the court, with the NCAA tournament cancelled in response to the growing coronavirus crisis. With no actual games to report on, SI All Wolfpack is looking back in time to remember some of NC State's best postseason games from the past. On this date, the Wolfpack brought home its first national championship with a win against Marquette.

Everyone remembers where they were in 1980 when the U.S. Olympic hockey team pulled off its "Miracle on Ice" by beating the mighty Soviets in Lake Placid.

But what most don't remember is that the young Americans still had to come back two nights later to beat Finland before putting the gold medals around their necks.

It's a similar situation to the one faced by the NC State basketball team six years earlier.

The Wolfpack's signature victory in 1974 was a double-overtime thriller against UCLA that ended the Bruins' run of seven straight national championships. But like the U.S. hockey team, it still had one more game to win after that.

It came on this date, March 25, against Marquette at Greensboro Coliseum.

Led by David Thompson's 21 points, the Wolfpack beat the Warriors 76-64 to win the first national title in any sport in school history.

Point guard Monte Towe added 16 points while Tommy Burleson and Moe Rivers had 14 points each, with Burleson bringing down 11 rebounds for State.

Those performances, however, have become mere footnotes to history thanks to the more memorable antics of firey Marquette coach Al McGuire. 

A pair of technicals on McGuire in the final 2 1/2 minutes helped change the complexion of the game, sparking a 10-point turnaround that saw the Wolfpack turn a 28-27 deficit into a 39-30 halftime lead.

The first technical came when McGuire protested a charging foul called on Marcus Washington after he scored to give the Warriors the lead. The second came when he ran out onto the court after Bo Ellis was called for goaltending on a shot by Phil Spence.

State built on the momentum in the second half and was never challenged on the way cutting down the nets.

The national title victory was one of three games the Wolfpack has played on March 25. The first was a 78-73 loss to eventual national champion City College of New York in a 1950 regional final at Madison Square Garden. The other came in 2005, when State was beaten 65-56 by Wisconsin in an East Region semifinal at Syracuse's Carrier Dome.

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Brett Friedlander

Brett Friedlander