Wolfpack Flashback: Different Rules, Same Result

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 knocked off Ralph Sampson and Virginia for the second time in three weeks to earn a trip to the 1983 Final Four.

When NC State beat Virginia in the 1983 ACC tournament championship, the game was played using experimental rules including a shot clock and three-point line.

Two weeks later, the Wolfpack and Cavaliers met again in Ogden, Utah in the NCAA West Region Final. 

This time the game was played using the traditional rules of the time, a change National Player of the Year Ralph Sampson and his teammates believed would work to their advantage.

It didn't matter, though. 

While Sampson scored 23 points and 11 rebounds, Dereck Whittenburg did him one better. With or without the three-point shot, the State sharpshooter hit for 24 points -- almost all coming from long range -- to lead State to a 63-62.

The game was played on this date and remains the only time the Wolfpack has played on March 26.

As was the case in most of State's wins on the way to the national championship, this one went down to wire. And coach Jim Valvano's Cardiac Pack had to come from behind to pull it off.

The Wolfpack trailed by seven with 7 1/2 minutes remaining, but climbed back into contention thanks to Whittenburg's shooting. He ended up going 11 of 16 from the floor, but it was the one shot he decided not to take that proved to be the most decisive.

State trailed by one in the final minute when the senior guard penetrated to the basket. When Virginia's defense collapsed on him, preventing him from getting to the rim, he decided to pass the ball to teammate Lorenzo Charles rather than risk getting called for a charge.

Charles was fouled with 23 seconds left to put the Wolfpack ahead.

But even then, State had to survive a frantic finish before celebrating its trip to the Final Four and its date with destiny.

First Virginia's Tim Mullen missed from the top of the circle. Then after Othell Wilson got the rebound in the lane, he missed too. This time Cozell McQueen came away with the loose ball to salt away the victory that denied the 7-foot-4 Sampson the one thing he didn't accomplish in his celebrated college career.

Instead, it was State that earned the opportunity to play for the national championship a week later in Albuquerque, N.M.

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