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March 21, 2012

NC State's history in the Sweet 16




NC State basketball has officially played in 13 regional semifinal games in the history of the NCAA Tournament. Since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, the Wolfpack has appeared in the Sweet 16 four times. The Red and White also took part in the round of 16 during the 1983 edition of the tournament en route to winning the 52-team field.

With the Pack playing in the Sweet 16 once again on Friday, The Wolfpacker takes a look back at the previous five trips to the regional semifinals for the program.

1983 West Region Semifinal: NC State 75, Utah 56


The sixth-seeded Wolfpack traveled to Ogden, Utah, to take on tenth-seeded Utah. Dereck Whittenburg tallied 27 points and the late Lorenzo Charles chipped in 18 to lead the way for NC State, who would eventually win the National Championship over heavily-favored Houston. Thurl Bailey also had a big game and just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine boards.

The Pack shot 68.3 percent from the floor for the contest, including a blistering 78.9 percent (15 of 19) effort in the second half. State was also hitting its chances from the free throw line, finishing at 86.4 percent (19-22), while the Utes made 45 percent of its field goals and 40 percent of its free throws.

State led 30-26 at halftime and increased its lead before the 75-56 final. Peter Williams netted 15 points for the Utes while Pace Mannion added 13.

Coach Jim Valvano's squad, which finished the regular season at 17-10, went on to beat Virginia, 63-62, before topping Georgia 67-60 and then surprised everybody with its 54-52 win over Houston, which boasted stars Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon.

1985 West Region Semifinal: NC State 61, Alabama 55


In an ironic twist of fate, current NC State coach Mark Gottfried was on the losing end of this 61-55 outing that was much closer than the final score indicates.

Third seed NC State took a 28-27 lead into the break over seventh-seeded Alabama, and couldn't really pull away until the final seconds. Point guard Spud Webb paced the Red and White with 14 points while Charles also chipped in 14, but the Pack won this one at the foul line in the waning moments of the game.

Gottfried and the Crimson Tide, who entered the tilt with wins in nine of their previous ten games, trailed 55-53 with 33 seconds left. After Webb missed on the front end of a one-and-one, reserve Bennie Bolton grabbed the miss and was fouled before he sank both free throws. Those represented two of the Pack's final ten points, which were all made from the charity stripe, and helped propel State to the final margin of victory.

Terry Coner netted a game-high 18 points for Alabama while Buck Johnson had 16 points and 14 boards. Meanwhile, Gottfried finished with two points and a pair of assists.

The win moved the Pack to 23-9 and put them into the Elite Eight, where they fell to St. John's, 69-60.

1986 Midwest Region Semifinal: NC State 70, Iowa State 66


The sixth-seeded Wolfpack were able to squeak past the No. 7 seed Iowa State, thanks to the inside presence of Chris Washburn and Charles Shackleford.

The inexperienced Pack entered the contest at 20-12 and had lost six of its last seven games before the tournament started, but they rolled through to the Elite Eight in Kansas City behind their young post players.

In this game, the sophomore Washburn (who had played in limited games as a freshman due to an off-the-court incident) netted 20 points while the rookie Shackleford tallied 22. Ernie Myers added 16 points of his own and the Pack proved to be too much for the Cyclones, who shot 40 percent on the night. Jeff Grayer and Sam Hill each tallied 21 points for Iowa State in the Pack's last Sweet 16 victory.

However, State lost in the ensuing contest to top-seeded Kansas, 75-67. That marks the only time that the two programs have met each other in the Big Dance.

1989 East Region Semifinal: Georgetown 69, NC State 61


This was the team honored with the "Wolfpack Unlimited" Award before the NC State-North Carolina tilt in Raleigh on Feb. 21 after former stars Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta were ejected during the second half of the Florida State game by referee Karl Hess on Feb. 18.

Ironically, this game - much like Corchiani and Gugliotta's ejection-gate - was full of controversy.

Georgetown, the top seed powered by rookie Alonzo Mourning and Dwayne Bryant, raced out to a 42-28 lead at halftime over the fifth-seeded Pack in East Rutherford, N.J.

However, Rodney Monroe tallied 20 of his game-high 26 points after the break and put his team back in the game.

With 1:47 left in the game, NC State trailed by three points. Corchiani drove to the hoop and dropped a shot in over Mourning, who also fouled the Pack's point guard on the play. That would've been the Georgetown big man's fifth foul, but instead Corchiani was called for traveling by Rick Hartsell and Mourning could stay in the game.

On the CBS broadcast, announcer Billy Packer said, "That's nowhere near a walk," and Corchiani has also said in interviews that the next year Hartsell apologized to him and Valvano for blowing the call.

However, the call was made and NC State wound up being bounced for the tournament by a final of 69-61. This team was also the last NC State men's basketball squad to claim the ACC regular season crown.

2005 East Region Semifinal: Wisconsin 65, NC State 56


In a situation very similar to this year, the winner of this game would face the winner of a game North Carolina was playing in.

Tenth-seeded NC State was up 30-21 at the half, but was blown out in the second half, 44-26 en route to the 65-56 final. Wisconsin, the region's No. 6 seed, went on a big run to open the second, and scored 26 of the second period's first 33 points.

The Wolfpack, led by Julius Hodge and Engin Atsur, opened the game on fire and made their first six three-pointers while making 45 percent of their attempts in the opening period.

However, they made just three of their next 16 shots from behind the arc and shot only 32 percent from the floor after the break. Conversely, the Badgers went from shooting 39 percent to open the game to making 58 percent of their shots in the final 20 minutes.

Atsur finished with 16 points in the game while Hodge tallied 14. Alando Tucker netted 22 points for the Badgers.

In another interesting tie to this year's coaching staff, the Pack topped Charlotte, then coached by current assistant Bobby Lutz, in the first round of action before bouncing No. 2 seed Connecticut to reach the Sweet 16.


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