30 Days of Madness: 1974 ACC FinalsPosted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2010
We’ve been anxiously awaiting the next thirty days for the last eleven months. You have too. In fact, if this isn’t your favorite time of year by a healthy margin then you should probably click away from this site for a while. Because we plan on waterboarding you with March Madness coverage. Seriously, you’re going to feel like Dick Cheney himself is holding a Spalding-logoed towel over your face. Your intake will be so voluminous that you’ll be drooling Gus Johnson and bracket residue in your sleep. Or Seth Davis, if that’s more your style. The point is that we’re all locked in and ready to go. Are you? To help us all get into the mood, we like to click around a fancy little website called YouTube for a daily dose of notable events, happenings, finishes, ups and downs relating to the next month. We’re going to try to make this video compilation a little smarter, a little edgier, a little historical-er. Or whatever. Sure, you’ll see some old favorites that never lose their luster, but you’ll also see some that maybe you’ve forgotten or never knew to begin with. That’s the hope, at least. We’ll be matching the videos by the appropriate week, so all of this week we re-visited some of the timeless moments from Championship Week. Enjoy.
Dateline: 1974 ACC Tournament – Maryland vs. NC State
Context: If you’re old enough to remember this game, you’re probably not reading this site, so this is for you youngins out there. When this game was played in the mid-70s, the NCAA Tournament only selected one team from each conference to go to the 25-team event. It truly was a tournament of champions, but the problem was obvious, in that some leagues such as the ACC, were far better than others. 1974 was also the season where UCLA, who had won the last seven national titles, finally saw its own blood (yes, you read seven correctly). Their 88-game winning streak came to an end against Notre Dame in January, and the Bruins even lost a couple of games that year in Pac-8 conference play. Even though John Wooden’s team was still loaded with talent, there were two teams back east that seemed just as good, if not better. #1 NC State came into the ACC championship game at 25-1, while #4 Maryland was 23-4 and both teams enjoyed serious future NBA talent — NCSU with the spectacular David Thompson along with big man Tom Burleson, and the Terps with an all-star cast including Len Elmore, John Lucas and Tom McMillen. In a game that many who witnessed still today claim was the greatest game ever played (even over 1992 Duke-Kentucky), NC State prevailed 103-100 in overtime. The Wolfpack went on to vanquish the mighty Bruins in the Final Four and cut down the nets for their first national championship two nights later. The Terps, well… they went back home and wondered what could have been, labeled as one of the best teams to never play in the NCAA Tournament. In large part due to the outcry after this game featuring two of the nation’s very best teams, the NCAA expanded to 32 teams in 1975, opening the door for the at-large bids that have been a key component of the Dance ever since.