1983 Final Four teams: North Carolina State, Houston, Louisville, Georgia
North Carolina State's stunning last-second victory over powerful Houston in the title game ranks as one of the most exciting games in history. It overshadowed what had been an outstanding semifinal game involving two talented, athletic teams: Houston and Louisville.
Known as "Phi Slama Jama" for its high-flying dunking, No. 1-ranked Houston featured Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. The Cougars dumped No. 2-ranked Louisville 94-81 in the semifinals in what was seen as the key Final Four game.
The Wolfpack, meanwhile, had been far from dominant in the tournament, having to go two overtimes to get past first-round opponent Pepperdine, a No. 11 seed, and then winning one-point games in upsets of UNLV and Virginia, the latter featuring national player of the year Ralph Sampson.
North Carolina State, a No. 6 seed with 10 losses, would not even have been in the 48-team NCAA tournament if it had not won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. But coach Jim Valvano had the Wolfpack looking like a team of destiny with its series of close wins and a convincing 67-60 victory over Georgia in the semifinals.
In the title game, North Carolina State led by eight points at halftime, but a 17-2 Houston run in the second half gave the Cougars a seven-point lead. At that point, Houston coach Guy Lewis ordered the Cougars to go into a slowdown, even though they had used a fast-paced game and their athletic superiority to take the lead.
The Wolfpack caught up, and with the score tied 52-52 with 1:08 left, Valvano ordered his team to foul to take advantage of the Cougars' poor free-throw shooting. Houston freshman Alvin Franklin went to the line and missed the front end of a one-and-one.
The Wolfpack held the ball for a final shot, but the play broke down, and Dereck Whittenburg was forced to throw up a hurried 30-footer that was well short. However, North Carolina State forward Lorenzo Charles, who had scored just two points to that point, grabbed the air ball as it neared the rim and stuffed it home as the buzzer sounded.
The play gave North Carolina State a 54-52 victory and one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history.