1983 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament

1983 NCAA Men's Division I
Basketball Tournament
Teams 52
Finals site The Pit
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Champions NC State (2nd title, 2nd title game,
3rd Final Four)
Runner-up Houston (1st title game,
4th Final Four)
Winning coach Jim Valvano (1st title)
MOP Akeem Olajuwon Houston
Attendance 364,356
Top scorer Dereck Whittenburg NC State
(120 points)
NCAA Men's Division I Tournaments
«1982 1984»

The 1983 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament involved 52 schools playing in single-elimination play to determine the national champion of men's NCAA Division I college basketball. It began on March 2, 1983, and ended with the championship game on April 4 at The Pit, then officially known as University Arena, on the campus of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.[1] A total of 51 games were played.

North Carolina State, coached by Jim Valvano, won the national title with a 54–52 victory in the final game over Houston, coached by Guy Lewis. The ending of the final is one of the most famous in college basketball history, with a buzzer-beating dunk by Lorenzo Charles, off an air ball from 30 feet out by Dereck Whittenburg.

Both Charles's dunk and Valvano's running around the court in celebration immediately after the game have been staples of NCAA tournament coverage ever since. North Carolina State's victory has often been considered one of the greatest upsets in college basketball history, and is the fourth biggest point-spread upset in Championship Game history.

Akeem Olajuwon of Houston (who later changed his name to Hakeem) was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, becoming the last player to date to earn this award while playing for a team that failed to win the national title.

National championship game

In the final game, played in Albuquerque, New Mexico, NC State led at halftime by a score of 33-25. Houston was hampered by foul trouble that plagued star Clyde Drexler, who picked up four first half fouls. The last of these was a questionable offensive foul; the officials ruled that Drexler had run into sophomore guard Terry Gannon, but television replays seemed to show that Gannon had initiated the contact and that he grabbed Drexler's legs as he fell to the court. In the second half, the Cougars came out with a second wind and established control of the game, eventually taking a seven-point lead.

However, things were not all good for Houston. Since the game was played in Albuquerque, players had to deal with the city's mile-high altitude. The Cougars' star center, Akeem Olajuwon, had problems adjusting to the environment and tired quickly, needing to check out of the game multiple times so he could put on an oxygen mask and recover. With Olajuwon on the bench, Houston head coach Guy Lewis decided that in order to protect the lead and the health of his big man at the same time, the Cougars needed to start slowing the game down.

Once again, this enabled the Wolfpack to return to their standby strategy of extending the game. Houston's free throw shooting was very suspect entering the game, which worked greatly in NC State's favor as they were able to rally back and even the score at 52 in the final two minutes. On what would be the last Houston possession, Valvano called for his players to back off and let freshman guard Alvin Franklin bring the ball up the court. The Wolfpack defenders would let the Cougars employ their slowdown strategy of passing it around. Once the ball got back to Franklin, whenever that happened, he was to be fouled immediately. With 1:05 left, the freshman was fouled and sent to the line for a one-and-one. The idea to foul Franklin sprung from the enormity of the moment; NC State believed that the relatively inexperienced Franklin could not withstand the pressure of going to the line with the championship at stake and knowing that fifty million viewers were tuned in to watch the game. The theory proved correct as Franklin failed to convert and the Wolfpack grabbed the rebound. Valvano called timeout with 44 seconds left and drew up a play for senior guard Dereck Whittenburg during the timeout, which called for the team to pass him the ball with ten seconds left on the clock so he could take the final shot.

Houston needed a defensive stop so they could get another chance to close out the game. Lewis decided to move from the man-to-man defense his team had been running the whole game to a half court zone trap defense. The Wolfpack, who were not expecting the defensive adjustment, were forced to deviate and began passing the ball around just to keep the Cougars from stealing it. Houston nearly got the turnover it was looking for when Whittenburg made an errant pass to Gannon that Drexler nearly came away with before the sophomore regained control of the ball. The ball eventually wound up in the hands of guard Sidney Lowe, who gave it to forward and fellow senior Thurl Bailey in the corner.

Trying to keep the ball moving, as he had been double teamed as soon as he received the pass, Bailey looked back toward Whittenburg, who was approximately thirty feet away from the hoop near midcourt. Bailey threw what Whittenburg would later call a "poor fundamental" overhanded pass which Houston's Benny Anders, guarding Whittenburg on the play, was in position to steal. At this point, Whittenburg harkened back to his high school days with Morgan Wootten at DeMatha Catholic High School, where he was taught to catch the basketball with both hands every time he possessed it. By doing this, he was able to defend against Anders trying to steal the ball, as he only went for it with one hand. If Whittenburg had not done that, Anders would have had an uncontested breakaway toward the other end and would likely have gotten the winning score; at the time, college basketball games were played with a running clock from beginning to end (this is no longer the case) and the Wolfpack would likely not have had enough time to even inbound the ball. As it was, though, Anders merely knocked the ball out of Whittenburg's hands momentarily and the senior guard easily regained control.

The clock, meanwhile, had ticked down to five seconds and Whittenburg was still standing a significant distance from the goal, Once he regained control, Whittenburg turned and launched a desperation shot to try and win the game for NC State. The shot's trajectory took it to the front of the basket where Olajuwon was covering Wolfpack center Lorenzo Charles. As he watched the shot, Olajuwon said he knew the shot was going to come up short but he also did not want to go for the ball too early because of the potential for goaltending. Charles took advantage of the indecision by Olajuwon and went up for the air ball, then in one motion scored the go-ahead points with a two-handed tip-in dunk. The final two seconds ticked off the clock before Houston could inbound the ball, and with that the game ended and the Wolfpack were the national champions.


1983 sites for play-in (orange) and first and second (green) rounds
Kansas City
1983 Regionals (blue) and Final Four (red)

First and second rounds


Region Site
East Syracuse, New York (Carrier Dome)
Mideast Knoxville, Tennessee (Stokely Athletic Center)
Midwest Kansas City, Missouri (Kemper Arena)
West Ogden, Utah (Dee Events Center)

Final Four


Region Seed Team Coach Finished Final Opponent Score
East 1 St. John's Lou Carnesecca Sweet Sixteen4 GeorgiaL 70–67
East 2 North Carolina Dean Smith Regional Runner-up4 GeorgiaL 82–77
East 3 Ohio State Eldon Miller Sweet Sixteen2 North CarolinaL 64–51
East 4 Georgia Hugh Durham Final Four6 North Carolina StateL 67–60
East 5 VCU J.D. Barnett Second Round4 GeorgiaL 56–54
East 6 Syracuse Jim Boeheim Second Round3 Ohio StateL 79–74
East 7 West Virginia Gale Catlett First Round10 James MadisonL 57–50
East 8 Southwestern Louisiana Bobby Paschal First Round9 RutgersL 60–53
East 9 Rutgers Tom Young Second Round1 St. John'sL 66–55
East 10 James Madison Lou Campanelli Second Round2 North CarolinaL 68–49
East 11 Morehead State Wayne Martin First Round6 SyracuseL 74–59
East 12 Boston University Rick Pitino Preliminary Round12 La SalleL 70–58
East 12 La Salle Lefty Ervin First Round5 Virginia CommonwealthL 76–67
Mideast 1 Louisville Denny Crum Final Four1 HoustonL 94–81
Mideast 2 Indiana Bob Knight Sweet Sixteen3 KentuckyL 64–59
Mideast 3 Kentucky Joe B. Hall Regional Runner-up1 LouisvilleL 80–68
Mideast 4 Arkansas Eddie Sutton Sweet Sixteen1 LouisvilleL 65–63
Mideast 5 Purdue Gene Keady Second Round4 ArkansasL 78–68
Mideast 6 Illinois State Bob Donewald First Round11 OhioL 51–49
Mideast 7 Oklahoma Billy Tubbs Second Round2 IndianaL 63–49
Mideast 8 Tennessee Don DeVoe Second Round1 LouisvilleL 70–57
Mideast 9 Marquette Hank Raymonds First Round8 TennesseeL 57-56
Mideast 10 UAB Gene Bartow First Round7 OklahomaL 71–63
Mideast 11 Ohio Danny Nee Second Round3 KentuckyL 57–40
Mideast 12 Georgia Southern Frank Kerns Preliminary Round12 Robert MorrisL 64–54
Mideast 12 Robert Morris Matt Furjanic First Round5 PurdueL 55–53
Midwest 1 Houston Guy Lewis Runner Up6 North Carolina StateL 54–52
Midwest 2 Missouri Norm Stewart Second Round7 IowaL 77–63
Midwest 3 Villanova Rollie Massimino Regional Runner-up1 HoustonL 89–71
Midwest 4 Memphis State (Vacated) Dana Kirk Sweet Sixteen1 HoustonL 70–63
Midwest 5 Georgetown John Thompson Second Round4 Memphis StateL 66–57
Midwest 6 Alabama Wimp Sanderson First Round11 LamarL 73–50
Midwest 7 Iowa Lute Olson Sweet Sixteen3 VillanovaL 55–54
Midwest 8 Maryland Lefty Driesell Second Round1 HoustonL 60–50
Midwest 9 Chattanooga Murray Arnold First Round8 MarylandL 52–51
Midwest 10 Utah State Rod Tueller First Round7 IowaL 64–59
Midwest 11 Lamar Pat Foster Second Round3 VillanovaL 60–58
Midwest 12 Alcorn State Davey Whitney First Round5 GeorgetownL 68–63
Midwest 12 Xavier Bob Staak Preliminary Round12 Alcorn StateL 81–75
West 1 Virginia Terry Holland Regional Runner-up6 North Carolina StateL 63–62
West 2 UCLA Larry Farmer Second Round10 UtahL 67–61
West 3 UNLV Jerry Tarkanian Second Round6 North Carolina StateL 71–70
West 4 Boston College Gary Williams Sweet Sixteen1 VirginiaL 95–92
West 5 Oklahoma State Paul Hansen First Round12 PrincetonL 56–53
West 6 North Carolina State Jim Valvano Champion1 HoustonW 54–52
West 7 Illinois Lou Henson First Round10 UtahL 52–49
West 8 Washington State George Raveling Second Round1 VirginiaL 54–49
West 9 Weber State Neil McCarthy First Round8 Washington StateL 62–52
West 10 Utah Jerry Pimm Sweet Sixteen6 North Carolina StateL 75–56
West 11 Pepperdine Jim Harrick First Round6 North Carolina StateL 69–67
West 12 North Carolina A&T Don Corbett Preliminary Round12 PrincetonL 53–41
West 12 Princeton Pete Carril Second Round4 Boston CollegeL 51–42


* – Denotes overtime period

Preliminary round

East #12 Seed
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
12 La Salle 70
12 Boston University 58
Mideast #12 Seed
Dayton, Ohio
12 Robert Morris 64
12 Georgia Southern 54
Midwest #12 Seed
Dayton, Ohio
12 Alcorn State 81
12 Xavier 75
West #12 Seed
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
12 Princeton 51
12 North Carolina A&T 42

East region

  First round Second round Regional Semifinals Regional Finals
8  Southwest Louisiana 53  
9  Rutgers 60  
  9  Rutgers 55  
    1  St. John's 66  
  1  St. John's 67  
  4  Georgia 70  
  4  Georgia 56
    5  VCU 54  
5  VCU 76
12  La Salle 67  
  4  Georgia 82
  2  North Carolina 77
6  Syracuse 74  
11  Morehead State 59  
  6  Syracuse 74
    3  Ohio State 79  
  3  Ohio State 51
  2  North Carolina 64  
  2  North Carolina 68
    10  James Madison 49  
7  West Virginia 50
10  James Madison 57  

West region

  First round Second round Regional Semifinals Regional Finals
8  Washington State 62  
9  Weber State 52  
  8  Washington State 49  
    1  Virginia 54  
  1  Virginia 95  
  4  Boston College 92  
  4  Boston College 51
    12  Princeton 42  
5  Oklahoma State 53
12  Princeton 56  
  1  Virginia 62
  6  N.C. State 63
6  N.C. State 69  
11  Pepperdine 67  
  6  N.C. State 71
    3  UNLV 70  
  6  N.C. State 75
  10  Utah 56  
  2  UCLA 61
    10  Utah 67  
7  Illinois 49
10  Utah 52  

Mideast region

  First round Second round Regional Semifinals Regional Finals
8  Tennessee 57  
9  Marquette 56  
  8  Tennessee 57  
    1  Louisville 70  
  1  Louisville 65  
  4  Arkansas 63  
  4  Arkansas 78
    5  Purdue 68  
5  Purdue 55
12  Robert Morris 53  
  1  Louisville 80*
  3  Kentucky 68
6  Illinois State 49  
11  Ohio 51  
  11  Ohio 40
    3  Kentucky 57  
  3  Kentucky 64
  2  Indiana 59  
  2  Indiana 63
    7  Oklahoma 49  
7  Oklahoma 71
10  UAB 63  

Midwest region

  First round Second round Regional Semifinals Regional Finals
8  Maryland 52  
9  Tennessee-Chattanooga 51  
  8  Maryland 50  
    1  Houston 60  
  1  Houston 70  
  4  Memphis State 63  
  4  Memphis State 66
    5  Georgetown 57  
5  Georgetown 68
12  Alcorn State 63  
  1  Houston 89
  3  Villanova 71
6  Alabama 50  
11  Lamar 73  
  11  Lamar 58
    3  Villanova 60  
  3  Villanova 55
  7  Iowa 54  
  2  Missouri 63
    7  Iowa 77  
7  Iowa 64
10  Utah State 59  

Final Four

National Semifinals National Championship Game
E4 Georgia 60
W6 N.C. State 67
W6 N.C. State 54
MW1 Houston 52
ME1 Louisville 81
MW1 Houston 94

Tournament notes

The Louisville vs. Houston semi-final was a matchup of the #1 vs. #2 team.[2] The #1 ranked Houston Cougars (nicknamed Phi Slama Jama) vs. #2 the Louisville Cardinals (nicknamed "The Doctors of Dunk") was considered likely to produce the national champion. It featured two strong offensive teams that specialized in the slam dunk.[3] Both teams put on a show of offense, with Houston winning out over Louisville 94-81. This would have been the biggest game of the tournament had it not been eclipsed by the North Carolina State win over Houston in the championship game.

Another historically significant game in this tournament was the Mideast Regional final between Kentucky and Louisville, in-state rivals that had not played one another in basketball since the 1959 NCAA tournament, and had not played in the regular season since 1922. After regulation time ended with Kentucky tying the game at the buzzer, Louisville dominated the overtime to advance to the Final Four. This result directly led to the start of the Battle for the Bluegrass annual basketball series between the two schools that November.[3]

A historically significant run in the tournament was that of Georgia, who became the last team to date to advance to the Final Four in its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. But the N.C. State team led by Jim Valvano became the archetype of the "Cinderella team", the underdog that many fans look to as a possible spoiler over top-ranked teams. This label has, since then, been applied to many programs, including Villanova in 1985, Gonzaga in 1999, George Mason in 2006, Butler in 2010 and 2011, VCU in 2011, and Wichita State in 2013. Not only did N.C. State beat Houston to win the championship, but they also beat #1 seeded Virginia on their way to the Final Four. North Carolina State became the first team in tournament history to win six games en route to the title (the tournament being 32 teams or less prior to 1979, and all champions from 1979 to 1982 had first-round byes).


  1. http://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/postseason/1983-ncaa.html
  2. Johnson, Gary K.; Sean W. Straziscar; Jeff Williams; Kevin Buerge (2007). Official 2007 NCAA Men's Basketball Records Book. NCAA Records Books. National Collegiate Athletic Association. ISSN 1089-5280.
  3. 1 2 Weintraub, Robert – Jamfest for the Ages. E-Ticket – ESPN.COM the magazine, March 29, 2007
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