1983 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament

The 1983 NCAA Division I Men's 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 17, 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.

1983 NCAA Division I
Men's Basketball Tournament
Finals siteThe Pit
Albuquerque, New Mexico
ChampionsNC State Wolfpack (2nd title, 2nd title game,
3rd Final Four)
Runner-upHouston Cougars (1st title game,
4th Final Four)
Winning coachJim Valvano (1st title)
MOPAkeem Olajuwon (Houston)
Top scorerDereck Whittenburg NC State
(120 points)
NCAA Division I Men's Tournaments
«1982 1984»

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 game is one of the most famous in college basketball history, with a buzzer-beating dunk by Lorenzo Charles off a desperation shot 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 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. 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 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 hearkened back to his high school days with Morgan Wootten at DeMatha Catholic High School, where he was taught to always catch the basketball with both hands. If Whittenburg had not attempted to do so in this case, Anders may have gotten the steal and a game-winning breakaway layup. In college basketball at the time, the game clock continued to run after a made field goal, and the Wolfpack likely would not have had time even to inbound the ball. As it was, Anders knocked the ball out of Whittenburg's hands, but Whittenburg quickly 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, later claimed by Whittenburg to be a pass, 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, and, in one motion, he scored the go-ahead points with a two-handed dunk. The final second 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)

Play-In Round

East & West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania The Palestra Pennsylvania/Temple
Mideast & Midwest Dayton, Ohio University of Dayton Arena Dayton

First & Second Rounds

East Hartford, Connecticut Hartford Civic Center Connecticut
Greensboro, North Carolina Greensboro Coliseum Atlantic Coast Conference
Mideast Evansville, Indiana Roberts Municipal Stadium Evansville
Tampa, Florida USF Sun Dome South Florida
Midwest Houston, Texas The Summit Houston/Rice/Texas Southern
Louisville, Kentucky Freedom Hall Louisville
West Boise, Idaho BSU Pavilion Boise State
Corvallis, Oregon Gill Coliseum Oregon State

Regional Sites and Final Four

East Syracuse, New York Carrier Dome Syracuse
Mideast Knoxville, Tennessee Stokely Athletic Center Tennessee
Midwest Kansas City, Missouri Kemper Arena Big 8 Conference
West Ogden, Utah Dee Events Center Weber State
Final Four Albuquerque, New Mexico University Arena ("The Pit") New Mexico

Albuquerque became the 20th host city, and The Pit the 21st host venue, for the Final Four. Albuquerque was the third smallest metropolitan area to host a Final Four, ahead of only Lexington and Greensboro. While it is not on the main campus of the University of New Mexico, the arena is part of the south campus of the school (which includes Dreamstyle Stadium, Santa Ana Star Field, and most other campus athletics facilities, as well as neighboring Isotopes Park), making this the last Final Four held on a campus of any kind. The 1983 tournament saw five new host cities - Boise, Evansville, Hartford, Syracuse and Tampa. Of the five, only Evansville has not repeated as a host city yet. The tournament also saw two venues returning after long absences, with Kansas City (first time since 1964) and Corvallis, Oregon (first time since 1967). While Kansas City, Kemper Arena and its successor venue the Sprint Center have continued to host tournament games, this would be the last time Corvallis has hosted since. Any future tournament games to be played in Tampa would be at the Amalie Arena or Tropicana Field.


RegionSeedTeamCoachFinishedFinal OpponentScore
East1St. John'sLou CarneseccaSweet Sixteen4 GeorgiaL 70–67
East2North CarolinaDean SmithRegional Runner-up4 GeorgiaL 82–77
East3Ohio StateEldon MillerSweet Sixteen2 North CarolinaL 64–51
East4GeorgiaHugh DurhamFinal Four6 NC StateL 67–60
East5VCUJ.D. BarnettSecond Round4 GeorgiaL 56–54
East6SyracuseJim BoeheimSecond Round3 Ohio StateL 79–74
East7West VirginiaGale CatlettFirst Round10 James MadisonL 57–50
East8Southwestern LouisianaBobby PaschalFirst Round9 RutgersL 60–53
East9RutgersTom YoungSecond Round1 St. John'sL 66–55
East10James MadisonLou CampanelliSecond Round2 North CarolinaL 68–49
East11Morehead StateWayne MartinFirst Round6 SyracuseL 74–59
East12Boston UniversityRick PitinoPreliminary Round12 La SalleL 70–58
East12La SalleLefty ErvinFirst Round5 VCUL 76–67
Mideast1LouisvilleDenny CrumFinal Four1 HoustonL 94–81
Mideast2IndianaBob KnightSweet Sixteen3 KentuckyL 64–59
Mideast3KentuckyJoe B. HallRegional Runner-up1 LouisvilleL 80–68
Mideast4ArkansasEddie SuttonSweet Sixteen1 LouisvilleL 65–63
Mideast5PurdueGene KeadySecond Round4 ArkansasL 78–68
Mideast6Illinois StateBob DonewaldFirst Round11 OhioL 51–49
Mideast7OklahomaBilly TubbsSecond Round2 IndianaL 63–49
Mideast8TennesseeDon DeVoeSecond Round1 LouisvilleL 70–57
Mideast9MarquetteHank RaymondsFirst Round8 TennesseeL 57–56
Mideast10UABGene BartowFirst Round7 OklahomaL 71–63
Mideast11OhioDanny NeeSecond Round3 KentuckyL 57–40
Mideast12Georgia SouthernFrank KernsPreliminary Round12 Robert MorrisL 64–54
Mideast12Robert MorrisMatt FurjanicFirst Round5 PurdueL 55–53
Midwest1HoustonGuy LewisRunner Up6 NC StateL 54–52
Midwest2MissouriNorm StewartSecond Round7 IowaL 77–63
Midwest3VillanovaRollie MassiminoRegional Runner-up1 HoustonL 89–71
Midwest4Memphis State (Vacated)Dana KirkSweet Sixteen1 HoustonL 70–63
Midwest5GeorgetownJohn ThompsonSecond Round4 Memphis StateL 66–57
Midwest6AlabamaWimp SandersonFirst Round11 LamarL 73–50
Midwest7IowaLute OlsonSweet Sixteen3 VillanovaL 55–54
Midwest8MarylandLefty DriesellSecond Round1 HoustonL 60–50
Midwest9ChattanoogaMurray ArnoldFirst Round8 MarylandL 52–51
Midwest10Utah StateRod TuellerFirst Round7 IowaL 64–59
Midwest11LamarPat FosterSecond Round3 VillanovaL 60–58
Midwest12Alcorn StateDavey WhitneyFirst Round5 GeorgetownL 68–63
Midwest12XavierBob StaakPreliminary Round12 Alcorn StateL 81–75
West1VirginiaTerry HollandRegional Runner-up6 NC StateL 63–62
West2UCLALarry FarmerSecond Round10 UtahL 67–61
West3UNLVJerry TarkanianSecond Round6 NC StateL 71–70
West4Boston CollegeGary WilliamsSweet Sixteen1 VirginiaL 95–92
West5Oklahoma StatePaul HansenFirst Round12 PrincetonL 56–53
West6NC StateJim ValvanoChampion1 HoustonW 54–52
West7IllinoisLou HensonFirst Round10 UtahL 52–49
West8Washington StateGeorge RavelingSecond Round1 VirginiaL 54–49
West9Weber StateNeil McCarthyFirst Round8 Washington StateL 62–52
West10UtahJerry PimmSweet Sixteen6 NC StateL 75–56
West11PepperdineJim HarrickFirst Round6 NC StateL 69–67
West12North Carolina A&TDon CorbettPreliminary Round12 PrincetonL 53–41
West12PrincetonPete CarrilSecond 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 NC State 63
6 NC State 69  
11 Pepperdine 67**  
  6 NC State 71
    3 UNLV 70  
  6 NC 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 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 NC State 67
W6 NC 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. The Wolfpack did not assure themselves of a tournament bid until they upset Virginia in the championship game of the ACC tournament. 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).

Christopher Cross' All Right accompanied the highlight montage at the end of CBS' broadcast of the championship game.

See also


  1. https://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. Weintraub, Robert – Jamfest for the Ages. E-Ticket – ESPN.COM the magazine, March 29, 2007
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