Busting Brackets

NC State men’s basketball all-time Final Four history

NC State has made a run to its fourth Final Four in school history, this time as a No. 11 seed. See how the Wolfpack fared in their last three trips to the national semifinal.
North Carolina State head coach Jim Valvano
North Carolina State head coach Jim Valvano / Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

They’re called the Cardiac Pack for a reason. The last time that NC State made a run to the Final Four was 1983 when, like this season, NC State won the ACC Tournament to get into the big dance, then after an early-round overtime scare, proceeded to turn into one of the best teams in the country. 

Kevin Keatts hasn’t turned into the larger-than-life character that Jim Valvano became 41 years ago, but D.J. Burns did. Now, in the Final Four, NC State will face Zach Edey, the first back-to-back National Player of the Year since Ralph Sampson, who the Wolfpack beat in the Regional Final in 1983. 

There are plenty of other parallels to that memorable run and that has all of Raleigh saying it feels like ‘83, but that wasn’t the only time that NC State made the Final Four. This year’s “Cinderella” as most of the country insists on calling this historic program has a track record of success late in the NCAA Tournament. 

2272. . 60. 1983 Final Four. 1983 Final Four. 67. 527. .

The Final Four was somehow almost a letdown spot for Jimmy V’s team in 1983. Georgia was a No. 4 seed that upset North Carolina and Michael Jordan to qualify for the National Semifinal in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

The Bulldogs were good, but nothing compared to Ralph Sampson, who NC State downed the round prior, or Houston’s “Phi Slamma Jamma” team which included Akeem (Hakeem) Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. 

The Wolfpack took care of Georgia behind 20 points apiece from Dereck Whittenburg and Thurl Bailey. Sidney Lowe pitched in with 10 points and 11 assists. 

1974 Final Four. . 518. . 1974 Final Four (2OT). 77. 80. 2272.

Heading into the 1974 NCAA Tournament, UCLA had won seven straight national titles under John Wooden and nine of the last 10. With Bill Walton and Jamaal Wilkes leading the way, the Bruins entered the tournament 23-3, but NC State was better. 

The No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Wolfpack had just one loss all year and needed two overtimes in the National Semifinal to finally dethrone UCLA. David Thompson and Bill Walton had a legendary back-and-forth, Walton finishing with 29 points and 18 rebounds, Thompson scoring 28 and grabbing 10 boards. 

1950 Final Four vs. City College of New York 78-73 L

The NCAA Tournament wasn’t yet fully formed in 1950, only including the eight best teams in the country. After beating Holy Cross in Round 1, NC State fell to the City College of New York Beavers. Ed Roman led the way for CCNY with 21 and Ed Warner added 17. It’s likely the last time a team with multiple Eds in the starting lineup accomplished much on a basketball court. Unless of course, you count Ed O’Bannon and Tyus Edney at UCLA in 1995.

Next. NC State women's basketball all-time Final Four history. NC State women's basketball all-time Final Four history. dark