The N.C. State vs. UNC basketball rivalry has been upstaged in recent seasons by the Tar Heels’ series against Duke.
But dating back to the earliest days of the ACC, the Wolfpack and Heels have staged as many unforgettable games as any other in the nation.
Here are five of the most memorable.
•March 8, 1975 _ Greensboro
UNC 70, State 66
David Thompson’s final college game was marked by frustration, tears and pain. Battling leg cramps and a bruised knee in Greensboro Coliseum, the superstar wingman was held to 16 points in the ACC Tournament championship game.
The Tar Heels, led by freshman Phil Ford’s 24 points and five assists, took a lead late, went to their four corners delay and claimed the league’s guaranteed NCAA Tournament bid. Maryland got an at-large bid on the merits of its regular-season title showing.
Thompson and teammates Monte Towe, Mo Rivers, Kenny Carr, Phil Spence and Tim Stoddard had one of the best teams in the country. But unable to defend their 1974 NCAA title, the team declined an invitation to the NIT.
After beating New Mexico State, the Tar Heels lost to Syracuse in the NCAA.
•Jan. 17, 1979 – Raleigh
UNC 70, State 69
The lingering memory of the game is Dudley Bradley’s game-winning dunk a second or two after he stripped Wolfpack guard Clyde Austin of possession near mid-court.
But it’s rarely mentioned that before Bradley’s play, the Pack had staged an incredible comeback, rallying from a 40-19 halftime deficit in Reynolds Coliseum.
The outcome went far toward ruining State’s already sinking season. Norm Sloan’s team finished 3-9 in the ACC and 18-12 overall after having been ranked fourth nationally in December.
•March 12, 1983 _ Atlanta
State 91, UNC 84 (OT)
A stunning offensive performance in the ACC Tournament semifinals served as national springboard game for Jim Valvano’s third Wolfpack team.
With a lineup that included Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and Brad Daugherty, the nationally fifth-ranked Tar Heels were favored by nine points in the Omni, but couldn’t stop State playmaker Sidney Lowe (26 points, seven rebounds, five assists) and big man Thurl Bailey (17 points, 14 rebounds).
A day later, State took out second-ranked Virginia in the championship game, 81-78.
•Jan. 22, 1992 _ Raleigh
State 99, UNC 88
Against overwhelming odds, State coach and former player Les Robinson ran his record in the series to 2-1 with a shocking win in Reynolds.
UNC was ranked 10th nationally, favored by 16 points and was working its way toward a national title in 1993.
Robinson’s second State team was 8-6 en route to a 12-18 (6-10 ACC) record. Forward Tom Gugliotta played the game of his life _ 36 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocked shots and four steals. The Pack shot 55 percent and led almost all the way.
“You may never see a better game than the one Googs played tonight,” Robinson said.
When they met later in Chapel Hill, UNC was ranked fourth, but State won again (99-94) when Gugliotta had 24 points, Mark Davis 25 and Kevin Thompson 29.
•March 11, 2007 _ Tampa, Fla.
UNC 89, State 80
The ACC championship game turned out to be a haunting “what if” afternoon for first-year State coach Sidney Lowe.
After finishing regular season with a 5-11 league record, the Wolfpack rallied behind playmaker Engin Atsur to take out Duke, Virginia and Virginia Tech and earn a crack a the eighth-ranked Heels in the title game.
UNC’s depth was the decisive factor, but both teams shot better than 54 percent. Five Carolina players finished in double digit scoring. State got 28 points from Bradnon Costner.
The Pack landed an NIT bid and reached the third round. But had Lowe been able to win a league title in his first season, it’s conceivable he could used the momentum to his favor in recruiting.