This year's NCAA tournament has had its share of Cinderella teams. For many in the Triangle, our favorite Cinderella story is the 1983 NC State team.
Here's how The N&O described the excitement following the Pack's "heart-stopping 54-52 win over Houston and the NCAA basketball championship."
Wolfpack fans responded in loud and familiar style.
Within minutes, more than 10,000 fans packed the Brickyard on campus to overflowing, where a giant bonfire burned. A crowd estimated at 15,000 stopped traffic on Hillsborough Street.
Traffic was heavy but still moving on Hillsborough Street until about 11:20 p.m.
Police couldn't restrain the fans any longer as a sudden surge of people blocked the street. Officer reacted in a low-key manner as they tied to keep traffic moving.
Capt. F.C. Gregory conceded the street at 11:30. "Yeah, it's theirs," he said.
Officers doused a bonfire as it was being lit on the street, but aside from angry chants the crowd didn't contest it. Other bonfires burned off the street, and many people were carrying couches as they made their way to them.
At the Brickyard, an old Plymouth that had been hauled into the area was turned upside down and torn apart by fans.
Cars were backed up on Hillsborough more than a mile, past the Capitol. Traffic was heavy but moving sluggishly on all major streets leading to campus.
Fans of every description -- young and middle-aged, families and students -- turned out to celebrate.
"This is the greatest thing that's happened to Raleigh in 10 years," said Elizabeth De Angelis, who brought her two children to Hillsborough Street.
NCSU sophomore Howard Freeman said the Pack's spectacular finish reminded him of Superman. "I don't even know who dunked it (the last shot), but I saw it go in and it's the kind of thing you see in DC comics." -- The News & Observer 4/5/1983
A few years earlier, another unlikely North Carolina team had made it all the way to the final four. That 1977 UNC-Charlotte team was led by Kinston's Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell. Maxwell went on to play for the Boston Celtics. His #33 UNCC jersey was retired in 1977, and his #31 Celtics jersey was retired in 2003.
Maxwell's 6'8" frame stood out wherever he went, but especially when he paid return visits to his hometown schools.
The visitor was obviously not your ordinary speaker, and although the youngster didn't know exactly who the fellow was, he ventured a pretty good ballpark guess.
"Hey, do you play basketball?" he shouted at the towering figure striding just ahead of an excited, milling crowd of students at Rochelle Junior High.
Cedric Maxwell, busily signing autographs, did not hear the boy's question, but another student close by reprimanded the youth with a stern, "Man, that's Cornbread!"
You see, in Kinston, Cornbread and basketball mean just about the same thing. -- The News & Observer 6/18/1981 (AP)
Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell visits to his hometown to speak with school children. Photo courtesy East Carolina University Joyner Library.