By Original uploader – Originally uploaded by Jonnybsay to Wikimedia Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2513598
Those who know anything about NCAA Basketball will tell you that when you are facing a number one seed, and you are not a top seed yourself, you have very little chances of winning. It is part of the reason why we often see the same teams contesting the championship games in the NCAA. These are the teams with the established franchises. Even if they are recycling players every four years, they are the ones who recruit the best from high school. They have the facilities, coaches and the lure that gets the top players into their teams. And that is why they are so hard to beat.
It gives us some context into the game between NC State and the Houston Cougars. Houston was regarded as one of the top franchises at the time in the NCAA Basketball circuit. They were the number one seed, and they were the ones who were destined to go ahead and get the win. But their dream was turned into a nightmare by the Wolfpack, who overcame the odds and got a historic triumph. Their coach Jim Valvano played a huge part, and he will always be remembered for orchestrating the biggest upset in all time in NCAA basketball history.
What is even more impressive is that the Wolfpack did not have some unexpected tactic that won them the game. In fact, they played the game on Houston’s turns. Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon was the star for Houston, before he went on to the NBA and became a superstar there. His dunking and general play as a center was the reason why the team was so successful. And they had put so many others to the sword thanks to the dunk. But it was the dunk that proved their undoing against NC State, with the Wolfpack scoring a ton of points in the paint that night.
The game went deep with the scores tied. The Wolfpack, who had lost ten games that season, would go on to become the team to win the national championship with the most defeats. They were the first ever to lose ten games and win the championship. With the scores level at 52, and barely seconds left in the game, it was time for the coaches to give their players last instructions. For their part, NC State were anticipating that Houston would go with a man-to-man strategy.
However, Houston tried something else. they went with a trapping defense, where you are attempting to get the ball quickly and double teaming in strategic areas. The problem with a trapping defense is that one man will be open, if only you can find him. Luckily for NC State, they did find him, and he put his shot away.
It was a remarkable result for NC State, who did not let Houston score in the final few minutes of the game. Remarkably, Houston had a 52-46 lead with three minutes left in the game. They did not score a single point after, with the NC State defense shutting them and Olajuwon out!