On this day in 1974: A March Madness highlight for the history books

So how are your brackets doing? It seems like when I pick the upsets, they don’t happen, and when I pick the favorites, they fall like dominoes. But I digress.

Now that things are heating up in the NCAA tournament, we thought we’d take a moment to look back on a March Madness highlight from 1974. The following is excerpted from Instant Replay: 365 Days of North Carolina Sports Trivia, by Jimmy Tomlin.

March 23, 1974

North Carolina State, led by stars David Thompson and Tommy Burleson, snaps UCLA’s streak of seven consecutive NCAA championships with a thrilling 80-77 double-overtime win over the Bruins in a national semifinal game at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Wolfpack, coached by Norm Sloan, overcomes an 11-point deficit in the second half and a 7-point deficit in the second overtime to defeat John Wooden’s Bruins, led by Bill Walton and Keith Wilkes. Thompson finishes with 28 points and 10 rebounds, while Burleson scores 20 and grabs 14 rebounds. Point guard Monte Towe clinches the win by sinking a pair of free throws with 12 seconds remaining.

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Instant Replay: 365 Days of North Carolina Sports Trivia by Jimmy Tomlin

In Instant Replay, Jimmy Tomlin covers the state’s entire sports landscape—from tennis and track to football and fighting to hockey and horse racing—with anecdotes for every day of the year that transcend mere box scores.

While the book documents the unforgettable exploits of some of the state’s best-known athletes—Michael Jordan, Richard Petty, Catfish Hunter, and Choo-Choo Justice, just to name a few—it also tells the compelling stories of more obscure athletes, such as the high-school baseball player who homered five times in a single game and the slow-pitch softball stud who slugged more than 6,000 homers in his career. Tomlin revisits many of the state’s famous sports moments, like the year the Rose Bowl was played in Durham, but he also includes lesser-known moments, like the time a professional basketball player’s monstrous dunks shattered two backboards in the same game and the day a fisherman caught a record catfish with a Barbie fishing pole. Interspersed throughout the book are interesting sidebars detailing the state’s links to the careers of sports legends like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Rocky Marciano.

After reading Instant Replay, even the most diehard North Carolina sports fan will come away with a deeper appreciation for the state’s athletic heritage—and likely learn something new in the process.

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