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With the NCAA “March Madness” basketball tournament going on in full force, I think back of some of my favorite memories of my years watching those games. Many of my favorites come before the days of the goofy delays because of referee replays and a time when most of the players actually stayed in school for four years.

Topping my list is North Carolina State’s championship run in 1983, which included a major upset over the dunk-happy Houston Cougars in the title game. With only 52 teams selected for the tournament in those years, North Carolina State needed to win the ACC conference tournament in order to even receive a berth to the tournament.

I remember watching North Carolina State’s double- overtime win over Pepperdine in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The game first started at about 10 p.m. local time, but me and my college buddies stayed up until the exciting end. No one thought of that time that the Wolfpack were going on to win the national championship.

One side note is that Houston’s inability to hit simple free throws was a key element to the game. This led to the “double bonus” being added to give teams a better chance to hold onto leads. Apparently, practicing free throws was too much to ask for the player to do.

Another memorable game was Villanova’s 66-64 win over heavily favored and defending national champion Georgetown in 1985. Villanova, under the guidance of the emotional coaching of Rollie Massimino, shot an incredible 22 for 28 from the field including nine for 10 in the second half for the win.

Villanova used a patient offense to pull off the offense. NCAA officials, wanting more points and less strategy in its games, instituted a 45-second shot clock for the next season.

Another game that I loved was Duke pulling off a 79-77 win over defending champion UNLV in the semi-final round game in 1991. UNLV was undefeated and pounded Duke by 30 points in the title game the prior year. Duke, led by Christian Laettner, went on to earn a repeat championship the next year.

Upsets have always been what made this tournament great, and hopefully we’re in store for a few more during the next couple of weeks. I’m not decided of which teams I prefer yet, but hopefully many buzzer beaters are still to come.

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