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From SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, March 18, 1974
THERE IS NOTHING LIKE THAT DOWN-HOME, COUNTRY-COOKED ACC tournament. It is unusual, unfair and unreal, a bit of bad and good, invented by the same perverse guy who makes your buttonholes too small and your shoestrings too weak. It is simple college fun, like stuffing VWs, streaking around the history building or electing a gnu campus queen.
But above all, the tournament presents the kind of basketball that tickles the palate of a box-score gourmet. The ACC staged its annual spring feast in Greensboro, N.C., taxing the city's ice-making machines and providing a venue for every backwoods huckster with something to sell and a story to tell. Out of this hysteria emerged North Carolina State, which won the title and an NCAA berth by beating Maryland 103--100 in overtime, making it the third straight year the Terrapins have been runner-up. The game was indescribably delicious. N.C. State shot 55% from the floor while Maryland hit 61%, and the teams played with the fury of neighbors who feel that just because they live on the same block, they don't have to be polite.
At 5' 5½" the Wolfpack's Monte Towe is short enough to duck under a turnstile, but with six seconds left he was the little big man, making two free throws to give State an invincible three-point edge. It was the 26th win for the No. 1--ranked Wolfpack, but this one was not easy, and there were several moments when State was perilously close to watching the NCAA tournament from house seats in Greensboro. Early in the first half Maryland led by 13 points, and though State caught and passed the Terrapins before the intermission, Maryland recovered to lead by five.
The second half was always close. The Pack led 97--93 late in the game but the Terps tied the score with just over a minute to play. When State tried to hold the ball for one last shot, Maryland stole it and did the same. With nine seconds left Terps coach Lefty Driesell called timeout to put in a play, but a frenzied Wolfpack defense kept Maryland from getting off a reasonable shot. The Terrapins had other chances in overtime, but when Towe calmly hit both free throws, the game was over.
The victory climaxed a personal vendetta for Tommy Burleson, the occasionally maligned, frequently gawky 7' 4" North Carolina State center who is so thin that he wears a wrist band up near his elbow. Burleson was snubbed this year by all-conference-team selectors. They must have felt like eating their ballots after Tall Tommy scored 38 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked a handful of shots.
Afterward Driesell was piqued at watching N.C. State cut down the nets. He said he had seen the act before.