By Tim Peeler
Check out the NC State Bulletin interview with the author.
The scene that unfolded on April 4, 1983, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is forever etched in the minds of college basketball fans. With the NCAA Championship game between Houston and NC State tied at 52 against heavily favored Houston, Wolfpack senior guard Dereck Whittenburg launched a 28-foot airball. Sophomore forward Lorenzo Charles grabbed it and stuffed it home for a game-winning dunk, sending Wolfpack coach Jim Valvano on a manic search for someone to hug.
The bedlam that ensued capped one of the most enduring Cinderella stories in the history of modern sports - on the scale of the 1969 New York Mets, the 1971 New York Jets and the 1980 U.S. hockey team - as the Cardiac Pack slew the Phi Slama Jama giant and gave hope to every underdog that ever heard its named called on Selection Sunday.
Valvano used a comic's flair to tell stories about this team until his premature death of cancer ten years later. Rarely, however, did the players tell their side of what happened during their magical and manic march twenty-five years ago.
In When March Went Mad, award-winning author Tim Peeler tracks down every member of that miraculous team, which won seven of its nine post-season games on last-second plays or in overtime. He retells the familiar story through their experiences, with all-new insight, previously untold anecdotes and warm memories of their coach, their teammates and the events that surrounded
What really happened the night Charles took a couple of pizzas from a Dominos delivery man the summer before the championship season began.
Why Valvano had one of his assistant coaches in a chokehold on the sidelines at the end of a nationally televised game against West Virginia at the Meadowlands.
About undersized guard Terry Gannon's connection to another inspirational figure in college athletics.
How Thurl Bailey's mom almost derailed the championship run before it ever started, by threatening to pull her son off the court in the ACC Tournament.
Why Pepperdine's Dane Suttle missed two free throws in the double-overtime NCAA opener, allowing the Wolfpack to come back from a five-point deficit in the final twenty-four seconds of the first overtime.
Why many of Houston's cheerleaders were secretly pulling for the Wolfpack to win in the title game.
What it means for Sidney Lowe, the heady point guard on that team, to follow in Valvano's footsteps as NC State's head basketball coach.
And, ultimately, what happened to the rest of the "Cardiac Pack," the team that inspired millions to believe in impossible dreams.
As college basketball commentator Dick Vitale says in the foreword, "It truly is one of the most unbelievable stories in the history of college basketball ... perhaps the seminal moment of what we now call 'March Madness.'"