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Jim Valvano and NC State were the original Heroes of March

Jim Valvano and the NC State Wolfpack had to overcome long odds just to make the NCAA Tournament in 1983 - a task that required toppling Ralph Sampson's Virginia Cavaliers and Michael Jordan's North Carolina Tar Heels. Once they got their ticket to the dance punched, however, that just set the stage for the real magic to begin.Watch on YouTube | Subscribe to SB Nation on YouTube

When the North Carolina State Wolfpack earned their way into the 1983 NCAA Tournament after defeating Virginia and North Carolina (led by some guy named Michael Jordan) in the ACC Tournament, not many people were expecting a whole lot of much from Jim Valvano's squad.

And that's what made their run so unlikely, so rewarding, and so thrilling. They caught fire at the perfect time and just couldn't stop winning. But after working their way from the Sweet 16 to the Elite Eight to the Final Four, the biggest challenge of all loomed in the Championship Game, where they found themselves as 8-point underdogs to Akeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and the Houston Cougars.

And with the clock winding down in the final moments of a game tied up at 52, Dereck Whittenburg was forced into an errant attempt at the win that appeared to fall hopelessly short. Overtime, right? Wrong. Lorenzo Charles, in the right place at the right time, plucked the ball out of mid-air and slammed it home to complete the legendary upset.

NC State could have fallen short numerous times - indeed 4 of their 6 wins in the Tournament were by no more than 2 points ... but that's what made them so special. Every time they were written off, they silenced their critics the only way they knew how. By winning.