In 1983, Al Pacino was on the silver screen screaming, “Say hello to my little friend!” the musical group The Police was dominating the radio waves with “Every Breath You Take,” Madonna was making women’s shoulder pads a fashion thing, and Cabbage Patch Dolls were considered great investments – the bitcoin of today, if you will.

Oh, and also, there was the case of the1983 North Carolina Wolfpack men’s basketball team that, led by fast-talking Italian-descent coach Jim Valvano, managed to come out of absolutely nowhere and win the 1983 Men’s National Championship in the last second of the final game of the NCAA Tournament.

Some say history repeats itself, while others say it doesn’t repeat itself, but instead it merely rhymes.

Whatever your view on that, there’s now no question that the 2024 version of the North Carolina State Wolfpack is in many ways emulating the path of the 1983 team led by Sidney Lowe and Dereck Whittenburg.

On Sunday, March 31, the NC State basketball team took another massive step toward repeating the highly unlikely event that happened just over four decades ago. On Sunday, the  Wolfpack beat Duke 76 to 64 to advance to the Final Four to take on Purdue on Saturday, April 6 at 6:09 p.m. And, if successful, they’ll go on to play the winner of the Alabama and University of Connecticut winner in the game that takes place right after State’s game next Saturday night.

Just as in 1983, NC State was completely out of sight and out of mind before the ACC Tournament this year. The only way State could assure itself an NCAA bid in 1983– and in 2024 – was by winning the ACC Tournament and earning the automatic bid. This year, that was a Herculean task because, unlike in 1983, it meant beating five teams in five days.

State did that and then kept going.

The center of gravity for the team has been the huge center DJ Burns, Jr, who gets the ball, uses his large behind to slowly drive defenders toward the basket, and then gently tosses the ball in the hoop with an astonishing degree of accuracy.  Burns is a one-trick pony, but it’s a damn good trick.

State managed to advance to the final four while the two teams that many expected to be there – Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill – will be watching the games at home from Durham and Chapel Hill, while NC State will be playing before 63,000 people in State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.