March Memories 2: Electric Boogaloo

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

1985 was the first year the NCAA went to the full 64 team field. However, for the Big Ten it was a rather sour year. Six teams were given bids, but a 3-3 opening round dampened spirits in a hurry:

It got even worse in the round of 32 as conference champ and 1-seeded Michigan was upset by 8-seed (but eventual national champ) Villanova. [Also, OSU went out in a 4/5 game to a mid-major that will get its due in a moment.]

Only Illinois got out of the first weekend. The Illini (3) fell to Georgia Tech (2) in the Sweet 16. [That Georgia Tech team, led by Mark Price and John Salley, are one of the few (only?) teams to beat Dean Smith 3 times in a single season.]


The focus of the 1985 retrospective are the two Midwest Regional semifinals, played in Dallas, TX (note the awesome old school Mavericks logo in the footage).

In particular, let's discuss 1-seed Oklahoma vs. 5-seed (and aforementioned slayer of OSU) Louisiana Tech. Oklahoma had just turned in its second straight 13-1 Big 8 title campaign and were led by junior scoring sensation Wayman Tisdale. Nobody is going to touch Pete Maravich's all-time college scoring record, but Tisdale was the closest thing since, racking up 2661 points in only three seasons (still good for 30th all-time despite playing only three seasons). Tisdale went on to be the #2 draft pick in the 1985 draft, He had a fine pro career, but plenty of people who went later in the first round had equal or better pro careers: Chris Mullin, Terry Porter, Detlef Schrempf, A.C. Green, Joe Dumars, and...Louisiana Tech's star player, Karl Malone.

La. Tech entered this game 29-2, but still a bit of a curiosity. They had an early season win over perennial powerhouse Louisville, but Louisville had a disappointing season and missed the tournament. When you add in that Oklahoma already had a 12 point regular season win over La. Tech (at a "neutral" site), the Sooners were expected to advance.

If you have a little time and want to maximize the flavor of the game, pick it up at 1:20:30. The Sooners lead 60-54 and go to a bit of Four Corners (this was the last year without a shot clock). You will soon see a throwback play under rules that are no longer in effect: a charge (pretty bad call, honestly), where the offense gets the bucket because the shot was released before the charge, but the the defense then gets to shoot FTs.

(If you want the short version, just skip to the OT and see a shot that gives Kawhi Leonard's four-bouncer against the Sixers last year a run for its money.)


The nightcap featured 2-seed Memphis State (as they were called then) taking on 11-seed Boston College (who, coached by Gary Williams, had upset 3-seed Duke in the round of wonder Maryland hired the guy).

At this point, we must pause for a second to note that Memphis State was perhaps the dirtiest program in the country at this point--which was saying something. Dana Kirk put up a wall around Memphis and built a budding powerhouse. The 1985 team made the Final Four after '82-'84 all ended in the Sweet 16. But this was as good as it got for Memphis in this era. The next year the NCAA put Memphis State on probation and Kirk was convicted in federal court of multiple counts of tax evasion, mail fraud, etc. (you know how it goes). Like many teams in that era, they built around size in the post. Keith Lee (1985) and William Bedford (1986) were both 1st round picks.

You should also know the their frontcourt mate was named Baskerville Holmes. Seriously. (Though his life was rather tragic.)

In any even, it was a close game, but I will share only a three minute clip. It is enough to show you why the Four Corners stall game drove fans mad: