In 1977, the state of North Carolina had two teams in the Final Four: UNC and UNC-Charlotte.
UNC played Jerry Tarkanian’s UNLV and won, 84-83 and UNC-Charlotte lost to Marquette 51-49 on a last second shot by Jerome Whitehead.
In the finals, UNC was favored. The Tar Heels had Walter Davis, Phil Ford, Mike O’Koren, Rich Yonaker and John Kuester. Tommy LaGarde, their best big man, was out with an injury and Ford played with an elbow issue.
Marquette started Butch Lee, Bo Ellis, Jerome Whitehead, Jim Boylan and Bill Neary.
Keep in mind that the game was quite different in the 1970’s. There was no shot clock, no three point shot and the jump ball was still in effect.
Ford, a brilliant freshman guard, gave Dean Smith the perfect player to run his four corners offense: basically, four guys would make a box away from the basket and Ford would dribble and eventually someone would cut and he’d hit that guy for an easy basket. Worked like a charm - but not against Marquette.
Al McGuire, who had announced his retirement during the season, wouldn't give up the backdoor when Smith called for his delay offense and remember, Ford had an injury.
But don’t overlook Marquette’s Butch Lee, who was also a spark plug of a point guard.
After Marquette solved the four corners, the Tar Heels really didn’t have that many answers and fell, 67-59. McGuire called the end of his career “seashells and balloons,” and then went into a long and eccentric career as a broadcaster.