History lesson

One team has college basketball's No. 1 ranking, an imposing 7-footer and a super-smooth guard. The other team has a bunch of unheralded players led by a coach with an ethnic background and a dynamic personality.

Ohio State versus Tennessee in the 2007 NCAA Sweet 16? It could be. Or it could be Houston versus North Carolina State in the 1983 NCAA title game. There certainly are some intriguing similarities in the two matchups. Consider:

The 1983 Houston Cougars featured the NCAA's premier big man, 7-foot Hakeem Olajuwon. The 2007 Ohio State Buckeyes feature the NCAA's premier big man, 7-foot Greg Oden.

The '83 Cougars featured one of the NCAA's slickest guards, Clyde "The Glide" Drexler. The '07 Buckeyes feature one of the NCAA's slickest guards, Mike Conley, Jr.

The '83 Cougars were a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament. The '07 Buckeyes are a No. 1 for this year's NCAA Tournament.

The '83 North Carolina State Wolfpack was a No. 6 seed for the NCAA Tournament. The '07 Tennessee Vols are a No. 5 seed for the NCAA Tournament.

The '83 Wolfpack upset a higher-seeded Virginia team 63-62 seven days before facing Houston. The 2007 Tennessee Vols upset a higher-seeded Virginia team 77-74 four days before facing Ohio State.

The '83 Wolfpack was coached by Jim Valvano, a glib New York City native who attended Rutgers University. The '07 Vols are coached by Bruce Pearl, a glib Boston native who attended Boston College.

Valvano celebrated his 47th birthday March 10, 1983, 25 days before facing Houston. Pearl celebrated his 47th birthday March 18, 2007, four days before facing Ohio State.

The '83 Wolfpack carried a 25-10 record into its game with Houston. The '07 Vols carry a 24-10 record into their game with Ohio State.

The N.C. State-Houston game was held in the Southwest city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Vol-Ohio State game will be held in the Southwest City of San Antonio, Texas.

Tennessee fans can only hope the similarities don't stop there. Valvano's Wolfpack stunned the favored Cougars 54-52 to win the NCAA title. Should Pearl's Vols stun the favored Buckeyes Thursday night, they'll win their way to the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time in program history.


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