Four Corners: How UNC, N.C. State, Duke, and Wake Forest Made North Carolina the Center of the Basketball Universe

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For sheer intensity and excitement, few contests can match a college basketball game—unless it's one played between two in-state, longtime conference foes separated by only a few miles of the hoops highway known as"Tobacco Road." The four major Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) schools in North Carolina have won eight NCAA titles and continue to dominate the modern college game like no other area in the country. The winners of three national titles, the North Carolina Tar Heels have been a basketball powerhouse since the 1950s. Longtime coach Dean Smith and his famous "Four Corners" offense changed how the game was played and ultimately forced the introduction of the shot clock. Down the road, the N.C. State Wolfpack won two national championships, and their coach Jimmy Valvano brought an extroverted enthusiasm to coaching still recalled with fondness and admiration. A powerhouse of big-time college basketball for five decades, the Duke Blue Devils, coached by Vic Bubas and later Mike Krzyzewski, have been to twelve Final Fours and have won three NCAA titles since 1991. In Winston-Salem the Wake Forest Demon Deacons have produced eleven All-Americans, ten ACC Players of the Year, and scores of successful NBA players. Collectively the Big Four have made North Carolina the center of the basketball universe. This is their story.