March is the favorite time of year for college basketball fans. Every March, college basketball fans across the country celebrate the annual NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, otherwise known as “March Madness.” “March Madness” is upon us once again. This Sunday, March 17th marks the beginning of the “madness.” It’s selection Sunday. The next week is the start of the tournament. In celebration of the annual tournament, ESPN is giving college basketball fans a little post-Selection Sunday treat. The Sports Leader will air a very special new addition to its series of 30 for 30 film series titled, “Survive and Advance.”
“Survive and Advance” follows the unlikely story of the 1983 North Carolina State Wolfpack basketball team. It was under the direction of then coach Jim Valvano that the team became that year’s Cinderella story. It follows the team through the good, the great, and the ugly. This is an excellent way to both wind down after a big day, and get even more excited for the tournament. It opens with the members of the team—now older—getting together, remembering that incredible year. From there, ESPN and director Jonathan Hock pull from the vaults, the games that illustrated the team’s meteoric rise that season. The games are expertly set alongside interviews with team members and friends (including rival coaches Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski). While the two were rivals of each other and rivals to Coach Valvano, they share their own happy memories of that tournament and of Coach Valvano. There won’t be a dry eye in the house after hearing the memories in question.
College basketball fans will be moved by the memories shared as they are memories not just of the tournament that season, but of the man that led the Wolfpack. For those that might not know, for all the team’s success that season, it suddenly had a Goliath of a challenge to face when it was announced that Coach Valvano had been diagnosed with cancer. The second half of “Survive and Advance” balances the team’s highs and lows just as expertly as the mix of games and interviews in its first half. One of the most emotional moments of the documentary’s second half is Coach Valvano’s now famous speech at the ESPY Awards. It’s one of so many moments that will leave even the strongest of viewers moved to tears. Whether one bleeds light blue, dark blue, red and white, purple and gold, whatever the case may be, this moment was an integral part to the overall presentation. And it will leave any viewer moved. Both ESPN and [Jonathan] Hock are to be commended for making sure this memory was shared.
Even through facing the challenge of cancer and later an academic scandal, fans see the determination of Coach Valvano and the entire Wolfpack squad right to the NCAA Championship and beyond in the second half of “Survive and Advance.” Highlights of the now legendary game are included, bringing back fond memories for Wolfpack fans and college basketball fans in general of all ages. Viewers are taken through the matchup between Houston and NC State, right to its end through both the game’s footage and interviews with members of that year’s team. Of course the story doesn’t end there. Viewers are also taken through the academic scandal that followed and Coach Valvano’s eventual return for the 10th anniversary of the team’s title run and Jimmy V’s untimely passing. In those final moments of this near two hour documentary, viewers finally see why “Survive and Advance” was a perfect choice for its title. Just as Coach K said of him, he might have died, but his spirit didn’t. He might not have beaten cancer, but his legacy and that of the 1983 Wolfpack squad has survived to this day. And it will indeed advance.
“Survive and Advance” airs this Sunday night at 9pm on ESPN. To get more information on “Survive and Advance” and any other documentary in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, go online to http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30 and http://www.espn.com/30for30.
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