Survive and Advance

“Survive and Advance” tells the thrilling tale of the NC State Wolfpack’s unexpected journey to the 1983 NCAA Basketball Championship. Head coach Jim Valvano leads a team against the odds, challenging sports history.

And, years later, Jimmy V. faces a personal battle that’s perhaps even more impactful on the world.

Trailer for 30 for 30’s “Survive and Advance

Where to Watch Survive and Advance?

“Survive and Advance was on Season 2/Episode 7 of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. You can watch it online at:

You can also go buy the Survive and Advance DVD ($10.24 last I checked) here.


  • Genre: College Basketball, Cancer, Inspiring
  • Release Date: March 17, 2013
  • Director: Jonathan Hock
  • Duration: 101 minutes

My Favorite Parts (Includes Spoiler Alerts!)

  • Coach Valvano’s dad told him (every year during his NCAA career) “my bags are packed…you’re gonna make it”
  • Sports illustrated called the NC State 1983 championship the greatest college basketball moment of the 20th century
  • NC State’s championship year was first year of 3 point line in NCCA
  • Coach Jimmy V. has the team do one practice per season in which they don’t touch the ball. Instead, they (and coach) practice cutting down the net.
  • Before the NCAA finals game against Houston, Jimmy V tells the press that NC State is going to “hold the ball” and slow things down.
  • But, in Jimmy V’s pre-game speech, he tells his players that they’re not going to hold the ball. They’re going to come out running and shove it down Houston’s throat.
  • NC state uses the triangle and two and it’s Ralph Sampson in Virginia. It’s the first time Virginia’s faced this all season
  • Jim Valvano’s fiery spirit ignites the team.
  • Final seconds… Dereck Whittenburg’s short shot, Lorenzo Charles’ dunk.. NC State beats powerhouse Houston in finals. Unthinkable!
  • Jimmy V’s ESPY speech is arguably best motivational speech of all time. Coach K. flew with Jimmy V. to the ESPYS. “He’s throwing up the whole flight. Pam [Jimmy’s wife] had this big bag that was his throw-up bag.” “There’s no way I ever thought he’d do a speech that night.”
  • Jimmy Valvano, over the years, walked around with index cards in his jacket pocket. For example one was “win the NCAA championship” and another, his last one, was “beat cancer”

In case you want to know who NC State beat on their way to the championship, here it is:

  • First Round: NC State defeated Pepperdine, 69-67 in double overtime.
  • Second Round: NC State defeated UNLV, 71-70.
  • Sweet 16: NC State defeated Utah, 75-56.
  • Elite 8: NC State defeated Virginia, 63-62. This victory was especially notable because Virginia, led by Ralph Sampson, was a powerhouse team that year.
  • Final Four: NC State defeated Georgia, 67-60.
  • Championship Game: NC State defeated Houston, 54-52. This game is particularly memorable for the dramatic ending where Dereck Whittenburg threw a desperation shot that was caught and dunked by Lorenzo Charles as time expired, giving NC State the win.

Thank you for reading.

-Rob Kelly