North Carolina State head coach Everett Case originated the idea of the Classic. His assistant, Carl "Butter" Anderson provided the name. The tournament was played over a three-day period every December, just after Christmas, on North Carolina State's home court.
The Classic consisted of three rounds. In the first round the four North Carolina schools would each play a visiting team. The winners of the first round game would advance in the winners' bracket and the losers would advance in the losers' bracket. Each day would have four games played until the third and final day when a champion would be crowned. No team from outside North Carolina ever won the Classic.
The tournament came to an end after a point-shaving scandal in 1961 involving players from both North Carolina State and North Carolina.
In 2011 The Classic: How Everett Case and His Tournament Brought Big-Time Basketball to the South by Bethany Bradsher (ISBN 978-0-9836825-2-3) was published telling the story of the Dixie Classic.