NCAAB Indiana Hoosiers

NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: Big Ten
Past Conferences: Western

City: Bloomington, IN

Stadium: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall

NCAA Tournaments: 1940, 1953, 1954, 1958, 1967, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2022

Championships: 

National Championships: 5

Conference Titles: 0

Team History

One of five men’s basketball programs in the country with as many as five national championships, the Indiana Hoosiers are truly one of the game’s blue-blood programs, although it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the past couple of decades.

 

The program limped out of the gate in the old Western Conference, the precursor to the Big Ten, before hitting its stride in the 1920s and 1930s under Everett Dean. He left to coach Stanford in 1938 but had laid the groundwork for the program’s first NCAA Tournament crown in 1940.

 

That squad, featuring a fast-break style put in by head coach Branch McCracken, would win 20 games -a college hoops record- until another Indiana squad broke it in 1952-53 en route to a second national title.

 

The 1953 champs, led by three-time All-American Don Schlundt, raced to the finals against defending champs Kansas. In a tight contest, Hoosiers guard Bobby Leonard went to the line with 27 seconds left. After missing the first foul shot, he hit the second, creating the final margin and giving McCracken another crown. 

 

Winning the Big Ten 

Indiana won the Big Ten four times in the 1950s under McCracken and would do so again in 1967, shortly after he retired. That team snapped an eight-year NCAA Tournament drought, but the visit to the Big Dance was one and done and the next five seasons resulted in just one NIT visit – also a one-and-done experience.

 

That 1972 NIT trip, however, came at a watershed moment for the program, for guiding that team back into a postseason event was first-year head coach Bobby Knight.

 

One of the most divisive, mercurial, controversial and successful coaches in the game’s history, Knight made Indiana into a powerhouse that would largely dominate the sport for over a decade. 

 

Indiana won the Big Ten in Knight’s second season and knocked off Marquette and Kentucky to reach the Final Four for the first time since the 1953 title run. NCAAB odds were getting better with time under the man called “The General,” although the 1973-74 team took part in -and won- the short-lived NCIT event.

 

The era of dominance truly began in 1974-75 with an Indiana team that went 18-0 in the Big Ten and was 31-0 before falling to Kentucky in an Elite Eight game. That would be the last Indiana loss over more than 20 months, as the 1975-76 squad went undefeated in one of the greatest seasons in the game’s history.

 

No. 1 in the Polls

Led by Scott May, Kent Benson and Tom Abernathy -a front line that averaged a combined 50.8 points per game- Indiana opened the season No. 1 in the polls and never left that spot. Three of its first four games were wins over ranked rivals UCLA, Notre Dame and Kentucky.

 

The Hoosiers survived scares against Michigan, Purdue and Ohio State during the Big Ten slate, but they were barely challenged in the NCAA Tournament. Another victory over UCLA in the national semifinals set up a third matchup with the Wolverines, but this one wasn’t particularly close. May and Benson combined for 51 points and Indiana scored 57 as a team in the second half alone in an 86-68 triumph.

 

Knight scored a massive recruiting win by getting a star Chicago guard by the name of Isiah Thomas to head a few hours south to Bloomington to start his career in 1979-80. That squad claimed another Big Ten regular season title and one win in the NCAA Tournament before bowing out to in-state rival Purdue.

 

Thomas returned for his sophomore season and promptly guided Knight’s team to a second national crown in six years – the fourth in the program’s history. Thomas had 23 points, five assists and four steals in a championship game win over a North Carolina team featuring James Worthy and Sam Perkins.

 

Thomas left after just two seasons but Knight quickly rebuilt and had his team back in the title game by 1987 behind sharpshooter Steve Alford. A three-time, All-Big Ten first-team selection, Alford shot a remarkable 53.0% from 3-point range that season, the first in which it was part of the college game.

 

Smart’s Jumper Gets Title #5

It wasn’t Alford who made the big shot in the title game, however. That honor went to Keith Smart, whose jumper from the wing against Syracuse lifted Indiana to title number five, the third for Knight in a span of 12 seasons.

 

That championship came in the second of 18 straight seasons in which Indiana went to the NCAA Tournament, the seventh-longest streak in men’s college basketball history. However, Knight never got past the second round in each of his final six seasons and was ousted in 2000 following another in a line of indiscretions related to his infamous temper and desire for unflinching discipline.

 

The sting of the controversial firing was somewhat soothed by the team’s return to the national title game under new head coach Mike Davis in 2002. But a loss to Maryland in which Indiana Hoosiers team stats showed a 34.3% mark from the floor and a brutal 2-for-7 showing at the foul line ended that run, and glory has been hard to come by ever since.

 

Davis lasted a few more seasons before Kelvin Sampson took over before the 2006-07 season. The former Oklahoma coach immediately upped the talent level with his seemingly sharp recruiting skills, but those very skills put him in hot water with the NCAA, which found numerous violations.

 

Sampson’s Violations & Probationary Period

Sampson didn’t even last two seasons and the program was stripped bare following his exit amid a probationary period. Tom Crean, who had taken Marquette to three straight NCAA Tournaments, was brought in to clean up the mess. With a roster featuring multiple walk-ons, the Hoosiers went 6-25 in 2008-09, a bottoming out for a once-proud program.

 

Crean slowly built Indiana back into a winner and by 2013 he had himself a Big Ten regular season crown, as well as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That team featured future NBA standouts Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, as well as the program’s all-time assists leader, Yogi Ferrell.

 

After a Sweet 16 trip in 2016, the Hoosiers would miss the tournament each season until 2022 under first-year head coach Mike Woodson. A star player for the Hoosiers whose four-year career, unfortunately, fell entirely between the 1976 and 1981 titles, Woodson enjoyed a solid NBA career before winning 315 games as an NBA coach for Atlanta and New York.

 

The all-time Indiana great has the program pointed in the right direction. With the return of preseason All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis, betting tips suggest that the 2022-23 Hoosiers squad will be among the best in the Big Ten.

All-Time Records

  • Points Scored

    • Calbert Cheaney: 2,613

    • Steve Alford: 2,438

    • Don Schlundt: 2,192

 

  • Rebounds

    • Alan Henderson: 1,091

    • Walt Bellamy: 1,087

    • Kent Benson: 1,031

 

  • Assists

    • Yogi Ferrell: 633

    • Michael Lewis: 545

    • Quinn Buckner: 542

 

  • Wins

    • Bob Knight: 659

    • Branch McCracken: 364

    • Tom Crean: 166

FAQs

  1. What Is the Highest Win Total in Program History?

 

One of a handful of undefeated national champions, the 1975-76 Hoosiers went 32-0. 

 

  1. What Was the Worst Season in Program History?

 

Tom Crean would take four Indiana teams to the NCAA Tournament in his nine seasons at the helm, but it would take time cleaning up a scandal that placed the program on probation. In his first season, the Hoosiers went 6-25 with a depleted roster. They were 1-17 in Big Ten play.

 

  1. Who Is the Greatest Player in Program History?

 

Steve Alford, Calbert Cheaney, and a few others are more than worthy choices here, but, for sheer impact -even though it was only for two seasons- we can’t go against Isiah Thomas.

 

The Hall of Famer still holds program records for assists per game (5.7) and steals per game (2.2). He averaged 16.0 points and 5.8 assists in his sophomore season, leading the Hoosiers to a national title. The flashy point guard posted averages of 18.2 points and 8.6 assists while shooting nearly 60 percent in the NCAA Tournament that year.

 

Thomas was a 12-time All-Star and two-time NBA champ during a phenomenal pro career.

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