Indiana is a state that loves basketball, and the Hoosiers have provided plenty of reasons to cheer over the years. The team has won five NCAA championships, all under legendary coach Bob Knight. Each title was its own unique journey, filled with unforgettable moments that will forever be etched in the memories of fans. Let’s take a look at each championship and what made them so special.
1967 – “The Season Without a Loss”
The Hoosiers’ first championship was a perfect season, one that would be remembered forever. Although there were no superstars on the team, they played together to create something truly special. They won all 29 games they played that season, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that they played against some of the toughest competition in the country.
Indiana’s most memorable game that season was undoubtedly the championship game against Big Ten rival Michigan. The two teams had split their regular-season matchups, but Indiana came out on top in the finale, winning 79-65. The win secured the Hoosiers’ first championship and proved that a team could truly achieve greatness without any individual stars.
1976 – The Perfect Season
Nine years after their first championship, the Hoosiers did it again. This time, they went undefeated throughout the entire season, becoming the first team to accomplish this since the 1939 Oregon Ducks. Led by star forward Scott May, the Hoosiers dominated their opponents night after night, often winning by double digits.
The most memorable moment of this championship run came in the title game against Michigan. The two teams had split their regular-season matchups, but in the championship game, Indiana blew the Wolverines out of the water, winning 86-68. May was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, and the Hoosiers had secured their second championship in ten years.
1981 – “The Shot”
The 1981 championship was the third for the Hoosiers, and it came in dramatic fashion. The team had struggled through much of the regular season, finishing with a lackluster 21-9 record. But once the NCAA tournament began, the Hoosiers caught fire.
In the national championship game against North Carolina, the Hoosiers found themselves down by one point with seconds left on the clock. That’s when Isiah Thomas, one of the greatest players in Indiana history, hit a jumper to give the Hoosiers the lead with just seconds remaining. The Tar Heels couldn’t answer, and Indiana had won its third championship.
1987 – “The Cinderella Run”
Although the Hoosiers had won two championships in the previous two decades, they weren’t seen as a favorite heading into the 1987 tournament. In fact, they were seeded eighth in their region and were facing a tough road to the championship.
But behind the inspired play of guard Steve Alford, the Hoosiers knocked off a series of higher-seeded teams to make it to the championship game against Syracuse. In the final, Indiana limited Syracuse to just 48 points, winning 74-73 and sending Knight into a frenzy on the sidelines. The Hoosiers had won their fourth championship, and it was perhaps the most exciting of them all.
2002 – “The Comeback”
The Hoosiers’ most recent championship came in 2002, and it was a thrilling ride to the title. Led by star point guard Jared Jeffries, Indiana entered the tournament as a five seed but quickly proved that they were a team to be reckoned with.
The most memorable moment of the championship run came in the Elite Eight game against Kent State. The Hoosiers found themselves down by 10 points with just five minutes to play, but they rallied to tie the game and force overtime. In the extra period, Indiana outscored Kent State by six to secure a 81-69 victory and a spot in the Final Four. From there, the Hoosiers took care of business, winning their fifth championship in school history.
In conclusion, the Hoosiers have been an integral part of Indiana’s basketball culture, and their five NCAA championships speak to their legacy. Each championship run was unique, and each had its moments of glory. But what they all have in common is the fierce competitive spirit and teamwork that makes the Hoosiers such a beloved team in basketball history.