1976 Indiana Hoosiers Named All-Time March Madness Team
April 5, 2013
ATLANTA - As part of the celebration of the 75th Final Four, the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers were honored as the All-Time March Madness Team by the NCAA on Friday, April 5 at the 2013 Final Four in Atlanta.
1976 Indiana Hoosiers - All-Time March Madness Team
Indiana tipped off the season with a made-for-TV game against UCLA and thumped the Bruins 84-64, then finished the Big Ten season undefeated (18-0). The Hoosiers rolled through the Midwest Regional, winning three games by an average of 11.3 points.
In the Final Four, Indiana again beat UCLA and then whipped Michigan for the national championship to cap its 32-0 season -- which remains the last undefeated season in Division I men's basketball.
Bobby Knight on undefeated '76 Hoosiers: 'They did what they were capable of doing'
The last team to go undefeated voted top team in college basketball history
- Courtesy of Bob Kravtiz, indystar.com
ATLANTA -- Everybody agrees, the 1975-76 undefeated Indiana Hoosiers were the greatest single-season team in the history of college basketball.
The Hoosiers, represented Friday by Bob Knight, Jim Crews, Tom Abernethy, Bobby Wilkerson, Scott May, Kent Benson and Quinn Buckner, were voted as the best-ever by NCAA.com, the United States Basketball Writers Association and sports information directors.
There's just one thing the players and coach can't seem to agree on.
Which was the greatest IU team? The '74-75 team, which was undefeated until Scott May broke his arm and IU lost in the NCAA Tournament to Kentucky, or the perfect Hoosiers of '75-76?
Buckner insisted the '74-75 team was superior, and would have gone undefeated and won the national title if May hadn't been injured.
"Yes, I think so, because it was deeper,'' he said. "Healthy, the '75 team was better.''
Wilkerson said no.
Crews said yes.
Knight quickly spoke up.
"This team was better; forget about what they said,'' Knight piped in. "This team was better because they were better as players. They were older. They were a year older and they had gone through something that was very close to a tremendous success.''
"Anybody want to dispute that?''
Buckner laughed. "I was about to,'' he said, "but nice job, coach.''
From Day 1, Knight had his Hoosiers thinking well beyond winning a Big Ten title or even winning an NCAA championship. He had them thinking of perfection. They were that good.
"The day before practice (in 1975), I brought you all together and I told you that the only thing that would really matter, and the only goal that we would have, would be that we went undefeated,'' Knight said. "Do you guys remember that?
"I told them that winning the Big Ten, winning the NCAA would not be what they were capable of doing. I said, `You beat everybody that we play, that would be what you guys are capable of doing.' I think it will always be their mantra, that they did what they were capable of doing."
The members of the '75-76 team rarely get together as a group; often two or three of them see one another. So it was a rare sight to see them all at a podium the day before the Final Four commences at the Georgia Dome.
"When you step on campus at 18 years old and 40 years later, you've got great relationships, the thing that you go through over 40 years, in my opinion, that's the coolest, most rewarding part," Crews said. "Relationships trump all those championships."
Said Buckner: "For me, when we won, the joy on (Knight's) face was worth all the things that you endured that made you better. That's what I really think about. ... For us, this is a second father. So it's huge.''
Unlike the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, who have a toast and a party every time the last unbeaten NFL team is vanquished, the '75-76 Hoosiers not only believe a perfect season is possible, but embrace the possibility.
"The thing we don't do, we don't celebrate anybody not having success (and) going undefeated, because for us, what we were able to do, we're very proud of, but we don't relish the fact that somebody hasn't had success doing what they try to do,'' Buckner said. "That's kind of the way Coach Knight would have us."
Can the undefeated season be duplicated?
May said yes. "I think somebody will recruit a class that will come in and stay together and play for a few years. I think it definitely will happen again."
Buckner wasn't so sure.
"It's awful difficult, as you know, with the allure of what's on the other side of college basketball, to get kids to stay," he said. "It would require that."
They were the greatest ever, for one season, one moment in time.
Who can argue?
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