When Indiana college basketball ruled the world


Apr. 3—With Purdue making its first Final Four since 1980, and Indiana State heading to the title game of the NIT on Thursday, I thought that it might be interesting to look at how impactful 1979 was for both schools, the last time ISU went to NCAA finals and IU and Purdue meet in the NIT at the same time. It shows how dominant the state of Indiana was in college basketball was from the mid-70s through the mid-1980s.

Most people know that Purdue and ISU share John Wooden’s legacy, as a player and coach. Wooden, and All-American and national champion at Purdue in the 1930s, got out of the Navy in 1946 and became the head baseball and basketball coach at ISU. Purdue wanted Wooden to return to West Lafayette in 1947 as an assistant to Mel Taube and take over after Taube’s contract expired. But Wooden rebuffed the offer, saying he was loyal to Taube and didn’t want to make him a lame duck coach. Shortly after that, he headed to UCLA and the rest is history.

And when Rick Mount and the Boilers finally got to the Final Four in 1969, who beat them in the championship game? John Wooden and UCLA (with a little help from Lew Alcindor).

It’s well-known that the Indiana State Sycamores greatest season was 1979 and that story has been well documented. Simply put, Larry Bird became a legend and in turn, helped change the tide of the NBA and a lot of ways, how sports are perceived and marketed today.

But during that spring, they weren’t the only major Indiana program playing in a tournament. The NIT finals featured Indiana and Purdue.

The NIT was much more powerful then, as only 40 teams made the NCAA tourney and Big 10 only had Magic Johnson and Michigan State and Iowa, make the NCAA. So, very good teams like IU and Purdue, who easily would make the NCAA tourney today, went to the NIT and were happy to do so.

That 1979 NIT championship game was won by IU after a 20-foot jump shot by Butch Carter with :04 seconds left, enabled Indiana to edge Purdue, 53-52.

The game featured the two teams…

Source link : https://sports.yahoo.com/indiana-college-basketball-ruled-world-221900773.html

Author : Washington Times-Herald, Ind.

Publish date : 2024-04-03 22:19:00

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