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IU Basketball: Memorable Hoosier St. Patrick’s Day NCAA Tournament Games

On March 17 last year Indiana learned that it was not invited to the NCAA Tournament.

This year on St. Patrick’s Day, there simply is no NCAA Tournament.

There have been better, or at least in one case, more memorable days on the 17th of March for IU.  Here are four of the more noteworthy Indiana NCAA Tournament games on St. Patrick’s Day.

March 17, 1953 — Indiana 80  Louisiana State 67

The No. 1 Hoosiers advanced to the 1953 national title game behind a strong effort from stars Don Schlundt and Bobby Leonard.  Schlundt led the Hoosiers with 29 points, including a 13-of-17 day at the free throw line.  Leonard added 22 points and was 9-of-12 from the field at the Final Four contest in Kansas City, Mo.

Branch McCracken’s Hurryin’ Hoosiers shot 47.2 percent from the field and held the No. 7 Tigers to just 31.4 percent.  IU was able to withstand a 29 point effort by All-American and future Hall of Fame inductee Bob Pettit.

IU’s Dick Farley tries to score over LSU’s Bob Pettit. Photo Credit – IU Archives

March 17, 1973 — Indiana 72  Kentucky 65

Second year IU head coach Bob Knight reached his first Final Four with an Elite Eight win over No. 17 Kentucky in Nashville, Tenn.

Steve Downing led No. 6 Indiana with 23 points and 13 rebounds, and freshman point guard Quinn Buckner added 16 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.  Steve Green and John Laskowski pitched in with 14 and 10 points, respectively.

Kentucky only attempted four free throws for the game, and a 10-3 IU advantage at the stripe was the difference.

Jim Andrews had 23 points and 10 rebounds in a losing effort for Kentucky, which was under the direction of first-year coach Joe B. Hall.

John Ritter, Bob Knight and Steve Downing after a 1973 Elite 8 win. Photo Credit – IU Archives

March 17, 2000 — Pepperdine 77  Indiana 57

27 years to the day after reaching his first Final Four, Knight coached his last game for Indiana.

IU missed 12 of their first 14 shots and fell behind by 16 midway through the first half.  A knee injury to star forward Kirk Haston early in the first half and just three-points from All-American A.J. Guyton were too much to overcome.

Indiana closed the season by losing six of its last nine games. This one came on the heels of a week of controversy in which Knight was accused by former players Neil Reed and Richard Mandeville of physically and verbally abusing them during their time on the team.

Image result for knight pepperdine 2000

March 17, 2012 — Indiana 63  Virginia Commonwealth 61

Indiana got back to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2002 with a late rally against VCU.

Christian Watford and Cody Zeller led IU with 16 points apiece.

The Hoosiers trailed 59-54 with under three minutes remaining, but a basket by Zeller and then a three-point play from Victor Oladipo helped Indiana tie the game with under a minute to go.

Oladipo found Will Sheehey in transition for a 10-foot jumper in the final seconds as IU pulled out a thriller.


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