Count Mike Woodson among the IU basketball fans who popped open a bottle of champagne last night.
Two college basketball teams entered Tuesday with an undefeated record, and both — USC and Baylor — suffered their first defeats of the season.
Indiana’s 1976 team was the last to finish a season without a loss of course, and many celebrate each year when the final undefeated team loses.
Woodson is one of them.
“I know records are meant to be broken, but that’s one record I would never want to see broken,” Woodson said on Wednesday during a Zoom media availability.
The first year Indiana head coach began his playing career in Bloomington the year after the 1976 season, and he is close with several members of the team. In fact, Woodson likes to pick up the phone and reassure the 1976 team that their place in history is safe.
“Scott May and I talk about it all the time,” Woodson said. “Every year that we get ready for college basketball and teams start their season and they are 10-0, 13-0, I always call and say we’re going to be just fine. The record is going to be intact.”
The losses last night by Baylor and USC meant Woodson and his friends would not have to nervously keep a close watch into the spring like they did last year after Gonzaga made it all the way to the national title game before losing to Baylor.
January 11 is the second earliest date in the last ten years for every team in Division One to have at least one loss. In the 2017-18 season, the last three undefeated teams all lost on Dec. 30. IU fans watched in horror in 2015 as Kentucky threatened to end the streak before ultimately also losing in the national semifinal game.
This year Woodson won’t have to call May on Final Four weekend to provide comfort. Ultimately he doesn’t much care when every team has a loss, just so long as it happens.
“Just for selfish reasons alone, I hope that record never gets broken,” Woodson said.
The undefeated 1975-76 Indiana University basketball team was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame last year.
The team finished a perfect 32-0 and the dominant Hoosiers – coached by Hall of Famer Bob Knight – won their five NCAA Tournament games by an average of 15.2 points, including an 86-68 rout of Michigan in the national championship game.
Indiana excelled in nearly every phase of the game that season, outscoring opponents by an average of 17.3 points while shooting over 50 percent from the field and forcing an average of 20.3 turnovers per game. Six players from that Hoosier squad would eventually reach the NBA, including May, who won nearly every national player of the year award after averaging 23.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
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