Twenty years. It had been twenty years since Indiana last won an outright Big Ten title. Since then the Hoosiers had seen four different head coaches including the firing of the legendary Bob Knight. The program had fallen into complete ruin under Kelvin Sampson and suffered through three years of hell as Tom Crean attempted to resurrect it.
Twenty years meant that the players on the 2012-13 Indiana Hoosiers were either not yet born or still in diapers in 1993 when IU mowed through the competition with a 17-1 Big Ten record. Needless to say, it had been a while.
Even shares of Big Ten titles were a rarity over the last 20 years. Prior to its regular season ending game against Michigan at Ann Arbor, the Hoosiers had already clinched at least a share of the conference crown. And they celebrated that share — after a senior night home loss to Ohio State. And they heard the criticism of that celebration. Suddenly, anything short of an outright title was going to feel like a disappointment.
INDIANA VS. MICHIGAN, PART I
Indiana and Michigan had met 5 weeks earlier and it was a must-see event in Bloomington. It was a Saturday night with ESPN Gameday on campus. Michigan was ranked No. 1 and Indiana No. 3. Future NBA players were everywhere including Glenn Robinson III, Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary and Caris Levert. for Michigan; and Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Yogi Ferrell for Indiana. This game was a big deal and the energy inside Assembly Hall was as good as it gets.
Burke and Hardaway would prove to be difficult to contain as they combined for 43. That was enough to keep Michigan in the game throughout. Indiana was able to pull away at the end with a great balanced effort including 19 from Zeller, 15 from Oladipo, and 14 from Ferrell and Christian Watford. IU won it, 81-73.
Strange as it may seem, perhaps the most memorable play from this game was a missed alley-oop:
MARCH 10, 2013 — THE REMATCH
The rematch would find Indiana ranked No. 2 and Michigan No. 7. Ohio State and Michigan State were counting on a Michigan victory to claim a share of the Big Ten title along with Indiana and Michigan. A crazed home crowd in Ann Arbor was ready to help the Wolverines do just that.
Indiana got off to a strong start and led 10-3 when a Yogi Ferrell bucket followed a pair of 3-pointers from Jordan Hulls. The early success didn’t last long, as the Wolverines took control in the first half with a 12-0 run. Nick Stauskas got things rolling with a pair of 3-pointers. Michigan would run out to an 11 point lead in the first half but IU would claw back before halftime with a 14-6 run of its own. Michigan led 33-30 at the half. The 11 point Michigan lead was the biggest any team had against the Hoosiers all year to that point.
Michigan would once again run out to a 2nd half lead, and once again the Hoosiers would have an answer. It was becoming clear that this game would come down to the final possession. Or would it? After a Victor Oladipo layup gave the Hoosiers’ a 66-64 lead, Michigan scored six unanswered to take a four-point lead into the final minute. It was looking like the Wolverines had things under control.
An Indiana turnover led to a breakaway for Glenn Robinson III before he was fouled by Christian Watford. That foul was reviewed as a possible flagrant but was ultimately determined to be a common foul. While it looked like the officials got it right, that determination would prove to be key. Robinson would make 1 of 2 to extend the lead to 71-66.
From here Cody Zeller and Michigan free throw shooting would become the story of the game. Zeller would put back his own miss to pull IU to within 71-68.
Michigan was not yet in the double bonus so it would be forced to hit the front end of one and one free throws or give the ball right back to Indiana. The Hoosiers fouled Tim Hardaway, Jr., a 70% free throw shooter. He missed the front end. Zeller would get fouled on the other end and he hit both shots to pull the Hoosiers to within one, 71-70.
IU then fouled Trey Burke who was an 80% free throw shooter. He missed too. This gave IU the ball right back with :25 seconds remaining and a chance to take the lead. Indiana went right back to Zeller, who caught a nice post pass from Ferrell and hit a layup for the one point lead, 72-71.
With about :10 seconds remaining and no timeouts, Michigan would have one last chance for the win and a share of the Big Ten title. Burke took the ball up the floor and attacked the basket, but his shot at the rim was way off after a strong challenge by Zeller. Michigan’s Jordan Morgan was there for the put back but his shot hung on the rim before finally rolling out. Indiana was then able to secure the rebound and run out the clock for the outright title!
Game Note: Victor Oladipo would end up with 13 rebounds from the guard position, part of Indiana’s 53-30 rebounding edge on the day. It was their largest rebounding margin of the season.
POST GAME FIREWORKS
The drama didn’t end when the final buzzer sounded. When the coaches shook hands after the game, Tom Crean appeared to seek out Jeff Meyer, who was a former IU assistant coach during the Kelvin Sampson era.
When he found Meyer, Crean was heard on camera saying:
“You know what you did,” Crean said. “You helped wreck the program.
“You helped wreck that program.”
It seems that Crean had been saving this for some time. Perhaps Meyer was top of mind for Crean when he suffered through the miserable 2008-2011 stretch. Crean called Meyer before leaving Ann Arbor to apologize and then publicly apologized the next day:
“I talked to him on the telephone, and we discussed a couple of things,” Crean said the next day on the Big Ten weekly teleconference. “I apologized for that, and in retrospect, wish I never would have addressed anything in the heat of battle after a game.”
WATCH THE FINAL MINUTES WITH DON FISCHER ON THE CALL
You can follow us on Twitter: @daily_hoosier
Find us on Facebook: thedailyhoosier