To mark the 75th anniversary of March Madness, the NCAA today announced its picks for the Top 75 Players in the history of the men’s postseason basketball tournament—and among teams from Indiana, IU had far and away the best showing.
Hoosiers Scott May, Kent Benson, Isiah Thomas, Steve Alford, and Keith Smart all made the cut (more players than Kentucky has on the list, thank you very much). No other in-state school had more than a single player chosen: Larry Bird for Indiana State, Austin Carr for Notre Dame, and Shelvin Mack for Butler. (Indianapolis Crispus Attucks grad Oscar Robertson, Bloomington native Sean May, and current Pacer Tyler Hansbrough made it as well.)
Not surprisingly, IU’s unbeaten squad of 1975-76 staked its claim to a spot on the NCAA’s list of Top 25 Teams (though UCLA teams coached by John Wooden—the pride of Martinsville—earned five places).
Indiana teams and players also star on the roundup of Top 35 Moments. IU’s perfect season and Keith Smart’s 1987 championship buzzer-beater stand out, along with “Magic vs. Bird” and Butler’s underdog run of 2010. Thirteen-seed Valparaiso’s upset of Ole Miss in 1998—capped by Bryce Drew’s last-second, game-winning three-pointer—was also recognized.
One notable absence on all three March Madness lists: Purdue. (The Boilermakers did get a mention, though—for being one of the teams Virginia Commonwealth beat in its Cinderella tourney run of 2011.)
Starting in January, fans can vote for the top 15 players, plus the single greatest team and moment, on the NCAA’s website.
Keith Smart image from AP