Indiana entered its Sweet 16 matchup against Syracuse not only as a favorite in the game but also a favorite to win its first national title since 1987.
Then, Syracuse jumped out to a quick 11-3 lead and never looked back, comfortably giving Indiana a defeat in the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year.
This one had to sting for Indiana. The Hoosiers started the season ranked No. 1 in the country, and everything seemed to be in place to completely cap off the program’s rebirth under fifth-year head coach Tom Crean.
While this loss certainly was painful, how does it stack up to some of the other tough defeats in the history of Indiana basketball?
Here is a countdown of Indiana’s all-time worst defeats in the NCAA tournament.
No one expected Indiana to make a run to the title game in 2002. The Hoosiers were a No. 5 seed, and they were in the second year under Mike Davis after he took over for Bob Knight.
Indiana was led by Jared Jeffries, Dane Fife and Kyle Hornsby. In the Sweet 16, Indiana upset top-seeded Duke, 74-73. The Blue Devils were the only single-digit seed the Hoosiers would defeat on their way to the Final Four.
Once there, Indiana beat Oklahoma to set up a showdown in the title game with Maryland. The Terrapins led for the majority of the game, but Indiana made a run and took a brief lead midway through the second half at 44-42.
However, the Terrapins, behind Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter and Steve Blake, answered and ended up winning by double digits. It is the only loss Indiana has suffered in six title game appearances.
In the 1992-93 season, the Hoosiers were led by Calbert Cheaney, who was capping off his illustrious career in Bloomington as a senior. Cheaney won both the Wooden and Naismith awards as the nation’s top player, averaging 22.4 points per game while shooting 54.9 percent from the floor.
Indiana entered the NCAA tournament as the No. 1-ranked team in the country, and the Hoosiers had won 20 of their last 21 games entering their matchup with Kansas in the Elite Eight.
Earlier in the year, the Hoosiers lost to the Jayhawks, 74-69. In this matchup, Kansas shot a blistering 59.6 percent from the floor to beat Indiana 83-77. Cheaney had 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting in his final game as a Hoosier.
Indiana entered the NCAA tournament as one of the favorites to cut down the nets in Atlanta. The Hoosiers had their first No. 1 seed since 1993, and the roster blended experience with young talent.
Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo were both in the conversation for national player of the year, and seniors like Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls had been through the tough times to help make Indiana basketball a force again.
Then, the Hoosiers ran into Syracuse in the Sweet 16. The Orange caused Indiana plenty of problems with their size and length, playing their patented 2-3 zone defense. Syracuse’s talented but inconsistent point guard Michael Carter-Williams had a fantastic game, scoring 24 points with five rebounds and four steals.
Zeller had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but he was just 3-of-11 from the floor. If he decides to enter the NBA draft, it would be a tough way for Zeller to go out considering his arrival signified the reemergence of Indiana basketball.
In 1992, Indiana suffered its first loss in the Final Four under Bob Knight since 1973, falling to Duke 81-78. On top of that, Knight lost to Mike Krzyzewski, who played for Knight while at Army.
The Hoosiers jumped out to a 12-point lead in the first half. Then, Duke went on a 31-6 run to seemingly take control of the game.
Four players had fouled out for Indiana, but the Hoosiers made things interesting down the stretch. Behind some hot shooting from Todd Leary, Indiana trailed by just three in the final minute.
Duke had the ball, but Bobby Hurley stepped out of bounds to give Indiana a chance to tie the game. Jamal Meeks then missed a three-point attempt that would have tied the game, sending Indiana to a heartbreaking defeat.
The 1974-75 Indiana Hoosiers are one of the best college basketball teams in history that did not win a national title.
Indiana was undefeated and rolling through the Big Ten schedule. The Hoosiers won all their conference games by an average of 22.8 points per game.
In a game at Purdue late in the regular season, All-American forward Scott May broke his left arm. He was able to return but was not effective, wearing a cast on his left arm.
Indiana faced Kentucky in the Mideast regional final. The Hoosiers had beaten the Wildcats by 20 earlier in the year, but with May limited, Kentucky beat Indiana 92-90.
Of course, the Hoosiers would rebound the following year to go undefeated and cut down the nets for Bob Knight’s first title as a coach. However, that moment should have come a year earlier.