1. Pepperdine, NCAA first round 2000. We didn't know it at the time, but this was Bob Knight's last game at Indiana. The 2000 team frustrated. They started well, with a huge win over Kentucky, but never quite recovered from blowing a five point lead at Breslin against eventual NCAA champ Michigan State. IU also lost on the road to Dan Monson's first Minnesota team, in Joel Pryzbilla's last game for the Gophers. IU then lost in the 4/5 game of the Big Ten Tournament to Illinois, and a team that looked like it had the potential to return IU to the top echelon ended with a sixth seed.
Coincidentally, the week of the NCAA Tournament was the week that the now-defunct CNN/SI TV network finished its work on the Bob Knight expose. CNN/SI managed to obtain (from Ron Felling, if I recall correctly) a copy of the video of Knight's choke/push/adjustment of Neil Reed. Whatever one thinks or thought of Knight and his methods, that story must have put a tremendous amount of strain on the team. I hoped they would rally around the coach, but unfortunately, the Hoosiers looked like they were mailing it in, losing by 20.
2. Kansas, 1993 NCAA regional final. This was The Team. IU had won titles in 1976, 1981, and 1987. So the timing was about right. IU returned four starters from a Final Four team, finished 31-3 and 17-1 in the Big Ten, was ranked #1, and looked powerful. Unfortunately, while IU survived Alan Henderson's knee injury with only one loss and still managed to get to the Elite Eight, Kansas simply had too much. In addition to Henderson's injury, Brian Evans, the lanky perimeter player who was forced into duty as Henderson's replacement, injured a finger in the Louisville Sweet 16 game and was not effective, either. The only flaw of that team was a lack of depth. I remain fully convinced that but for the Henderson injury, IU would have held it together and won it all.
3. Colorado, 1997 NCAA first round. This game was a red flag, an indication that something was really wrong with the IU program. IU started well in 1997, whipping Duke in the PNIT and ascending inot the top 10. But again, IU limped through the Big Ten season and ended up as a #8 seed against Colorado, with Chauncey Billups, a program that hadn't been to the tournament in eons. IU was absolutely spanked, much to the chagrin of the NCAA, which had placed IU in the same bracket as #1 seed North Carolina. Dean Smith entered the NCAA Tournament one win short of Adolph Rupp. Smith broke the record against Colorado instead of Indiana.
4. Boston College, 1994 NCAA Sweet 16. IU was the five seed and knocked off Ohio and Temple in the first two rounds. As importantly, Boston College upset top seeded North Carolina in round two, and therefore the Hoosiers' opponent was a bit less formidable than expected. Again, the Hoosiers were struck by an injury at the worst possible time. In the second round game against Temple, freshman point guard Sherron Wilkerson suffered a nasty spiral fracture of his leg, and injury that would cost him a full season. Would he have been enough to push the Hoosiers past BC and then Lon Kruger's Florida team? Who knows. IU has had so much success over the years that it seems like bad form to complain about injuries, but Wilkerson's was a tough one.