This is the fourteenth Big Ten-ACC Challenge, and it is IU's twelfth appearance in the event. Bob Knight famously despised made-for-TV events such as this one created by his current employer, but in Mike Davis's second season as head coach, IU participated in the event and has never been excluded since. All-time, IU is 4-7 in the event, including 1-3 at home, 2-4 on the road, and 1-0 in the lone neutral court matchup (there have been no neutral court games since Michigan State and North Carolina played at Ford Field in 2008). Here's a quick rundown of each of game. It is truly frightening that after tonight's game I will have been blogging for half of IU's Big Ten/ACC appearances.
2001: Indiana 79, North Carolina 66 (Chapel Hill): tonight will be the third IU-UNC meeting in the Challenge, and the road team has prevailed in each of the first two games. The win at the Dean Smith Center isn't as impressive as it sounds. While Matt Doherty won national coach of the year in 2001, the loss to IU dropped UNC to 0-3 on the season, having already lost home games to Davidson and Hampton. The 2001-02 Hoosiers, of course, had an up-and-down pre-conference season but ultimately won a share of the Big Ten title (still IU's most recent) and advanced to the NCAA Championship game. Anyone who remembers that team will be unsurprised to recall that IU built an insurmountable lead by hitting 9 first half three pointers. AJ Moye led IU with 20 points, and Tom Coverdale added 17.
2002: Indiana 80, Maryland 74 (Indianapolis): In a rematch of the previous season's NCAA title game, IU gained a small measure of revenge against Maryland. A 55 foot heave by Steve Blake at the buzzer was waved off, and the Hoosiers prevailed in overtime. Tom Coverdale led IU with 30 points, and Jeff Newton added 17 points and 14 boards.
2003: Wake Forest 100, Indiana 67 (Winston-Salem): This game was the beginning of a four-game losing streak for IU in the Challenge, and a bad early season moment for what ended up being IU's first losing team in a generation. Future NBA star Chris Paul dominated the Hoosiers, although Bracey Wright led the way for IU with 27 points. And yes, I know what you are thinking, but it actually was a solid performance: 7-15 from the field, 4-7 from deep, 9-10 from the line.
2004: North Carolina 70, Indiana 63 (Bloomington): The botched/failed/harpooned recruitment of Sean May, the son of IU legend Scott May, made apparent that Mike Davis was not going to make it in Bloomington. May and his North Carolina Tar Heels came to Bloomington during May's junior season, which eventually ended with an NCAA title and May being named the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player. May was heckled throughout the game and did not respond well. He was 2-7 from the field and scored eight points. Obviously, he got the last laugh, and his assessment of Mike Davis was prescient (although he was fortunate to finish his career playing for Roy Williams instead of the maniacal Doherty).
2005: Duke 75, Indiana 67: Mike Davis's last IU team gave top-ranked Duke a fight, but it wasn't enough. After spotting Duke a big lead, IU came back and briefly took the lead on a dunk by Marco Killingsworth, which was one of the top moments of the dark years between the 2002 Final Four and the 2011 Kentucky win. Killingsworth led IU with 34 points. Here's a Youtube to give you a flavor of what Mike Krzyzewski called the loudest atmosphere he has seen outside of Cameron Indoor Stadium.
2006: Duke 54, Indiana 51 (Durham): IU's only trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium for the Challenge include an IU comeback that wasn't quite enough. The Hoosiers held Duke without a field goal for the final five minutes but couldn't ever tie. Armon Bassett led IU with 16 points. The stifling defense of the Kelvin Sampson era is what I prefer to remember about those times.
2007: Indiana 83, Georgia Tech 79 (Bloomington): In a lackluster matchup considering the quality of IU's 2007-08 team, the Hoosiers held off a mediocre Georgia Tech team. Now is the time when I begin to quote myself. This passage is most chosen for the impending-trainwreck feeling generated by these names:
2008: Wake Forest 83, Indiana 58 (Winston-Salem): A year later, not a single scholarship player from the Georgia Tech game remained, and it was ugly.
The game was tied 20-20 after the first 10 minutes of the game, but Wake Forest 27-11 for the rest of the half, and that was that. I was hoping that perhaps took good care of the ball during that stretch, but I count 8 turnovers in the first 10 minutes. Mostly, it seems that Wake was even sloppier, with nine in that stretch. Indeed, Wake was nearly as sloppy, turning the ball over 24 times to 26. Even the rebounding numbers weren't in Wake's favor: the teams had identical offensive rebounding percentages. The difference is that Wake scored at will, shooting 60 percent to 37 percent on nearly identical shot totals. Quite simply, Matt Roth's 12 points on 4-5 from the field were only offensive success story.
Other than Roth, Malik Story was the only other Hoosier to score in double figures. While that season seems like a million years ago, Story still is playing college basketball, for Nevada, where he is averaging 16 points per game.
2009: Maryland 80, Indiana 68 (Bloomington): Both programs were far from their championship caliber of the prior meeting, although IU obviously had endured a more precipitous drop. IU and their future conference and division foe played toe to toe for the first 32 minutes but Maryland dominated when it counted:
Indiana and Maryland were tied at 54 with 8:54 remaining, but the Terrapins exploded for 26 points in the final nine minutes to put away the Hoosiers. As the articles in the headlines post make clear, Tom Crean was quite dissatisfied with the Hoosiers' defense, and it seemed that Maryland made a layup or a five foot jumper on every possession of those final ten minutes. Maryland scored 38 of its 80 points in the paint and shot 56 percent from the field in the second half.
2010: Boston College 80, Indiana 68 (Chestnut Hill): In one of the more disappointing Challenge performances, a young IU team spotted BC a huge lead, made a big comeback, and then fell apart again.
Indiana's first half performance at Boston College in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge was exactly what might be expected of a young team that had not yet played on the road or against major conference competition. The Hoosiers trailed by 14 at halftime, but pulled to within a point on multiple occasions in the second half. Still, the Eagles' shooting and rebounding presented too much of a challenge, and IU fell 88-76. After IU pulled to within 1 point on a Jordan Hulls jumper with 5:44 remaining, the Hoosiers didn't score another field goal until the 1:53 mark, at which point BC had extended its lead to an insurmountable 13 point margin.
Despite the loss, Good Watford was in evidence. He led the way with 23 points.
2011: Indiana 86, NC State 75 (Raleigh): This game was played at the RBC Center in Raleigh, the site of IU's sleepwalking 2008 NCAA Tournament appearance. IU's win over NCSU showed that the Hoosiers might be back on the path to the NCAA.
IU overcame a 7-point second half deficit to gut out an excellent road win against NC State in Raleigh. This was, above all, a very entertaining game marked by scoring runs by each team. The Hoosiers exploded out of the gate, leading 25-14 with 14:00 left in the first half. NC State slowly whittled that lead away, and took its first lead at the buzzer on a CJ Leslie tip-in. IU hung with the Wolfpack throughout the second half, when NC State suddenly found itself with a 7 point lead with 7:48 to go. I'll admit that I thought IU was toast at that point, but IU then finished the game the way it started, going on a 30-12 run to finish things.
As much fun as it was, the game looked even better in retrospect, when the Wolfpack qualified for the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16. Well, that's IU's history in this event. After a good start, the Hoosiers have lost seven of their last nine in this event. The Challenge doesn't matter as much as a Big Ten title, NCAA Tournament accomplishments, or even the Big Ten Tournament, but it would be nice for the Hoosiers to firmly announce their relevance with a win over the Tar Heels tonight.