The Indiana basketball 1987 National Championship was named amongst Sports Illustrated’s top title games in college basketball history.
Despite what your college basketball team did this season or how far they would have advanced in the tournament, this weekend should have been a great one for all sports fans. As the Final Four was slated for Saturday and the National Championship game on Monday, it is time to remember all of the past National Champions, including one Indiana basketball team.
Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde compiled a list of the 12 best Final Four and 12 best National Championship games in college basketball history and the Hoosiers’ 1987 team made the list.
Charles’s dunk was more sudden and Jenkins’s shot was longer—but there was more pressure on Keith Smart’s final shot than either of those. Indiana was trailing, not tied, on its final possession. Steve Alford was Indiana’s star, but Smart had already scored 10 of the Hoosiers’ last 13 points and it was clear he wanted the ball in his hands at the end against the Syracuse zone. Smart finally got his opening near the baseline from about 17 feet out, swishing the shot with four seconds left. Syracuse was left to live with the fact that it went 11-20 from the foul line, including a late Derrick Coleman miss that set up Smart’s shot.
Known as the ‘Keith Smart Shot’, Indiana won their fifth National Championship by beating Syracuse 74-73 in what was a terrific game. While it was Steve Alford’s team, Keith Smart carried Indiana in the game as he had 17 second-half points to lead the comeback.
The championship game was just the tip of the iceberg for Indiana that year as the Hoosiers took down Duke, LSU and UNLV en route to the National Championship.
On the season, Indiana finished 30-4 but was challenged all season, including those final four games of the year. From the Sweet 16 on, Indiana outscored its four opponents by just 13 points, including two one-point wins.
This would end up being Bob Knight’s final National Championship, bringing his total to three, and five for the Indiana basketball program.