On Indiana’s Senior Night nine years ago, when the graduating players of the 2001-02 men’s basketball team were given a chance to publicly thank the fans for their support throughout the season, senior guard Dane Fife took to the microphone in Assembly Hall and promised the fans a national championship. I was there, and I turned to a longtime friend of mine with a dumbfounded look on my face — because it seemed preposterous. As it turned out, the defensive-minded Fife was serious, and so was that Indiana University team.
The Hoosiers lost 11 games that year, and no one was picking Indiana to go very far. But somehow they kept winning. They stunned Duke in a crazy Sweet Sixteen game 74-73. Then they hit 15 three-pointers in the Elite Eight game against Kent State, the most incredible shooting performance I’ve ever seen in person, and went on to beat No. 2 seed Oklahoma in the Final Four. Finally, IU was overmatched in the championship game by No. 1 seed Maryland, losing 64-52. Still, that IU squad remains one of the most surprising tournament teams of all time.