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HOORAY FOR THE HOOSIERS
Curry Kirkpatrick
March 10, 1980
Holding the ball aloft, Ray Tolbert and his Indiana teammates walked off with the Big Ten crown by beating Ohio State
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March 10, 1980

Hooray For The Hoosiers

Holding the ball aloft, Ray Tolbert and his Indiana teammates walked off with the Big Ten crown by beating Ohio State

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Last week, with only one game remaining before his team's day of destiny with Ohio State, Knight committed a blunder: he over-practiced the Hoosiers. Against Wisconsin last Thursday night Indiana was flat and fell behind 44-41 with 7:20 left in the game. "We were three strokes ahead of the shark and the shark almost got us," Knight said.

But one after another, the Badger starters fouled out, until Wisconsin had nobody left to combat the Hoosiers. Indiana scored only six baskets in the second half but made 25 of 28 from the line (16 by Woodson and Thomas). The Hoosiers won 61-52, setting up the Ohio State showdown.

It was not exactly astonishing that Indiana and Ohio State should be meeting for the title, the Hoosiers and Buckeyes being the Steelers and Oilers of college basketball in a league that is reminiscent of the AFC Central. The two schools have won four of the Big Ten's six NCAA championships, and they have accounted for 12 of the conference's 24 appearances in the NCAA final four.

Respect is mutual, of course, as is the long-standing, frenzied desire of each to whomp the other. Ohio State Coach El-don Miller has the added incentive of wanting to crush the mystique of Knight, the sport's most feared tactician. To Indiana's volatile genius the rivalry means even more; surely it is burned deep within his soul.

Knight was born in Ohio. He played for Ohio State. One of Knight's greatest non-military, father-figure heroes is Fred Taylor, who was the coach at Ohio State for 18 years. In 1977, when Taylor was shoved into the physical education department without so much as a ceremonial farewell, an angry Knight produced his own Taylor tribute at Indiana. When some of OSU's influential boosters arranged a meeting with Knight to talk about the Buckeye coaching position and the Ohio State athletic director didn't even bother to show up, a steaming Knight got even angrier. Thus he likes nothing better than to beat Ohio State, which he had done in six of the last seven games, including the 1979 NIT semifinals.

And so he did again, thanks to Woodson. Of course, this whole thing may be preordained. Woodson's hometown is Indianapolis. The last game he played before his injury was in Market Square Arena, site of the NCAA finals. And his birthday is March 24, the date of the NCAA championship game. Welcome home again, Mr. Mike.

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