We are down to the eight greatest Hoosiers! The matchups get tougher as every player remaining has a case for being the greatest to ever play for Indiana University. This week you will be deciding the outcome of the Everett Dean and Branch McCracken Regional Finals with the winners claiming their region and advancing to the Final Four of the IU Greatest Player Bracket. Before we get to this week’s heavyweight matchups, let’s look at who else is still alive in the bracket.
After an outstanding 1,875 votes were cast, the bottom half of the Sweet 16 was decided and the winners will go against each other next week to claim the other two spots in the Final Four. In the Bob Knight Semifinals Calbert Cheaney again obliterated his opponent taking 97% of the vote over Alan Henderson. Cheaney will face Kent Benson in the Bob Knight Finals after Benson captured 57% of the vote against Archie Dees. In the Tom Crean Semifinals Isiah Thomas easily beat Ray Tolbert by gathering 90% of the vote. Thomas will face Walt Bellamy in the Tom Crean Finals after Bellamy upset Don Schlundt by winning 70% of the vote in a battle of big men.
The Everett Dean Regional Finals pits the two senior leaders of the undefeated 1976 national champions against each other as Scott May faces Quinn Buckner. May has rolled to this point, easily defeating the Van Arsdale twins in the first round and dominating Damon Bailey in the Sweet 16. Buckner has had a harder path as after he comfortably beat Bill Garrett in the first round he had to rally to beat Mike Woodson in the Sweet 16. In the Branch McCracken Finals, we have the four-year star Steve Alford against the one-year wonder George McGinnis. Both have dominated their previous matchups as Alford beat Landon Turner in the first round and Steve Downing in the Sweet 16 while McGinnis defeated Eric Gordon in the first round and Jimmy Rayl in the Sweet 16.
As always these matchups will be decided by you the reader. Please continue to share it with your fellow Hoosiers as we need Hoosier Nation to help crown the greatest IU basketball player of all-time. Thank you all for voting and go Hoosiers!
Everett Dean Regional Finals:
1) Scott May vs 2) Quinn Buckner
1) Scott May: The best player on the last undefeated men’s college basketball team. That alone validates him as one of the best Hoosiers ever, but it goes deeper. May was part of a two-year run that will likely never be replicated in college basketball ever again. The Hoosiers went 63-1 and 36-0 in Big Ten conference play in May’s junior and senior years. The one loss that prevented back-to-back undefeated championships happened in the Midwest Regional Final against Kentucky by a score of 92-90. May, who broke his left arm against Purdue in the season finale, played with a cast but only managed two points in seven minutes of play. May came back the next season with vengeance, increasing his scoring from 16.3 points a game in 1975 to 23.5 points a game in 1976. His play that season earned him Big Ten Player of the Year and National Player of the Year honors as well as his second consecutive year as a consensus first-team All-American. (17.7ppg, 6.6rpg, 1.8apg)
2) Quinn Buckner: Maybe not one of the best offensive guards to ever don the candy stripe pants, Buckner more than made up for it with stifling defense, a high basketball IQ, and unquestionable leadership skills. The three-time Hoosier captain started all four years and what a four years he spent in Bloomington. He was a part of four Big Ten Champions, two undefeated Big Ten conference records and he finished his career at IU by leading the last undefeated team in college basketball history. Buckner’s stats weren’t otherworldly but his worth was properly recognized in the form of two All-American selections in 1975 and 1976. (10.0ppg, 3.8rpg, 4.5apg)
Branch McCracken Regional Finals:
1) Steve Alford vs. 2) George McGinnis
1) Steve Alford: Alford was as true a Hoosier as anyone from the state of Indiana. Born and raised on the sport of basketball while being coached by his father, Alford had one of the highest basketball IQs ever and was one of the best shooters the sport had ever seen. All the evidence you need is that when the three-point shot was introduced during his senior year, Alford proceeded to shoot 53 percent from deep including seven treys in the 1987 National Championship game, which Indiana ended up winning for its fifth National Championship. Alford was a four-year starter who averaged more than 15 points all four years and graduated as IU’s all-time leading scorer with 2,438 points, only surpassed by Calbert Cheaney. Alford was also a two-time All-American selection and won Big Ten Player of the Year in 1987.(19.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.1apg)
2) George McGinnis: Due to rules against not letting freshmen play on the varsity team, McGinnis wasn’t a true “one-and-done” by today’s terms but his lone season as a Hoosier remains one of the best single-season careers in all of college basketball history. McGinnis became one of five players to ever lead the whole Big Ten in both scoring and rebounding and was the first sophomore to do it. His scoring average of 29.9 points a game is the highest of any IU player and his 12 games of 30 or more points is a single-season Indiana record. He also averaged 14.7 rebounds a game and earned a spot on the All-Big Ten team and the All-American team. (29.9ppg, 14.7rpg, 2.8apg)