ON THIS DAY: IN 2016, Indiana Fell to No. 1 North Carolina, and Hasn't Danced Since
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — North Carolina was a No. 1 seed for a reason back in 2016, and when the Tar Heels took on fifth-seeded Indiana in the regional semifinals on March 25 that year, you knew things would be tough.
You just didn't expect impossibly tough.
The Tar Heels, led by Marcus Paige's six three-pointers, scored practically at will on Tom Crean's Hoosiers, running up and down the court at rolling to a 101-86 victory. Crean, who was trying to celebrate his 50th birthday, had no answers for the Tar Heels.
Neither did his players.
“If they play like that, even remotely close to that, then they’re going to be very, very hard to beat,” Crean said of the Tar Heels, who made it all the way to the NCAA title game that year, losing on a last-second shot to Villanova.
It was the second-straight blue blood showdown for the Hoosiers, who had beaten Kentucky in the second round. They were short-handed against UNC, though, forced to play without Robert Johnson, who was out with an ankle injury. Indiana had won the two previous tournament meetings in 1984 (Dakich vs. Jordon) and 1981 (Isiah's national title).
Crean needed a good run in the tournament after missing the NCAAs entirely in 2014 and then then losing in the first round in 2015. Winning twice the first weekend helped, but the naysayers were out right after this game, where the howls about Indiana being a horrible defensive team were heard loud and clear.
Getting burned by Paige really hurt. He scored 12 of North Carolina’s first 14 points in the opening minutes by going 4-for-4 from three-point range. The Tar Heels shot 62.1 percent from the field in the first half, taking a 52-41 lead into the break.
Indiana was trying to reach its first regional final since 2002, but simply couldn't ever make a serious run at the Tar Heels.
Senior point guard Yogi Ferrell, playing his final game for the Hoosiers, was terrific, scoring 25 points on 4-of-9 shooting from three-point range and making 9-of-10 free throws. Troy Williams had 21 and Max Bielfeldt had 15 off the bench.
Ferrell had a brilliant four-year career at Indiana, being a big part of two Big Ten championship teams (2013, 2016) and leaving Bloomington as the school's all-time assists leader.
"I gave my all to IU,'' Ferrell said afterward.
The following year, Indiana failed to make the NCAA tournament and Crean was fired after nine years. The Hoosiers still haven't played in the Big Dance since then, though they probably would have this year during Archie Miller's third season at Indiana.
VIDEO: Tom Crean on the 2016 Indiana team
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