Assembling IU Basketball’s All-Time March Madness Team

Posted on March 7, 2023

With March Madness just around the corner, some questions just need answers.

One of those questions for fans of the Indiana University Hoosiers is simple: What is the greatest possible March Madness team you could put together from IU’s historic group of former players?

Some of the options are more obvious than others. These players donned the cream and crimson before Indiana sports betting was legal.

Point guard: Isiah Thomas

With March Madness betting about to begin, Hoosiers have their minds focused on college basketball.

When it comes to picking a point guard for IU’s theoretical dream team, there’s only one answer here.

Isiah Thomas is the best point guard in the school’s history. Thomas was just simply that good.

Thomas played in 63 games over two seasons for IU. During his collegiate playing days, Thomas averaged 15.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game while also grabbing 2.2 steals.

Ultimately, Thomas won the 1981 national championship playing under legendary coach Bob Knight.

Thomas went on to have a hall-of-fame career playing for the Detroit Pistons in the NBA.

There is simply no one else to place at point guard for an all-time March Madness squad made up of only IU players.

An honorable mention would be Quinn Buckner, who was a part of the 1975-76 undefeated season.

Shooting guard: Steve Alford

Betting on IU basketball is a popular option these days, and the team has had plenty of skilled guards over the years.

Focusing solely on collegiate accomplishments, the answer for IU’s dream team at shooting guard is Steve Alford.

Alford is second on IU’s all-time scoring list and one of the most celebrated high school basketball players to come out of Indiana, where he was named Mr. Basketball.

Alford won an NCAA men’s basketball national championship in “The Game That Almost Never Was” with Knight at the helm.

Alford was also All-Big Ten in three of his four years at IU and was an All-American in two of his four years. He was also in the top 20 in the country for points scored in three of his four seasons.

Small forward: Calbert Cheaney

Indiana University’s scoring king has to be on this list, and that place is at small forward.

Calbert Cheaney, the four-year player for the Hoosiers, played in 132 games for the team from 1989 through 1993.

During that time he scored a franchise-leading 2,613 points, which is a record that stands to this day. Over those four years, Cheaney acquired a litany of awards:

  • All-Big Ten three times (1990-91, 1991-92, 1992-93)
  • 1992-93 AP Player of the Year
  • 1992-93 Naismith Player of the Year
  • 1992-93 Sporting News Player of the Year
  • 1992-93 Big Ten Player of the Year
  • 1992-93 John R. Wooden Award winner
  • 1992-93 All American

In 1992-93, Cheaney led the Big Ten in points (785), helping him also earn the title of scoring king of the Big Ten as well.

That makes Cheaney the clear small forward on the all-time IU March Madness squad.

Power forward: George McGinnis

Despite the small amount of time George McGinnis played for IU – one season – he has to be the best power forward in Hoosier history.

He averaged 30 points and 14.7 rebounds per game during the 1970-71 season, leading the Big Ten in both categories. After sitting out as a freshman, McGinnis posted numbers not touched by anyone else in IU’s history. That has to count for something.

McGinnis wasn’t at IU for long, but he was undeniably dominant during that time. That earns him a spot on the school’s dream team.

Center: Walt Bellamy

We have to go back to 1958 to give flowers to the greatest center to play basketball at IU. That center is the late Walt Bellamy, who died in 2013 at age 74.

Bellamy, who originally chose IU because it was the closest college to his hometown that would accept Black people, was not eligible to play as a freshman. He proceeded to destroy the Big Ten in his next three seasons as a member of the Hoosiers.

In 70 games for IU, Bellamy averaged 20.6 points and 15.5 rebounds while shooting 51.7% from the field.

Bellamy’s 17.8 rebounds per game in his senior season is a school record that still stands today. He became the first overall pick in the NBA draft, the start of his 13-year career where he averaged 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds per game.

He deserves the title of best center to ever play for the Hoosiers.

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T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver who covers the Nuggets as a beat writer. He regularly contributes to PlayIndiana on issues surrounding the online gambling market. His byline can be seen at ESPN, FiveThirtyEight, Bleacher Report and others.

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