The Hoosiers' tournament history began in 1940, when head coach Branch McCracken in his second year with the team, led them to the title in just the second iteration of the tournament. Indiana defeated Springfield, Duquesne, and fellow blue blood Kansas, by a blowout score of 60-42, on the way to the title.
A twelve year postseason drought ensued before the Hoosiers qualified for the 1953 tournament. Indiana would repeat its feat fro 1940, defeating DePaul, Notre Dame, LSU, and once again Kansas to secure a second National Championship. This time, it was a nail-biting affair, 69-68, as McCracken secured his legacy as an Indiana coach.
The next handful of appearances were fruitless, as the McCracken era led to the Lou Watson. Watson managed just one tournament appearance in his tenure and in 1971 was replaced by no one of remarkable note.
Some nobody named Robert Montgomery Knight took over the head coaching duties of the Hoosiers in '71, and miraculously, Indiana experienced its most prosperous years over the next two decades.
In 1976, Indiana not only qualified for the tournament in consecutive years for the first time, but finished off a perfect season. A feat that has yet to be replicated in Division I Men's Basketball. The 1976 tournament was the second year of the expanded 32-team field and second year more than one team from each conference was allowed in the Big Dance, hence the Hoosiers taking down their conference rival, the Michigan Wolverines, in the championship game.
The 1980's was the best decade for the Hoosiers in terms of tournament performance. During the decade, IU missed just one tournament (1985), and secured two more National Championships. IN 1981, the Hoosiers cruised through the tournament, with the closest margin of victory being a 13-point win in the title game over North Carolina.
1987 lives in infamy, as each March that has rolled around since has featured Keith Smart's "The Shot" that lifted the Hoosiers over Syracuse in the title game. The '87 team also holds significance in the generation of Hoosier fans older than myself, due to that season being Indiana's darling son Steve Alford's senior year. Alford took advantage of that season being the first that the 3-point line was used in the tournament, as the Hoosiers scraped by in every game from the Sweet Sixteen, on.
Starting in 1986, the Hoosiers made the tournament every single year through 2003. But the 1990's produced more disappointments than anything for a fan base that came to expect titles. IU did make two Final Fours in this period, 1992 and 2002.
Since the National Title loss to Maryland in 2002, the Hoosiers have made seven appearances, with the Sweet Sixteen being the furthest destination in both 2012 and 2013.
Fans are hoping the Hoosiers can recreate the magic of the 2002 run, which IU made as a five-seed. Taking down historic programs on the way to titles has been Indiana's mantra, so having to likely go through two blue bloods in the first three rounds may not be the worst thing.