Hoosier Hysteria is the state of excitement surrounding basketball in Indiana, or more specifically the Indiana high school basketball tournament. In part, the excitement stemmed from the inclusion of all tournament entrants into the same tournament, where a small town's David might knock off a large city's Goliath. The most famous example occurred in 1954, when Milan (enrollment 161) defeated Muncie Central (enrollment over 1,600) to win the State title. The plot of the now famous movie, Hoosiers, was based on the story of the 1954 Milan team and seems to typify the hysteria related to basketball in the state of Indiana.
Indiana's passion for basketball was observed and written about by basketball's inventor, James Naismith. In 1925, Naismith visited an Indiana basketball state finals game along with 15,000 screaming fans and later wrote, that while it was invented in Massachusetts, "basketball really had its origin in Indiana, which remains the center of the sport." Hoosiers have a traditional love for basketball similar to that of Southerners or Ohioans for football, Pennsylvanians for wrestling, and Minnesotans for ice hockey.
Indiana high schools boast a tradition of producing top caliber basketball players. Through the 2009-2010 NBA season, 152 Hoosier athletes have played professional basketball in the world's top league. Considering the size of the state (population 6.4 million), this makes Indiana high schools by far the most successful at developing NBA players per capita. Today there are 22 Hoosiers in the NBA - more than one for every 150,000 male residents. The state's unparalleled ability to produce NBA talent, both statewide and specifically in smaller towns, is featured in this Deadspin article. In 2017, Indiana natives won the NBA and D-league Dunk Contests, NBA and D-league 3-pont contests, and won runner-up in the NBA Skills Challenge.
Historically, each of the several hundred small towns of Indiana had its own small school system. Before consolidation of many of these rural school districts in the last half of the twentieth century, Indiana high schools had fewer students than those of most other states; basketball was a natural game for these schools since it only required five starters and a few reserves. Even one or two great basketball players could make a high school team a powerhouse, and nearly every Indiana town dreamt of such glory.
The Franklin Wonder Five was the first team to win the state championship in three consecutive years, from 1920-1922. This accomplishment would not be matched for over six decades. The team was led by Fuzzy Vandivier.
After Milan's Miracle in the 1950s, no school with an enrollment of less than 500 won another boys' State title under the all-comers format. As school consolidation became more common and as more rural residents migrated to cities making large high schools grow even larger, smaller high schools had only a mismatch to look forward to come tournament time, as success concentrated in Indiana's large urban and suburban schools. Starting with the 1997-1998 season, Indiana established a controversial four-class system for its basketball championship, although many other sports remain single-class. The state's move to this new system has, to some extent, diminished the phenomenon and public opinion is widely split on the merits of "class basketball."
Aside from the "Milan Miracle," the story of Crispus Attucks High School ranks as one of the greatest in Indiana high school basketball tradition. In 1955, the year after Attucks had lost in the semistate final (state quarterfinals) to Milan's championship team, Attucks gained fame by winning the Indiana state championship, becoming the first all-black school in the nation to win a state title open to all schools regardless of race. Crispus Attucks repeated as champions in 1956, becoming the first Indiana high school team to complete a season undefeated. The Attucks teams of 1954 through 1956 were led by Oscar Robertson. Both stories, Milan and Crispus Attucks, are memorialized for their accomplishments and tradition at the Indiana State Museum as well as at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle, Indiana.
A highlight of the single-class tournament was the 1990 State Championship game, in which the paid attendance was over 40,000 fans. This phenomenal turnout of fans who witnessed Damon Bailey's Bedford-North Lawrence Stars win the State Championship stands as the largest crowd ever to witness a high school basketball game.
After the 1997 season (when Bloomington North won the final single-class State Championship), the IHSAA controversially did away with the single-class system, ending the run of single-class champions in Indiana. There are many in Indiana who lament this loss, and who know that Hoosier Hysteria has been dramatically and significantly lessened thereby. Hoosier Hysteria has not completely diminished however. For example, in 2003, DeKalb High School (1200 students) nearly defeated Pike High School (3000) students). Also, the Indiana tournament is still the most attended in the nation, with final four games for the two larger divisions regularly selling out Bankers Life Fieldhouse (formerly Conseco Fieldhouse).
Perhaps one of the more telling signs of the passion and commitment to basketball at the high school level is the number and size of large basketball gymnasiums in the state. With considerable cost and effort, Indiana boasts nine of the ten largest high school gyms in the country, and a purported eighteen of the top twenty. Seventeen venues in Indiana today boast a capacity of over 6,000, the largest being the New Castle Fieldhouse, seating 9,325.
Hoosier Hysteria may have its roots firmly planted in the high school game, but the college tradition brings its own depth to Indiana's passion. In NCAA Division I basketball, Indiana's colleges and universities have a storied past. Big Ten rivals Purdue University and Indiana University are the most notable, with national and conference championships to boast. Smaller schools such as the University of Notre Dame, Indiana State University, Ball State University, Butler University, the University of Evansville, IUPUI, IPFW, and Valparaiso University add to the mix. Vincennes University boasts an outstanding national tradition in the junior college ranks. And in Division II St. Joseph's, University of Indianapolis and University of Southern Indiana have added their own successes to the legend of Indiana basketball. Wabash College won the Men's Division III NCAA Championship in 1982 and their 1905 24-0 team was considered World Champions; DePauw University and Manchester College were Div III National Finalists. It is safe to say that the terms "Final Four" and "March Madness" have grown out of the tradition of Hoosier Hysteria.
The Ball State Cardinals have won several conference championships and earned a number of NCAA Tournament berths over the years, including:
Indiana's collegiate basketball squad, the Indiana Hoosiers men's basketball team has several championships to their credit:
The Hoosiers' five NCAA Championships are the fourth in history, tied with Duke, and trailing UCLA (11) Kentucky (8) and North Carolina (6). Their eight trips to the Final Four ranks seventh on the all-time list. The Hoosiers have made 32 appearances in the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament (fifth-most in NCAA history). In those 32 appearances, Indiana has posted 52 victories, the sixth-most in NCAA history.
With their only men's national championship coming in the days before the NCAA Tournament, the Purdue Boilermakers have a basketball history:
The Boilermaker women have one National Championship (1999), one national runner-up finish (2001 to Notre Dame), seven Big Ten Championships, and have won six of the thirteen women's Big Ten Tournaments.
They are members of the Great Lakes Valley Conference, the top Division II conference in the nation.
The University of Indianapolis Greyhounds have a storied basketball history. The Greyhounds were led by UIndy Hall of Famer Angus Nicoson throughout the 1950s and 60s, and Nicoson's teams won 8 Hoosier Conference Championships. More recent success has seen the Hounds ranked #1 in the country in Division II basketball in 2014, led by former USI standout, Stan Gouard.
The Vincennes University men's basketball program is the 4th winningest junior college program in the country, with 1,470 victories. The Trailblazers trail Southeastern Iowa Community College (1,519), Moberly, Mo., (1,505) and Hutchinson, Kan., with 1,490. The Trailblazers' 3 National Titles place them 3rd in titles behind Moberly Area Community College and San Jacinto College - Central, which each have four titles. The Vincennes program began in 1903, however, no teams were formed from 1910-1912 and 1931-1950.
Bethel College (Mishawaka) http://www.like2do.com/learn?s=Bethel_College_(Indiana)#Athletic_Accomplishments 3 NAIA National Championships (Men's DII Basketball) 29 NCCAA National Championships 3 NAIA Individual National Champions (1 Women's Golf, 2 Men's Track) 211 NCCAA Individual National Champions (Tennis and Track & Field) 229 NAIA All-Americans 435 NAIA Scholar-Athletes 15 NAIA National Players of the Week 33 National Coach of the Year awards (NAIA & NCCAA Combined) 60 Conference Regular Season Championship (List is current through the 2015-16 school year).
The Indiana Pacers are a professional basketball team that plays in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team is based in the state's capital and largest city, Indianapolis, located in the center of the state. The Indiana Fever of the WNBA, also owned by Melvin & Herb Simon, are the Pacers' sister team and also play in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Indiana Fever is a professional women's basketball team that plays in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). The Fever are based in Indiana's capital and largest city, Indianapolis. The Fever play at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, located in downtown Indianapolis. The team is the sister team of the NBA's Indiana Pacers.
At the conclusion of the regular Big Ten season, a tournament is held to determine the conference winner, who receives the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Indianapolis has hosted all but one of the women's tournaments since its inception in 1995, and Bankers Life Fieldhouse has hosted every tournament since 2002, as well as the 2000 edition. The Big Ten Conference Men's Basketball Tournament began a five-year stint at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in 2008.
Indianapolis, headquarters of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and often referred to as the "Amateur Sports Capital of the World" has hosted a number of collegiate basketball events. Aside from the multitude of regional games held during the NCAA tournament, Indianapolis is tied with New York City for having hosted the second most NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championships (1980, 1991, 1997, 2000, 2006, 2010, and 2015). The city will host the men's Final Four next in 2021. Previous events were held in the Market Square Arena or the RCA Dome, but given the new stadium built for the Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium began hosting Final Four events in 2010. When the NCAA Headquarters relocated to Indianapolis, it was stated that Indianapolis would then host the men's Final Four once every five years. The leading factor in the NCAA's decision to move to Indianapolis was the overwhelming amount of local athletic infrastructure, all of it world-class.
In 2002, Indianapolis hosted the FIBA World Championship (now known as the FIBA Basketball World Cup), an event that takes place on even years opposite the Olympic Games. Since inaugural event in 1950, Indianapolis is the only city in the United States to have hosted the event.
Here follows a list of notable Indiana natives, as well as non-natives who were raised in the state, who have achieved success in basketball.
Non-natives (i.e., those who did not arrive in Indiana before college) who gained basketball fame in Indiana's tradition include: