This is the sixth in our series of posts that “preview” notable NCAA Tournament games in Indiana’s storied history. These are companion posts for our live rewatch series that we are doing in place of the cancelled 2020 NCAA Tournament.
Today, we will preview the championship game of the 1976 NCAA Tournament — Indiana, the #1 seed in the Midwest Region, against Michigan, the #1 seed in the West Region.
The live rewatch and postgame show for the IU-Michigan game takes place on Monday, April 6th at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Click hereto access the YouTube replay of the game.
Breaking down the matchup:
Indiana (31-0) vs. Michigan (25-6)
- Indiana: Bob Knight (5 season with school)
- Michigan: Johnny Orr (8th season with school)
This will be the third matchup of the season between the conference foes and the first time in NCAA history that two teams from the same conference meet in the NCAA title game.
In their last meeting, Indiana defeated Michigan 72-67 in OT. A Kent Benson tip in at the buzzer in regulation sent the game to overtime and ultimately victory to preserve Indiana’s perfect season.
Indiana probable starters:
- G. Quinn Buckner (Sr.)
- G. Bobby Wilkerson (Sr.)
- F. Scott May (Sr.)
- F. Tom Abernethy (Sr.)
- C. Kent Benson (Jr. )
Michigan probable starters:
- G. Rickey Green (Jr.)
- G. Steve Grote (Jr.)
- G. Wayman Britt (Sr.)
- F. John Robinson Jr.)
- F. Phil Hubbard (Fr.)
Indiana game notes:
The Hoosiers finished the Big Ten at an undefeated 18-0 for the second consecutive season. This time, IU is looking to finish the goal of an undefeated season and become only the seventh team in NCAA history to do so (the last being UCLA in 1973). Indiana defeated St. John’s (90-70), Alabama (74-69), Marquette (65-56), and UCLA (65-51) to reach their third NCAA title game in the school’s history.
Michigan game notes:
The Wolverines finished second in Big Ten play at 14-4, and their 25 wins this season so far are the most during the Johnny Orr era in Ann Arbor. Michigan defeated Wichita State (74-73), Notre Dame (80-76), Missouri (95-88), and Rutgers (86-70) to reach their second NCAA title game in school history.
What to expect — Indiana:
Indiana is led by National Player of the Year candidate Scott May, who is the most potent scoring option for the veteran Indiana squad. The Hoosiers like to set up their half-court motion offense to score effectively, led by senior captain Quinn Buckner, but will also open it up in transition for fast break points. Michigan also cannot sleep in center Kent Benson, who led Indiana with 16 points in the semi-final victory over UCLA.
Defensively, Indiana will need to lean on Bobby Wilkerson to handle Michigan scoring threat, Rickey Green.
What to expect — Michigan
Michigan will come out with an uptempo style as much as possible during the contest led by speedy guard and junior college transfer Rickey Green, who leads the team in scoring at 19.9 ppg. Phil Hubbard, the agile freshman sensation, could give Indiana fits inside is he’s allow to get the ball early.
If Michigan can get their full-court press to be effective early, it could cause problems for Indiana’s game plan overall.
If you want to know the result of the game and see the box score, click here.