Kansas University’s early Big 12 tournament exit last week ruled out the possibility of the Jayhawks sweeping the regular and postseason conference men’s basketball titles.
The sudden departure from Oklahoma City did, however, provide the Jayhawks with plenty of rest before their first-round tilt in the NCAA Tournament with North Dakota State. Heading into Friday’s first-round matchup, the Big 12 regular-season champion Jayhawks will be eight days removed from the last time they took the court.
Will the added rest make a difference?
“I certainly hope so. I guess we’ll find out this week,” KU coach Bill Self said on the weekly Big 12 teleconference. “But I wasn’t happy leaving Oklahoma City. Not because we got beat, but because of why I think we didn’t perform well. I think what we did to keep us from performing well is definitely controllable. We talked about that a lot and hopefully got our guys minds’ back (to being) sharp.”
Historically, extra rest as a result of being knocked out of the Big 12 tournament hasn’t translated to much NCAA Tournament success.
Since the Big 12’s first year in 1997, six teams that entered as a No. 1 or 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament have been upset in their first game. This provided extra time to rest and prepare for the NCAA Tournament.
Of those six teams, two of them ended up being knocked out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament the following week. They were:
• Iowa State in 2001: The Cyclones were the top seed in the Big 12 tournament and lost to Baylor in the second round. The next week, Iowa State, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, was upset by No. 15 Hampton, 58-57, in the opening round.
• Missouri in 1999: The Tigers were the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament and lost to Kansas State in the second round. Mizzou, a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament the following week, lost to No. 9 New Mexico, 61-59, in the first round.
Another one of those teams (Oklahoma State in 1998) was knocked out in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
In fact, only one of the six rested teams made it past the Sweet 16. In 2003, Texas reached the Final Four after being ousted early in the Big 12 tournament.
What about teams with less rest?
In the scope of Big 12 history, deep NCAA Tournament runs seem to come from teams that advance far in the Big 12 tournament the week before.
Big 12 tournament champions have fewer days to rest before the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but momentum from winning a conference tournament can go a long way.
Of the previous 12 conference tournament winners before Missouri in 2009, half of them have advanced to the Elite Eight or better in the NCAA Tournament.
In 2008, Kansas won the national championship after winning the Big 12 tournament.
Oklahoma State (2004) and Oklahoma (2002) won the Big 12 tournament and advanced to the Final Four.
Kansas (2007), Oklahoma (2003), and Iowa State (2000) won the conference tournament and reached the Elite Eight.
Missouri coach Mike Anderson is hoping the momentum from winning this season’s Big 12 tournament will carry into the NCAA’s. Anderson has a taste of a national championship from being an assistant coach on the Arkansas team that won in 1994.
“If people say, hey, we look like the Arkansas teams of the ’90s, I take that as the ultimate compliment,” Anderson said. “You say why; well, they were a fun team to watch, they were exciting and they played up-tempo basketball. Not only that, but they won. It’s entertaining basketball. Our kids are enjoying it and they’re having fun. We ended up winning a national championship in year five (at Arkansas). And we’re in the hunt for one this year hopefully.”