KU: Seed ‘nothing’

Jayhawks downplay top billing

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kansas in the NCAA Tournament

NCAA Tournament W-L

NCAA Tournament Total: 85-38

• In 1st-Round Games 34-6

• In 2nd-Round Games 18-8

• Sweet Sixteen Games 18-8

• In Final Eight Games 13-6

• In Final Four Games 11-12

• In District Playoff Games 2-2

• Includes Sweet 16 games through 1974

• Since 1981

• Includes consolation games

• Does not count in tournament totals

NCAA Tournament Titles (3)

1952, 1988, 2008

Sweet 16 Appearances (26)

1940, 1942, 1952, 1953, 1957, 1960, 1966, 1971, 1974, 1981, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009

Final Four Appearances (13)

1940 (Western), 1952 (Midwest), 1953 (Midwest), 1957 (Midwest), 1971 (Midwest), 1974 (Midwest), 1986 (Midwest), 1988 (Midwest), 1991 (Southeast), 1993 (Midwest), 2002 (Midwest), 2003 (West), 2008 (Midwest)

No. 1 seeds garner a lot of attention on NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday.

CBS and ESPN-TV announcers not only fawn over the four top seeds, but most of the so-called experts not-so-courageously wind up picking three or more of the four to reach the coveted Final Four.

Aside from short-lived bragging rights, what does a No. 1 seed mean to a college basketball player with dreams of cutting down the nets April 4 in Houston?

“Nothing. It means nothing,” Kansas University sophomore Thomas Robinson said. “There are so many good teams in the tournament. There are no bad teams, no easy games. No. 1 is the same as everybody else. Everybody is equal.”

“I don’t think it matters,” noted senior Tyrel Reed. “I think when we’re a No. 1 seed you deal with it, just like when you’re not a No. 1. It’s the NCAA Tournament and all teams in it are capable.”

Throughout history, No. 1 seeds have had a huge advantage in at least one round — the first round.

No top seed ever has lost to a 16.

Plenty of No. 1 seeds have lost in Round Two, the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, however, most recently last season when the Jayhawks bowed to Northern Iowa in a second-round contest in Oklahoma City. On a more positive note, the Jayhawks were seeded No. 1 back in 2008, when they stormed to six victories and a national title.

“I think if you look at it closely, the percentages are No. 1 seeds advance, but I think the biggest reason they advance is the talent level usually is superior,” KU coach Bill Self said. “I really don’t know,” he added, asked if being a No. 1 seed makes much a difference in this age of basketball parity.

What is fact is KU has been a No. 1 seed three of the past four seasons and nine times in tourney history.

Here’s a look at how the Jayhawks fared each of the nine times:

1986: Larry Brown’s Jayhawks rode the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Regional all the way to the Final Four. KU beat North Carolina A&T, 71-46, and Temple, 65-43, in Dayton, Ohio; Michigan State, 96-86 in overtime; and North Carolina State, 75-67, in Kansas City, Mo., before falling to Duke, 71-67, in a Final Four semifinal in Dallas.

The Jayhawks (35-4) were led by sophomore Danny Manning (16.7 ppg), as well as long-range bombers Ron Kellogg (15.9) and Calvin Thompson (13.4).

1992: Roy Williams’ Jayhawks (27-5) suffered a major downer in Dayton, losing to No. 9-seeded Texas El-Paso, 66-60, in the second round. The Jayhawks had blown out Howard, 100-67, in the first round of the Midwest Regional.

Junior guards Rex Walters and Adonis Jordan were the team’s leading scorers at 16.0 and 12.8 ppg respectively. Sophomore Richard Scott and senior Alonzo Jamison each contributed 10.0 ppg.

1995: Williams’ Jayhawks (25-6) advanced to the Sweet 16 and a meeting with Virginia in Kemper Arena, KU’s home away from home. Oops. No. 4-seed Virginia ousted KU, 67-58. KU had beaten Colgate, 82-68, and No. 8-seed Western Kentucky, 75-70, in first- and second-round Midwest Regional games in Dayton.

Sophomore Jerod Haase averaged 15.0 ppg, while freshman Raef LaFrentz and soph Scot Pollard checked in at 10.2 ppg. Sophomore Jacque Vaughn, junior Sean Pearson and senior Greg Ostertag averaged 9.7, 9.6 and 9.6 ppg.

1997: Williams’ Jayhawks (34-2) again only made it as far as the Sweet 16 as a top seed. No. 4-seed Arizona stunned the Jayhawks, 85-82, in the Southeast Regional in Birmingham, Ala. KU had opened with wins over Jackson State, 78-64, and No. 8 Purdue, 75-61, in Memphis. Lute Olson’s Wildcats went on to win the NCAA title.

That KU team is regarded as one of the best in school history. The Jayhawks’ only regular-season loss had been a 96-94 double-overtime thriller at Missouri. LaFrentz, a junior, averaged 18.5 ppg. Soph Paul Pierce averaged 16.3 ppg, senior Haase 12.0, senior Pollard 10.3 and senior Vaughn 10.2.

1998: Williams’ Jayhawks (35-4) were stunned by No. 8-seed Rhode Island, 80-75, in a second-round Midwest Regional game in Oklahoma City. KU annihilated Prairie View A&M, 110-52, in Round One. Junior Paul Pierce, who turned pro after the season, averaged 20.4 ppg. LaFrentz averaged 19.8 his senior season, while senior Billy Thomas hit for 13.6 ppg and junior Ryan Robertson 8.3 ppg.

2002: Williams’ Jayhawks (33-4) marched to the Final Four as No. 1 seed in the Midwest Regional. KU beat Holy Cross, 70-59, and No. 8-seed Stanford, 86-63, in St. Louis as well as No. 4 seed Illinois, 73-69, and No. 2 Oregon, 104-86, in Madison, Wis. KU led No. 1 seed Maryland big early, before falling, 97-88, in the Final Four semis in Atlanta.

Junior Drew Gooden averaged 19.8 ppg, while juniors Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich hit for 15.6 and 14.8 ppg respectively and senior Jeff Boschee 13.4 ppg. Freshman Wayne Simien contributed 8.1 ppg. That KU team went undefeated in the Big 12.

2007: Bill Self’s team (33-5) reached the Elite Eight as No. 1 seed in the West Regional. The Jayhawks, who some say were unfairly shipped to UCLA’s backyard, fell to the No. 2-seeded Bruins, 68-55. Earlier in the regional, KU beat Niagara, 107-67, and No. 8 Kentucky, 88-76, in Chicago and No. 4 Southern Illinois, 61-58, in San Jose.

Soph Brandon Rush averaged 13.8 ppg, soph Mario Chalmers 12.2 and soph Julian Wright 12.0. Freshmen Darrell Arthur and Sherron Collins chipped in 9.8 and 9.3 per game.

2008: KU (37-3) won the national title as a No. 1 seed in the Midwest Regional. KU beat Portland State, 85-61, and No. 8 UNLV, 75-61, in Omaha, Neb., and No. 12 Villanova, 72-57, and No. 10-Davidson, 59-57, in Detroit. The Jayhawks ousted No. 1 North Carolina, 84-66, before tripping No. 1 Memphis, 75-68, in OT in San Antonio.

Rush again was leading scorer as a junior, good for 13.3 ppg. Chalmers, a junior, hit for 12.8, as did soph Arthur. Senior Darnell Jackson averaged 11.2.

2010: KU (33-3) went out as a No. 1 seed. The Jayhawks fell to No. 9 Northern Iowa, 69-67, in Oklahoma City. KU opened the Midwest Regional with a closer-than-expected 90-74 win over Lehigh.

Collins averaged 15.5 ppg his senior year. Xavier Henry averaged 13.4 ppg and turned pro after his rookie season. Sophomore Marcus Morris averaged 12.8 and junior Cole Aldrich 11.3.