Which NCAA Tournament loss in the last 20 years stung the most?

1997 Arizona 23% 1698 votes

1998 Rhode Island 4% 323 votes

2005 Bucknell 14% 1041 votes

2006 Bradley 2% 184 votes

2010 Northern Iowa 54% 3978 votes

Other 1% 124 votes

7348 total votes


Bill Skeet 11 years ago

I voted for Arizona because i'm still numb.

kcoff1107 11 years ago

Bucknell by far. I mean UNI was ranked most of the year. And KU did not deserve to win today. Bucknell made a lucky shot, and our best player (Simien) had a chance to win it with a wide open shot but missed. That was the big stunner....

ku_foaf 11 years ago

Hopes were so high this year and in '97...I was at '97 game. At least we lost to the champion then.

2005 was a shock, but we'd fallen apart in Feb.

Code_2008 11 years ago

I'm going with Bradley...

Bucknell was huge... but having a 2nd stunner in the NCAA in a row made it even worse.

rockchalktl 11 years ago

Bucknell was a huge suprise but n Iowa kills because we were the favorite to win it all and we went out this early and if that doesn't get to you nothin does. I am a proud beloved jayhawk fan but today I am sadden by the poor effort until the end and the exit this early. This will haunt ku fans for a while but we will have a great team next year and a good shot to go deep in the tourny. I will root on ku through the good the bad and the ugly so ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK GO KU!!!!!!!!!

jhawk4life513 11 years ago

Other. 2003 Syracuse is still the worst loss I have ever endured.

Jacobpaul81 11 years ago

This team was no where near as solid as the 1997 team. I imagine most the people who are voting for this team weren't old enough to see that team play. Apart from the 1986 loss (that was the best Kansas team of all time), the 97 team's loss was the biggest shock. This team, there was always that feeling that they could blow the close one. Too often they let teams hang around. After the battle in the 1st round, I was pretty prepared for an early exit. I was in no way prepared in 1997.

kansas22 11 years ago

Northern Iowa because we were the overwhelming favorite to win it all. Dicky V. was the only ESPN expert to choose someone else, and he still had us in the title game... Then we lose in the 2nd round??? There's no way I ever saw this coming, especially with such a leader as Sherron at the helm. Arizona and Rhode Island were still pretty close, but ouch... this will hurt for a while.

tophawk1983 11 years ago

I think when you look at it...really hard...even though we were 33-2 headed into today, we just weren't head and shoulders best. Never were. We were a team that depended on a second half run to put people away most of the year. That's a dangerous precedent to set.

dietrich2007 11 years ago

My order of it... 1 or 2 both could be it 2010 Northern Iowa, 1997 Arizona 3 Bucknell because we had a great team but we fell apart late in the season 4 Rhode Island 5 Bradley we did have a good team but a very young team that lacked tournament experience much.

In my opinion this year was a bit of a dissapointment

John Randall 11 years ago

For last night we have no retrospect, so it seems devastating.

The Achilles heel this year was feeling good too soon about too little. Time after time, the team let up when they needed a little more 'pedal to the metal.' All three losses fit that pattern. Thirty-three victories masked this weakness, but it was never conquered.

Just too many too easily satisfied with themselves and willing to let Sherron shoulder the rest of the load -- poor way to treat your leader, to stand and watch when he needs help the most; even if he is too proud to beg you for more effort. I wonder how much difference it would make if he could just scream, "Help me, dammit, help me!"

Cole's season is hard to criticize, but would have been marvelous without the respiratory trouble that left him short of breath, physically and spiritually, all year. We never saw him at 100%.

Tyrel and Marcus came closest, grew the most.
Zavvy-aire was on the verge and will go the farthest, Tyshawn came quite a way but still has sulky periods.
Kieff still doesn't sustain well enough to avoid lapses.
Brady gives a lot, but needs to believe he's not as limited as he often plays.
No one else got a chance to feel they really mattered.

ROCK CHALK! It was nice while it lasted, and now we live with what we learned. Life is full of might-have-been, this was another one.

yates33333 11 years ago

Inane question. Ask it ten years from now.

Steve Gantz 11 years ago

Syracuse in 03., then this and Arizona.

Kent Kossoy 11 years ago

How could you not see this coming? Almost every game we played this year we could have lost. These guys did not play with the desire to WIN all year. The best team ever to accomplish the least. Arizona was good. Haase had a broken wrist and no replacement. This team had 10 starters. And yet nobody was in the last game. Sure there were some horrific calls, but in the end this team choked!

Jeff Schartz 11 years ago

To be ranked #1 almost all year, and so highly seeded. This is shocking, embarrassing, humiliating. It is hard to express just exactly how it feels, but, I can say that it sucks the will to watch basketball right out of me....

Steve Brown 11 years ago

Arizona by a mile, we were better that year than KY this or better that year than UNC last..... being ranked #1 and actually being it are not the same....

if you bet against KU this year and took the points and underdog in every game you would have (don't know exactly) a extremely high win rate. check UNI pentom win margins see a different history. why? we played the scoreboard in many games and milked a lead with poor possessions instead of playing each possesion as if we are down by one point... a season long infliction. can't explain why.

TRUEHEART 11 years ago

1992 loss to UTEP at NCAA tourney in Dayton. Win that game regional final in Kansas City.

Steve Brown 11 years ago

2003 syracuse of course yet that is wiped from my memory it didn't happen.

then Arizona.

note: we won't be preseason #1 next year, got that monkey off our backs.

Steve Brown 11 years ago

as I was about to write about '86 Duke Reunion Arena ... why talk about bad stuff

LJW pls stop us debating about bad losses, post a poll with best victory of this year, so we can argue about good events...

Linda Daxon 11 years ago

Lighthawk got that right--"being ranked #1 and actually being it are not the same...."

We started out #1 and because we weren't losing we stayed there, even though we really weren't imporving much. Cole and Sherron preseason All Americans but rarely played like it during the season. I thought when we blew through the Big 12 tourney we were starting to get it together but the Lehigh game was a huge red flag--we were back to our same old bag a tricks

...And the Arizona loss was the worst at the time, even though Zona went on to win it all. Doubt UNI will do us that favor.

KFoz 11 years ago

1) 1992 UTEP

These next two are a tie

2) 2010 Northern Iowa 2) 1998 Rhode Island

4) 1996 Syracuse

5) 2006 Bradley

b1afide 11 years ago

I am still not over Arizona. Devastation. Seriously. It was good for my sanity though as I was way too invested emotionally in that team and refused to let that happen again. Hate to admit it, while extremely disappointing, this loss didn't surprise me. I watched every single game (paid for it!) from California and always felt something was missing despite the wins.

The others that killed me: Duke in 86 and UVA at Kemper. UGH.

fan4ever 11 years ago

I also voted for Arizona 97, because I'm also still numb. That was a great team, and in terms of maturity and talent, maybe even better than this years team. Stunning loss then, and stunning loss yesterday, but think about all the great wins.

Sh.t happens - damn...

gchawk 11 years ago

What difference does it make, they all hurt. Much like asking which enema was the most uncomfortable.

Mike Kendall 11 years ago

While this loss hurts, the Arizona loss stung the most for me. It took me days--I mean literally days, for me to get over that loss. Arizona went on to win the NC, so, it didn't help the hurt. Arizona loss was the worst.

Dirtwood 11 years ago

Hey are missing the point! I'm pissed off there are SO MANY devastating losses to choose from! I too would add Syracuse 2003. In my opinion 1997 hurts the worst...much better team that year...perhaps Roy would still be here if we had won the Championship that year. Self is a good coach (probably great) but every team who has ever played us has NEVER feared us. We let everyone have a chance to play with us. Not one of Self's teams has ever had the ability to crush the life out of an opponent - Self even said it himself.."You gotta be able to step down after putting your foot on someone's throat" KU has NEVER put their foot down under Self.

Dirtwood 11 years ago

1997 for me!......I remember the exact place and what I was doing in my mind when they lost to Arizona....just as vividly as when Reagan was shot, the Challenger blew up, Columbia crashed and OJ ran!!!!! It is permanently scarred in my mind! Can't remember the others although this is a close second.

jhokfan 11 years ago


Why should they fear us? Bucknell, Bradley, Northern Iowa were all playing with house money. They don't come to the dance with the intention of winning a national title and subsequently they have the luxury of playing with nothing to lose.

Chris Shaw 11 years ago

I agree with Kfoz: How is 1992 UTEP not on this list. Hmmmmmmmm

smileyiv 11 years ago

definitely the 97 team. one loss all year before tourney. all the pros on that team. that was tough. This year hurts right up there. UNI is not a number 9 seed though, they finished 10-1 to teams in top 100 in rpi before last night, now 11-1. The missouri valley didn't get the credit again, granite ku should have beaten them. It just seems there was something missing this year from this team as far as "wanting" it and just "thinking" that it was theirs

ModerateOne 11 years ago

We weren't very good when we lost to Bucknell and Bradley, folks. Those teams would not have done much anyway. No way they are the toughest losses. Any team with Keith "You Can't Spell Team Without Me" Langford was bound for nowhere.

We were very good when we lost to Arizona and Rhode Island though. We were also very good when we lost to UNI but UNI is a very good team and as others have said this year's team was flirting with disaster all along in its inability to play hard every possession.

In a tossup I went with Rhode Island because they weren't very good and we were. Arizona was good.

Clarence Haynes 11 years ago

This loss hurt, but I still feel that the Arizona game was tougher to swallow! Otherwise, I compare this team to our 2007 team. That experience in my mind, paved the way for the 2008 team to mature and succeed. This team could do the same especially if X and Cole return.

Nikki May 11 years ago

I picked this year just because the sting is so fresh. After I get over it, I may change my answer. I'm sure I'll change my thoughts actually.

ROCK_CHALK_217 11 years ago

i think that it is the Syracuse game because i mean all we had to do waws make are free throws and we would have one. that also stung the most because we never know if Michael Lee's shot was going to go in. and it also stings because Kirk and Nick deserved a championship. My last reason is because if you watch Kirks final shot it almost went in.

milehighhawk 11 years ago

After being at both the Arizona & UNI losses, I think Arizona hurt more.

The Lehigh game was a reminder that we hadn't put together a full 40, which lowered my expectations coming in. I also had feared UNI for a few weeks. When we were down early and the 3s were falling for UNI, it was clear that it wasn't our day. Despite a valiant effort, we straight up didn't have it, and that was clear for most of the game.

For some reason in the Arizona game, I KNEW we would pull it out. Until the desperation heave by Raef failed to fall at the buzzer, I really, truly thought there was no way we could lose. That hurt more.

Robert Brock 11 years ago

It has to be the Arizona game. This KU team was #1 most of the year in a season with no really great team. It was a team that had some outstanding elements to it, but it was also riddled with weaknesses and never really clicked on all cylinders like we expected. The fact that this team earned the reputation of an unstoppable force was ludicrous. The '97 KU team was the most dominant team in the country that year with four first round draft picks in the starting lineup and a lethal combination of experience, chemistry and uncanny firepower. They lost to a great Arizona team, but the expectations of that KU team were probably the highest of any KU team in the last 25 years, which made it that much tougher to endure.

dmb22aj 11 years ago

Arizona by far to me stung the most...that team was not only one of( if not THE) best KU squads of all time, but one of college basketball's all-time great teams...they did have that killer instinct, the ability to get you down then step on your throat

FarSideHawk 11 years ago

97 loss to Arizona. I was a junior at KU that year and I remember how we never even considered the possibility of not winning the tournament. It was just going to be a coronoation event for the mighty Jayhawks.
Jacque Vaughn (still my all-time favorite Jayhawk) leading four future first rounders not even getting to Final Four?!

Norhtern Iowa, since this one is so fresh that it hurts a lot also, but we had been playing with fire all season long (with the exception of the Temple game) that it finally burnt us.

Can't wait for it to be October already. Rock Chalk JayHawk, Go KU!!!!

Justin LoBurgio 11 years ago

Maybe it is just me, but the 1995 loss to Virginia hurt pretty bad too. Not as much as UNI, AZ, UTEP or URI.....but still a painful memory.

Lawrence49 11 years ago

Losing to UNI was a real disaster for Sherron as it looks like he is a developmental league player. Cole looks like a bench player in the NBA, but it pays well.

julz 11 years ago

what about the 91 loss to duke in the championship game

kdeutch 11 years ago

Bucknell is the worst. 1997 Arizona had some future NBA stars on their team that were not hyped very much. Every fan who saw the occasional lackadaisical play from this year's team could have predicted the loss to a team like N. Iowa. The other games, well Coach Roy, was well...Coach Roy. At times, he could have the team too over emotional before a game. The seniors from the 2005 team (Simeon, Miles, Langford & Lee) were one overtime loss away from having 3 straight Final Four appearances! To this very day, I wonder how that loss to Bucknell ever happened!

100 11 years ago

My face has not flinched a smile or a frown for a full 48 hours. Strictly on a personal level, this one is by far the worst loss I've ever been associated with.

Especially considering the hype around it, everyone predicting us to win (which it was nearly 100% of the national talking heads), the President, and even winning the Higher Ed bracket, all fans nationally expected us to win this one.

In '97, it was very similar. Both years we were undoubtedly the best team.

But this one really hurt -- mainly because we knew Roy was capable of bungling something like this, sticking to his guns, not calling timeouts, etc.

But Self we know he can coach his way out of a black hole. Somehow, someway, we deep down were all expecting him to make an adjustment at halftime (like he's done so beautifully since the loss to Bucknell).

This one hurt the most because we truly knew we were the best team & we didn't make the adjustments we should have.

Put another way, give Self a time machine & a the tape of this game, let him recoach his team & make a new strategy: and we win by 30 pts.

But with Roy in '97, give him the tape, let him re-coach the players, and we don't change a thing.

As for painful losses, the '53 loss still hurts a lot, a last second shot by us that should have dropped against Indiana, but nothing was (at the time) more painful to me than the '57 loss, but the '08 victory over those guys in the Final Four which propelled us to a National Championship really helped to wipe the pain of that loss away.

The '71 loss in the Final Four was also just really poor. We played so well & hit some big shots. That travelling call at the 5 minute mark was complete B.!.S. & took away our momentum. Until that point we were running away with it. Still wonder what type of influence Wooden's presence had on that call (no way in the world was it a travel).


100 11 years ago


Too many to name but I'd also put UTEP in this category. Also the '66 loss really hurt (to Texas Western). Ironically later to be called UTEP. Those guys were good, but we were better. Later they said the best team they played was easily us. Good for us to hear at the time as they dominated Kentucky in the championship.

As KU fans, keep in mind this imaginary ghost of domination UK thinks they have over us included this year too (& this decade too). The beginning of the scheduling with Kentucky was always B.!S. from KU's standpoint. Yes it was good we scheduled. But keep in mind the series started with Rupp & Phog going at it. This lasted only a couple years. Then he was forced to resign due to age. At that point we seriously had to count on Harp & Owens to try to take down the Rupp (and later Joe. B Hall) teams. We did get a couple, but also keep in mind there was a lot of one point losses in there (including one in Lexington where Darnell Valentine called timeout when we had none). They still call that one of their top 10 wins ever. They were down 5 with a minute to go without the 3.

So this season is ironic, as we are talking all year about the two best programs in the history of college hoops -- KU & UK. Back on top again.

It was supposed to be the alltime winningness team versus the alltime winningness team #2 (of course UK is actually #3 on all time list if you just count D-1 games). The nation wanted it. We wanted it. The resolution of the 2008 championship game wasn't over yet. We knew too much about Calipari. This was less about UK, and so much more with him....

But that yearly contest (which Pitino trashed after Brown got it going again) was about to get ignited again...

And both fans were pumped -- this would have been the game for the ages, and, win or lose, this game would have been talked about forever...

This loss hurts more than them all combined.... The bright side of all this is, Coach Self -- he absolutely, unlike Roy, will make sure he becomes better, strategically, because of this.

The tape is his best friend.

Dan Cook 11 years ago

We were so far and away the best team in the nation in 1997. Way better than this year's team. That was to be Roy's 1st national title with many more to come.

If only those 35 years or older were eligible for this poll, I wouldn't believe the results unless the loss to Arizona was a clear winner as the one that hurt the most.

Thought I completely understand and still feel the hurt and numbness of the loss to Northern Iowa (and will for days to come), I recall how I felt in Birmingham that day. I was physically sick and unable to move for hours. I literally hid for days not wanting to speak to or see anyone. Utter devestation. As I left the Ford Center in OKC Saturday (before the KSU game), I was down, I was sad, I was upset, and I still am. But I'm not devestated.

Arizona in 1997. By a mile.

capnwacky 11 years ago

1997...and it's not even close.

That game changed the way I look at sports. Losses became just losses. And no matter how disappointed I was after each one, I knew I never wanted to feel THAT way again.

2003 was hard to deal with. '05 was sad. And, granted, 2010 is tough - probably the toughest since Arizona. But, no Kansas loss will EVER devastate me like that '97 one.

I won't let it.

captku 11 years ago

'97 was way harsh, and the 03 loss was bad also for the reasons 217 mentions with the freethrows (good Lord, and I thought Hinrich was also fouled at the end, but they don't ever call that). But for some reason the one that came to my mind was not the B's, but UTEP back ~ '93 (or somewhere there - I am too lazy right now to go hunt). Most likely because I lived in Texas back then and got a lot of the UTEP on it joke handed to me during that month. UNI has been lofted to the top 5, though.

KSseahawk 11 years ago

How do you scare a Jayhawk? UTEP 'em.

RockCaCO3 11 years ago

'97, hands down. That team was MUCH better than this one because they consistently played like a TEAM.

tical523 11 years ago

Northern Iowa is devastating, but Arizona was tragic.

Hawktacular 11 years ago

  1. 2003 (I burned things after this loss)
  2. Arizona
  3. UNI

JS82 11 years ago

For me in the order of highest pain:

1) 1997 2) 2003 3) UNI 4) 1986 Duke (not on list but painful at the time)

Jayhawks2244 11 years ago

Northern Iowa becase we were the favorite to win it all, even Obama picked us to win it all. This really stung and hurt beacuse it was Sherron's last year at KU; he was my favorite.

ku4bob 11 years ago

The 1997 team was truly dominate and played with enthusiasm and heart (all the time, not just in panicked spurts, if my memory serves me correctly). The way I recall that game, and feel to correct me if I'm wrong, our effort was great throughout the game. I don't recall yelling near the number of explitives in that game as I did this past Saturday. So the 1997 loss was the toughest as a emotional letdown, 1986 the most disappointing to lose to Duke for the second time that year, and the 2010 was the most aggravating.

All that said, I am very much a rock chalk addict and can't wait for the next iteration of KU basketball and football.

wyansas 11 years ago

1 Syracuse - I cried 2 Bucknell 3 Arizona 4 Rhode Island 5 This one

hewn 11 years ago

'97 without any question whatsoever. Still haunts me to this day.

This year was completely different. I never once understood why people thought this team was so dominant. They certainly didn't dominate on the court. They had some good wins and a lot of weak wins. Nothing to make you think they are a shoo-in for the championship - like in '97.

While this one is disappointing and frustrating, it absolutely should have been expected.

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