Which would you say was the most painful NCAA loss of the Bill Self era at KU?

Georgia Tech (2004) 0% 15 votes

Bucknell (2005) 12% 475 votes

Bradley (2006) 2% 92 votes

UCLA (2007) 0% 22 votes

Michigan State (2009) 0% 11 votes

Northern Iowa (2010) 25% 992 votes

VCU (2011) 27% 1078 votes

Kentucky (2012) 4% 185 votes

Michigan (2013) 25% 995 votes

Undecided 1% 47 votes

3912 total votes


KU_alum_2001 7 years, 8 months ago

This is just a painful, PAINFUL survey. F! I went with VCU but just look at this series of losses. I'm not knocking Self. I'll be upfront on that. It's March Madness and anything goes. However I will admit that when you look at this list, it is VERY painful.

I don't mind getting beat by better teams. I can accept that KU won't always be the best. That was last year against UK. However what kills me is the four losses to teams (Bucknell, Bradley, Northern Iowa, and VCU) we should have NEVER lost to and the two losses to teams (Michigan State and Michigan) where we were in command of the game late into the 2nd Half and simply fell apart and blew it. I have no issues with the GT loss or the UCLA loss. The UK loss was only painful because it was the championship. However that means that I've been massively disappointed/shocked in 6 of the last 10 seasons... with one of those being the most amazing games (2008 title) I've ever seen.

That is a very painful track record. It's not easy being a team where your fans have exceptionally high expectations (because it's earned) but when you have this many disappointing losses, it does leave one a little jaded.

Expectations will be lower next year, Self will overdeliver (as always)... and then March will come around again. Hopefully the team can play its best for 40 FULL minutes, regardless of outcome, and then I'll accept the outcome, so long as the best team wins, because KU has been that best team in too many of these losing games.

KU_alum_2001 7 years, 8 months ago

The 1997 loss to Arizona is still the worst of all, though. Such a ridiculously-talented team. Astonishing. To this day, Roy still says it's the most painful loss of his career.

discgav 7 years, 7 months ago

Haase with his hurt wrist was no match for Bibby. This was the only position where Arizona was better. Still with the talent KU had they were hands down the best team by a long margin. We over looked Arizona and unfortunately the best team lost. Most heart breaking loss KU has ever had.

doctorWho 7 years, 7 months ago

I agree, it was one of the worst losses in KU history, though there was a certain triple overtime game and one in the Owens era that were pretty bad, too.

JH being hurt and Vaughn's limited range killed us. We were fortunate Pierce was on that team. He would have been one-and-done in today's era. He might not have been the only one.

kay_you 7 years, 8 months ago

Gotta say Kentucky only because that was the closest we came to a national title. No matter how good you are most seasons you are destined to lose.

All in all it's been a great 10 years. Thanks Bill.

kay_you 7 years, 8 months ago

I found the losses in the Roy Williams era more painful.

yates33333 7 years, 7 months ago

Although it doesn't belong here, I found the triple overtime loss to UNC when Wilt played the one that hurt the most. I listened on the radio and prayed during each OT. I've since decided God doesn't care who wins. I am not absolutely sure. He may remember his years on The Hill.

justinryman 7 years, 8 months ago

Northern Iowa, not only the loss, but how KU lost.

They go out hustled, they got out played and it seemed like they didn't try to win it until about 4 minutes left in the game.

sevenyearhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

That loss, coming on an awful snowy and bleak day, absolutely shattered my confidence in the KU Men's basketball program ... took me nearly three years to even care again.

A couple NBA lottery picks with NCAA title-game expereince couldn't lead their team to victory over some greasy piece of Eurotrash?


discgav 7 years, 7 months ago

Early foul trouble didn't help as all the calls went against us early and the opposing center hitting three's. Sherron was the only player who was busting his tail while the rest of the team showed no fire or desire to win. I still feel if we had gone to a full court press, in the first half, we would have caught them and then put on run to put them away in the second half.

FearlessJayhawk 7 years, 8 months ago

I was wondering how many other schools have this kind of a line-up of disappointments? I cannot think of anyone that has lost more heart-breakers. These don't even include the Roy Williams debacles. In 98 we barely lost to Arizona who won the championship. The championship we gave away to the Cuse because we couldn't make any free-throws. In 1966,we lost to Texas-Western. Jo-Jo White made the winning bucket but they said his foot was on the line. They won the championship that year. It goes on and on.

timecronk 7 years, 7 months ago

I would say the University of Utah, because they always seem to lose to Kentucky in the tournament. Imagine if we lost to the same school over and over again.

Lance Hobson 7 years, 7 months ago

And again in 1992, only they went by the name UTEP. Another #1 seed down in the second round.

Joel Hood 7 years, 8 months ago

Just my opinion, but all these losses hurt more for us because we are so emotionally invested. There is no joy in just getting into the tourney, like many/most other fans experience. We are there every year - more consistently than anyone else in recent history. We are typically only happy when we make a final four - but that is tempered if we don't win - the only true joy comes from a NC (sigh).

Michigan this year was a horrible loss - we dominated the game but played horrible in the last 4 minutes of each half. We played well for 32 of the 45 minutes and handed the game to them. Arizona in 1997 was the worst for me.

PenguinPete 7 years, 7 months ago

I agree. I think, as a fan base, the fact that our expectations are so high makes every loss disappointing. It's not that we lose more bad games than anyone else. We just take it pretty hard when we lose.

rwhawk 7 years, 8 months ago

I went with VCU because I thought that that team was by far the best in the country and while anything can happen in March, I was most confident in that team. Kentucky was bittersweet because I didn't expect us to get to the title game and UK was just so good and the match-up was not a good one for that team. Bucknell was hard because it was that first huge upset with Self and I loved those seniors. Michigan was bad this year, but had we followed seed I'm not sure we would have gotten the ball past mid-court for much of the game against that Louisville pressure.

The great part of this list, which most schools don't have, is a skipped year. Funny enough, for all the bad losses on the list, the year we won it was full of some extremely talented teams. All four of those #1 seeds would have won the NC some of these other years.

But worst in my lifetime...

'97 Arizona, '03 Syracuse, '11 VCU, '12 Missouri (of course, the counterpart in AFH ranks pretty high as favorite wins).

Robert Brown 7 years, 7 months ago

I picked Michigan because of the way we lost. Up until the championship game, Michigan was pretty much unchallenged and I am sure many of us believe, we would have beaten Florida and at least go to the Final Four.

Bucknell and Bradley were more embarrassing than painful to me and neither team was probably favored to get to the Final Four.

For me VCU was tough because KU was one game away from playing the Final Four in my place of residence in Houston. It was not a 'painful" because we were never really in the game. Northern Iowa was tough because we got outhustled but that was also a game where we never ever had control.

In the Michigan game, we had control for 38 minutes and still only needed to make a free throw to win it.

By the way, you want painful. I take you back to my senior year in 1981, when getting the tournament was treat. KU was a hot team and made it to the Sweet 16 to play Wichita State, who we had refused to play for over 20 years. We seemingly had the game won, but made a couple of turnovers and missed a key free throw and a player from WSU hits a couple of long shots including one with a few seconds remaining to beat the Hawks by one point. That was one of the most painful losses I have experienced.

Michael Bratisax 7 years, 7 months ago

'81 was my 1st senior year but too much partying and I needed one more year to finish. More IS better!

Tan Hong Woon 7 years, 7 months ago

I picked Michigan too. It is just too much when we are in control of the whole game and still leading by about 12-14 with 2-3 minutes left in the game. It feels worst than the TCU game (which sets a few worst loss record). Also, after watching the final between Louisville and Michigan, I just feel like we could have beaten Michigan in a much convincing way and therefore a better match up with Louisville. Sure, Louisville managed to hold off Michigan's run at the end but surely we are the better team against Michigan most of the time. All in all, I still feel too painful to watch the bitter 16 game again.

yates33333 7 years, 7 months ago

In a way it's Hell to be a KU fan. I remember all these vividly. In the WSU game Darnell Valentine was fouled, and fouled big time, on the out of bounds play at the very end, but as usual, no whistle. Do you think the Devil wears a zebra striped shirt and blows a whistle???

kay_you 7 years, 7 months ago

Regardless of how good we are I don't expect to win a national title because it's not realistic. If college had a true playoff system I would find losses like 97 and 03 more disappointing but overall I've found the good memories overshadow the disappointments. Beating K-State 3 times gives me great satisfaction and beating Mizou last year was a season in itself. I still get warm and fuzzy whenever I think of that game.

drum1984 7 years, 7 months ago

I think it has to be Northern Iowa in 2010. Just look at KU's roster from that year. There were 14 guys that were or would become starter caliber. There was no question but that KU was the best team in the country that season.

jayhawkinnc 7 years, 7 months ago

For me, it was a toss up between Northern Iowa in '10 and VCU in '11. I ultimately went with the Northern Iowa loss in '10. That year, we were the overall #1 seed in the tournament and our roster was so loaded with great talent. It was frustrating because KU's only lead was at 2-0. UNI hit an early 3 to take the lead after that and the rest is history. We just couldn't catch them playing the catch up game and they beat us by 2........69-67. We had just 2 losses entering the tourney that year and we all expected to be cutting the nets down in Indianapolis. Our roster was SO LOADED with talent: Cole, the Twins, Sherron, Tyshawn, Xavier, EJ, CJ, T-Rob. Heck, even Withey was our 5th string big man that year (he became eligible in December of '09). Just a very frustrating end to a successful season as we had such higher hopes than an appearance in the Round of 32.

Sam Constance 7 years, 7 months ago

I too think it comes down to VCU or Northern Iowa. To me, the Michigan game is getting unwarranted emphasis because of the recency and how we controlled the game for the first 36 minutes. However, if you take a step back, Michigan was one of of a small list of national title threats all season long, and took a freefall on seeding because of their late struggles.

I ended up going with VCU because of the combination of how late we lost to them and how low-rated they were (Pomeroy, not seed). VCU was ranked in the 50s of Pomeroy and really should never have been playing in an Elite 8 game. We lost because we underestimated them, and the fact that the Final Four opened up for one terrible shooting team to barely scrape by another terrible shooting team only made it more painful. And just to bring it back to this year's loss, I think having to play Butler and Connecticut to win a championship would've been (in hindsight) a far easier task than beating Florida, Syracuse and Louisville this year.

UNI was pretty painful too, but when you lose in the second round, you don't feel like the title was just within your fingertips. Plus, they were in the 20s of Pomeroy, so relatively a much better team than VCU, in spite of the fact that their seeds ended up being similar.

Ben Simonett 7 years, 7 months ago


Michigan game is over weighted because its the one everybody remembers. We lost to the national runner up in the sweet sixteen. Thats nowhere as bad as UNI or even VCU.

I went with VCU because i still believe we would have cut down the nets if we made it the final 4. That team was better than UConn and Butler

Brad Avery 7 years, 7 months ago

The last one really, really was difficult. Most difficult loss since Syracuse. We were AHEAD by 14 friggin' points and then lost to Michigan because 1) They didn't foul Trey Burke when KU was still up by three with less than 10 seconds to go and 2) Withey was out of the game the previous Michigan possession when KU was up by five and the defense allowed a quick gimme two and 3) EJ, after hitting a trey to bring KU within reach, forgoes a layup with 3 seconds for a tie in overtime and tosses the ball to Tharpe who missed an improbable trey. Ouuchhhh! And, oh, did I mention the missed free throws? The other losses were just ones where the Jayhawks played badly. This one was a brightly wrapped belated Christmas present for Michigan.

"I wear the chain I forged in life! I made it link by link and yard by yard! I gartered it on of my own free will and by my own free will, I wore it!" Jacob Marley

Joe Baker 7 years, 7 months ago

The UCLA, MSU, uk, and even Michigan was painful. Any loss is painful, but there are a few that make no sense and UNI was the most painful for me because there was no reason to lose that game. They deserved to lose the VCU game for obvious reasons and that team was scary. The Bucknell and Bradley loses were early in his coaching experience at KU. The last loss against Michigan game was a classic example of KU beating KU so it wasn't quite as painful. We all knew Michigan was dangerous, the KU players forgot that after their 14 pt lead was blown. The Georgia Tech game was similar to the Michigan game. They stopped playing KU basketball those last 3-4 mins of the game and missed every break given to them. Michigan took full advantage of their breaks and won.

Joe Baker 7 years, 7 months ago

The only problem with Roy was, he had the most opportunities, game for game to win a NC with better talent than he arguably had at UNC and lost every time. My only pain with him, he never won a NC at KU. This will be Roy's legacy at KU. HOF coach that failed to win at at least one NC at one of the most blue blood bball programs, with some of the best talent in NCAA history. He then goes to UNC, gets less talent, and wins not one but two NCs? We now beat UNC three times in the tourney and guess karma is a real pain too. It's almost like Roy is paying a debt he left at KU, love it. But love Roy for the most part. He is a good guy.

Jeffery Barrett 7 years, 7 months ago

It's a tie between Bradley, Bucknell, Northern Iowa and VCU. But actually I chose the Michigan game because they had the win in their hands and played not to lose......and it's the most recent.

oddgirl 7 years, 7 months ago

They are all painful, of course, but I went with the VCU loss because a win would have put the Jayhawks in the Final Four. This year's loss to Michigan would rank second, because of the way they blew such a big lead. It was a messy collapse.

But for me, the most painful loss that I remember is the 2003 national title defeat to Syracuse. KU was a much better team than Syracuse. Stick Hinrich on McNamara from the start, rather than waiting until the 2nd half, and I bet you he doesn't hit anywhere close to six 3-pointers. MAKE EVEN 50% OF YOUR FREE THROWS and they still win that game, even with all the other issues in that game.

Lance Hobson 7 years, 7 months ago

42 people undecided? Remind me never to put you in charge of anything.

Lance Hobson 7 years, 7 months ago

Had to go with VCU. It was a no-name team and we thought a lucky draw that would get us an easy win for the Final 4. Then we'd have played Butler and a mediocre UCONN team for an easy title. Self knew we blew a big opportunity, we all did and it still hurts. It also hurts because some of our seniors got scared in the second half, you could sense it.

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