From the time of Big 12 divisions, through realignment and the subtraction/addition of teams and a new 10-team format, one thing has remained constant in the conference for the past decade: Kansas University's men's basketball team has always finished in first place.
All week long, we've been looking back at KU's 10 consecutive Big 12 championships by highlighting the top players and moments of each conference schedule, from 2005 to today.
Big 12 record: 14-4
Top 5 scorers
(Stats through March 7)
Andrew Wiggins, 16.0 points, 5.8 rebounds
Perry Ellis, 13.2 points, 6.4 rebounds
Joel Embiid, 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocks
Wayne Selden, 10.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists
Naadir Tharpe, 9.2 points, 5.1 assists
3 memorable moments
- Naadir Tharpe (19 points) hit 6 of 7 shots and scored 12 of the Jayhawks' final 18 points down the stretch to defeat Oklahoma, 83-75, at Allen Fieldhouse, where KU clinched a share of its 10th straight Big 12 championship.
“Naadir closed the game the way point guards are supposed to close. The last 10 minutes is as good as Naadir has played since he’s been at KU. All teams that have a chance at having a great season have guys that can close, when you don’t run offense and put the ball in his hands. It’s what great teams have.”
— Bill Self
- Andrew Wiggins scored a game-high 19 points, his last two coming when he picked up a loose ball in the paint and put it in the basket with 1.7 seconds remaining in a 64-63 Kansas victory at Texas Tech.
“It was slippery, like it slipped on the way up. I just had to guide it in… It bounced high. I was worried about it, but it went in."
— Andrew Wiggins, on game-winner
- Frank Mason foiled a would-be buzzer-beater from Le'Bryan Nash to finish off an 80-78 Kansas home victory over Oklahoma State in which Naadir Tharpe scored 21 points and dished six assists.
“It was accomplishment definitely more than relief. They’ve been talking about Oklahoma State and Kansas for a while. Since the beginning of the year, that’s all we’ve been hearing. It’s all we’ve been hearing even before conference play started, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma State. It’s more an accomplishment we went out there and played our game more than anything.”
— Naadir Tharpe
2014 BIG 12 STANDINGS
Iowa State, 11-7
Kansas State, 10-8
West Virginia, 9-9
Oklahoma State, 8-10
Texas Tech, 6-12
10 years of Big 12 supremacy
Friday: 2013 and 2014
So, you might have heard Kansas University's men's basketball team has been fairly successful in the Big 12 for the past 10 years.
Here is where you quote Cecil Terwilliger from an episode of "The Simpsons" in which his brother, Sideshow Bob, admits he has had some legal troubles:
"Goodness, I had no idea! For you see, I have been on Mars for the last decade, in a cave, with my eyes shut and my fingers in my ears."
Once the Jayhawks earned their 10th conference championship in a row by beating Oklahoma on Monday night, the rest of the college basketball world began acknowledging the incredible run from afar without being so snarky.
Here are some of the highlights from around the web:
• SI.com's Brain Hamilton examined Bill Self's 10 regular-season championships and pitted the feats against each other.
Hamilton then offered his top three performances. As he put it, these seasons posed the "greatest threat to the streak."
No. 1: 2008-09 — Five new starters and finished 14-2
No. 2: 2013-14 — Five new starters and currently 13-2 with three games to go
No. 3: 2005-06 — Five new starters and finished 13-3
The selection of '08-'09, the season after Kansas won the national championship, as No. 1 was pretty simple for Hamilton:
"Every element was there for a drop-off, maybe even a prodigious one, after the core of the Jayhawks’ national title team (including top reserve Sasha Kaun) departed."
Go read his full post for his breakdown on the three seasons worth of impressive coaching jobs.
• Yahoo Sports writer Jeff Eisenberg compared KU's conference title streak to runs of dominance by other teams, and in other sports, including the professional ranks.
Check out the full list, which includes the most consecutive division titles in MLB history (14 by the Atlanta Braves from 1991-2005) and most consecutive division titles in NBA history (nine by the Boston Celtics from 1957-65 and nine by the Los Angeles Lakers from 1982-1990).
• At SportingNews.com, Bill Bender threw out some of the gaudy numbers associated with the Kansas run.
Bender rattles off some of the W-L totals from the past 10 years in a list documenting KU's success. One of the more impressive stats: Kansas hasn't lost more than four Big 12 games in a single season during its 10-year reign at the top.
In the hours following the Jayhawks' victory on Monday, college hoops aficionados throughout the Twitterverse paid homage not only to KU's Big 12 title streak, but also to the Jayhawks and where they are as a unit at this point in the season. Below are some of the highlights:
Dick Vitale yelled "Dickie V" type things via social media:
Seth Davis weighed in on Self...
… the streak…
… the play of point guard Naadir Tharpe…
… and on KU's title potential this season.
Fran Frachilla, who was on the ESPN broadcast of the historic victory Monday, always is complimentary of Self:
KU's title streak impressed Jay Bilas...
… Clark Kellogg…
… and Kentucky beat writer Kyle Tucker, of The Courier Journal, too.
And ESPN.com's Myron Medcal said KU is capable of playing at an even higher level.
In non-title streak news...
• The folks at rushthecourt.net put together a different kind of top 25 this week.
For this experiment, eight different voters ranked their top 25 teams in the nation based on which team is most likely to make the deepest run in the NCAA Tournament.
Kansas came out as the No. 1 team, followed by Florida, Arizona, Michigan State and Louisville.
None of the eight pollsters ranked KU lower than fourth. The two voters who chose Kansas as their No. 4 went with Arizona in the No. 1 spot.
The article also includes some reasons KU could run into trouble in March Madness. Brian Otskey points to turnovers and a high foul rate for the Jayhawks, among other things.
• ESPN.com's C.L. Brown thinks Kansas looks tournament-ready after the Jayhawks' Big Monday win over Oklahoma.
"If you aren't yet familiar with (Joel) Embiid or any of the Jayhawks, you might want to learn their names. They look like a team that’s going to be playing for a while come tournament time."
• At bleacherreport.com, writer Jason King says Joel Embiid is the best NBA prospect out of Kansas since Danny Manning.