Numbers contradict Kansas reputation as tournament underachiever
Mike Vest, formerly of the Atlantic 10 Conference and the Big Ten Network and a graduate of the University of Kansas, took to Twitter (@mike_vest) to poke holes in the notion that Kansas has underachieved in the NCAA basketball tournament under coach Bill Self, who has reached the Elite Eight in half of his 14 seasons, been to two Final Fours and won a national championship in 2008.
1/ On KU & Self as 'underachievers': Does it feel like it? Sure. Do the numbers bear that out? Not really. Here are facts: pic.twitter.com/seBFbCQQMo— Mike Vest (@mike_vest) March 26, 2017
Kansas has earned a No. 1 seed in 7 of 11 seasons, a remarkable feat, and, of course, has an active regular-season conference winning streak of 13. Vest’s research also revealed that KU’s performance as a No. 1 seed is pretty much in line with the national average.
2/ In Self era, KU is 21-6 as 1-seed (78%). Everyone else as 1-seed: 163-39 (81%).— Mike Vest (@mike_vest) March 26, 2017
Vest also tweeted that No. 1 seeds have made the Final Four 35.7 percent of the time. Kansas under Self as a No. 1 seed seven times checks in at 28.6 percent. That borders on underachievement, until you consider a little overseeding likely was at work there. Nobody does a better job of schedule to exploit the RPI than assistant athletic director Larry Keating.
4/ Since 2004, 1 seeds only make FF 35.7% of the time. Just like bubble, people are over-obsessed with 1 seeds— Mike Vest (@mike_vest) March 26, 2017
Some things in sports pitch tents in people’s minds and never leave and this is one of them. Another example: McKenzie Calvert’s playing time was cut back after the Dec. 9 incident at the Yacht Club that resulted in Josh Jackson being charged with doing less than $1,000 in damage to her car. False. Calvert averaged 22.9 minutes in her next 11 games and her playing time wasn’t cut until her performance dropped off. Yet, I turned on ESPN one day and heard it being stated as fact, as it has been in print in various outlets. Once a narrative gets on down the road, it’s too inconvenient for some to stop it with facts and it takes on a life of its own.
In a couple of radio appearances the day before KU’s loss to Oregon, I shared my theory as to why Kansas has an unfair reputation as tournament underachievers. I believe it dates back to back-to-back first-round losses to Bucknell and Bradley in Self’s second and third seasons. It was so unusual for a blue blood to take back-to-back hits like that and it stayed in everybody’s brains.
Self’s 2-5 record in Elite Eight games at KU is not good any way you slice it, but it also demonstrates that he has reached the Elite Eight in 50 percent of his seasons at Kansas, an amazing success rate.