Self Madness 2020: Title Game, complete with Bill Self's thoughts on the fictional matchup
Watching the top seed in our Self Madness bracket breeze into the title game was far from a surprise.
Everyone knew when this thing began that the 2007-08 team would be pretty much impossible to take down. And the voting has certainly proven that.
In three rounds of voting, with more than 10,000 votes cast, the national champs from 12 years ago have had just 32 votes go against them. That included a shutout in the quarterfinals and just 22 votes against them in the semifinals against Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor’s Final Four team.
Again, that part of the bracket was hardly a surprise.
The bottom half of the bracket was a little more interesting in terms of how the matchups laid out, but the 2019-20 team also cruised into the title game in convincing fashion, winning its semifinal matchup against the 2017-18 team with 75% of the vote.
Call it a recency bias — although the 2018 Final Four is not that long ago — or maybe it was a vote based on emotion since this year’s team did not even get the chance to make its run in the NCAA Tournament.
Either way, we’ve got the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in our final game and the voting ends tonight, which, not so coincidentally, also would have been the night of the 2020 national championship game in Atlanta.
Before we get to the specific resume of each team, let’s take a quick look at what KU coach Bill Self thought about the fictional matchup, which he shared during an episode of The Jayhawker Podcast with Brian Hanni.
“First of all, college basketball is not as good now as it was then,” Self said, comparing 2020 to 2008. “You know, let’s be real because there’s less good players playing in college now than there was then. You go back and look at that Final Four, I don’t know that this year’s Final Four, no matter who is playing in it, would have that many of those same type of guys in it.”
Seven of them were future NBA players on the KU roster, of course, but Memphis, North Carolina and UCLA all were full of stars, as well.
“I do think, in relative terms, this year’s team may have been better than that year’s team was (compared to college basketball as a whole) that same year,” Self noted. “That year’s team was the fourth No. 1 seed. We were supposedly the fourth-best team in the country when we won it. This year we’re going in as the (likely) No. 1 (overall) seed.”
“I still don’t know that anybody will be better than that ’08 team,” Self added. “You’ve got seven NBA players on that ’08 team and this year, on our team total, there were eight players. So you don’t know how those things will play out, and certainly I hope we have guys that can play at the next level for a long time, but the reason why this team was (so good) was because they were tough. That team in ’08 was tough, but this team was just as tough.”
Here’s one last look at the matchups — not that you need them — along with the final round of voting below.
Thanks for your participation in this bracket and, if you haven’t by now, be sure you’re registered to win the $500 prize from Truity Credit Union.
- 2007-08 • 37-3
The deepest and most balanced team Self has had at KU not only won six straight games in the 2008 NCAA Tournament to give Self his first title, but it also was the last team standing at the only Final Four to date that featured all four No. 1 seeds. Led by four players in double figures in scoring — Brandon Rush (13.3), Mario Chalmers (12.8), Darrell Arthur (12.8), Darnell Jackson (11.2) — and a fifth who was right there in sophomore Sherron Collins (9.3), the 2007-08 Jayhawks had terrific talent, ideal chemistry and the players who filled their roles to perfection. After rolling to 20 wins to open the season, the Jayhawks won the Big 12 regular season crown, the Big 12 tournament title and reached the Final Four by rolling past Portland State and UNLV in Omaha, Neb., and Villanova and a Steph-Curry-led Davidson team in Detroit. From there, Kansas clobbered Roy Williams and North Carolina and knocked off John Calipari’s Memphis Tigers, 75-68 in overtime, after Chalmers’ miracle shot saved KU in regulation.
No. 2 • 2019-20 • 28-3
There’s no telling if this year’s team would have brought a banner back to Allen Fieldhouse or not, but Self, along with dozens of national college basketball analysts, have said they thought this group had as good a shot as anybody to win it all. This group featured a trio of difference makers — on both ends of the floor — and was backed by a solid supporting cast that knew its role and knew how and when to play it. Big 12 Player of the Year and double-double machine Udoka Azubuike (13.7 points, 10.5 rebounds) was the biggest problem. Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Garrett was the glue that held everything together on both ends of the court. And prolific point guard Devon Dotson led the Big 12 in scoring (18.1 ppg) and earned all-Big 12 and All-American honors from several outlets. A year after watching the Big 12 title streak come to an end, the Jayhawks climbed back on top of the conference with the best record in the history of the Big 12 (17-1) and ended the season on a 16-game winning streak.
NO. 1 vs. NO. 2 MATCHUP
Russell Robinson, Sr.
Mario Chalmers, Jr.
Brandon Rush, Jr.
Darrell Arthur, Soph.
Darnell Jackson, Sr.
Devon Dotson, Soph.
Isaiah Moss, Sr.
Ochai Agbaji, Soph.
Marcus Garrett, Jr.
Udoka Azubuike, Sr.
Sherron Collins, Soph.
Sasha Kaun, Sr.
Cole Aldrich, Fr.
David McCormack, Soph.
Christian Braun, Fr.
Tristan Enaruna, Fr.
Final Ranking: No. 1
Offensive Efficiency: 2nd
Defensive Efficiency: 1st
Strength of Schedule: 14th
Final Ranking: No. 1
Offensive Efficiency: 8th
Defensive Efficiency: 2nd
Strength of Schedule: 2nd
Points Per Game: 80.5 (13th)
Points Allowed Per Game: 61.5 (21st)
FG Percentage: 50.8 (2nd)
3-point Percentage: 39.7 (15th)
Rebounding Margin: +7.9
Points Per Game: 74.6 (88th)
Points Allowed Per Game: 60.7 (10th)
FG Percentage: 48.4 (9th)
3-point Percentage: 34.4 (117th)
Rebounding Margin: +6.6