Introducing 'Self Madness 2020'
Just because the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus does not mean that Kansas fans have to miss out on their annual bracket fun.
I’m sure many of you have seen — or even filled out — the fast-food bracket, the binge-watch bracket or even the 64 greatest moments of the NCAA Tournament bracket that have been circulating during the past week.
They’re fun. They help pass the time in a period of uneasiness and uncertainty. And they give us something other than the global health crisis to talk about.
I get it. Those brackets, and others like them, don’t come close to bringing the same amount of joy and excitement as filling out your annual March Madness bracket. But maybe this one will.
Introducing KUsports.com’s all-KU bracket, brought to you by Truity Credit Union.
“Self Madness” we’ll call it, and, in the next few weeks, we’ll pit all 17 of Self’s Kansas teams against each other in an online vote to determine which of the Hall of Fame coach’s teams were his best since he joined the Jayhawks.
Because 17 is not a clean number, we’ve even got a play-in game! More on that below.
Many of you have asked and wondered where this year’s team fits into the big picture among the all-time great Kansas teams. And while we’ll never know if they would have been the second Bill Self-coached Kansas team to cut down the nets on the final Monday of the college basketball season, we will, after this bracket, have a little better idea of exactly where Udoka Azubuike, Devon Dotson and Marcus Garrett’s gang belongs in the big picture.
Voting for the play-in game begins Monday morning and will run through midnight Tuesday. After that, we’ll set up the full 16-team bracket and voting for Round 1 will begin Thursday.
Keep an eye on this blog and Twitter (@KUSports) for results, the updated bracket and links to vote.
One voter will be selected at random for the $500 grand prize from Truity Credit Union. So be sure to register when voting to be eligible for the cash.
Without further ado, here are the seeds for Self Madness.
1. 2007-08 • 37-3 • National champs
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.
2. 2019-20 • 28-3 • Likely No. 1 overall seed
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.
3. 2017-18 • 31-8 • Final Four participant
Arguably the best offensive team Self has ever coached at KU, the 2017-18 Jayhawks embraced all the aesthetically captivating aspects of living that four-guard life.
KU surrounded 7-foot sophomore center Udoka Azubuike (13 points per game, 77% field goal percentage) with sharpshooting senior guards Devonte’ Graham (17.3 points, 40.6% on 3-pointers) and Svi Mykhailiuk (14.6 points, 44.4% 3-pointers), as well as Malik Newman (14.2 points, 41.5% 3-pointers) and Lagerald Vick (12.1 points, 37.3% 3-pointers).
With a virtually unstoppable center in Azubuike, and always-confident floor-stretching guards around him, KU shot 49.2% from the floor overall, went 391-for-974 on 3-pointers (40.1%) and put up 81.4 points per game en route to the program’s 14th straight Big 12 title and a run to the Final Four.
A No. 1 seed in the Midwest in 2018, the Jayhawks, led by consensus All-American Graham, went through Penn, Seton Hall, Clemson and Duke before meeting their match against eventual champion Villanova in San Antonio.
4. 2011-12 • 32-7 • National runner-up
Who could ever forget Thomas Robinson’s monster junior season, filled with double-doubles (he averaged 17.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game) and wild finishes? Or his running mate, Tyshawn Taylor (16.6 ppg), whose speed, toughness and playmaking ability helped lead this team all the way to the national title game against Kentucky in New Orleans.
That dynamic duo took the Jayhawks on a wild ride through the NCAA Tournament, which featured KU barely surviving Round 2 against Purdue and intense battles with North Carolina State, North Carolina and Ohio State in the three rounds that followed.
Joined in the starting lineup by Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and swat king Jeff Withey, these Jayhawks were one of Self’s thinnest teams — sharp-shooter Conner Teahan and electric forward Kevin Young were the only other two who played consistent minutes — but also one of the toughest.
Never was that more evident than in the final Border War game with Missouri at Allen Fieldhouse, where Kansas came back from 19 points down to send off their rival to the SEC in dramatic fashion late in the season.
5. 2009-10 • 33-3 • Lost 2nd Round to Northern Iowa
The No. 1 overall seed entering the 2010 NCAA Tournament was loaded with talent, experience, depth, versatility and saddled with just two losses — at Tennessee and at Oklahoma State.
Some future stars, i.e., Taylor and Marcus Morris, were just getting started and a pair of upperclassmen named Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich led this team on both offense and defense.
Kansas finished 15-1 in Big 12 play and rolled through the Big 12 Tournament by an average margin of victory of 11 points per game.
Collins led the team at 15.5 points per game and freshman Xavier Henry, a smooth 6-foot-6 lefty expected to be KU’s latest one-and-done phenom averaged 13.4 points per game.
These Jayhawks finished the season ranked in the top eight in both offensive and defensive efficiency, but ran into upset-minded Northern Iowa and encountered a much tougher second-round showdown than anyone expected. UNI guard Ali Farokhmanesh delivered the dagger 3-pointer with 34 seconds to play in the 69-67 KU loss.
6. 2010-11 • 35-3 • Reached Elite 8
It was the year of The Morrii, and with twin bigs Marcus and Markieff Morris scoring at all three levels, the Jayhawks rolled much of the season, outscoring opponents by an average of 16.5 points per game.
KU entered the NCAA Tournament on an eight-game winning streak, and having suffered only two losses the entire season. The “Family Over Everything” mantra of Marcus (17.2 points per game, 7.6 rebounds) and Markieff (13.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 42.4% 3-point shooting) seemed to permeate the balanced roster, with guards Tyshawn Taylor, Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar and Josh Selby serving as the supporting cast.
KU went into the Big Dance as a No. 1 seed in the Southwest region, and after breezing past Boston and Illinois in the opening weekend, the Jayhawks saw the rest of the bracket open up, as they were joined in the Sweet 16 by double-digit seeds Richmond (12), VCU (11) and Florida State (10).
Kansas beat Richmond by 20 only to go cold in the Elite Eight (2-for-21 from 3-point range) and lose to VCU, 71-61.
7. 2016-17 • 31-5 • Reached Elite 8
This offensive juggernaut was led by national player of the year point guard Frank Mason III (20.9 points per game) and a supporting cast that included future All-American Devonte’ Graham (13.4 ppg) and No. 4 overall draft pick Josh Jackson (16.3).
After rolling to another Big 12 title with a 16-2 mark, the Jayhawks appeared to be well on their way to reaching another Final Four, and perhaps more, when the postseason arrived.
After delivering three of the most lopsided wins of the tournament over UC Davis (100-62), Michigan State (90-70) and Purdue (98-66), KU was upset by Oregon, in Kansas City, Mo., of all places.
Lagerald Vick’s 360 dunk in the win over Purdue is one of the lasting images of the season that also featured big man Landen Lucas serving as a defensive anchor and rebounding force down low.
8. 2006-07 • 33-5 • Reached Elite 8
This team played a key part in the progression of Kansas becoming a national champion again.
With sophomore Julian Wright in the lineup as the team’s third leading scorer (12 points per game), the Jayhawks lost just four times all season heading into the NCAA Tournament. Three of the four losses were on the road and the fourth was the thrilling, Texas A&M/Acie Law IV game at Allen Fieldhouse.
Rush (13.5) and Chalmers (11.5) led the team in scoring and Arthur (9.8) and Collins (9.3) learned valuable lessons about playing at the college level — and for Self — that served them well in KU’s pursuit of the title a year later.
After a 14-2 run through the Big 12, KU won the Big 12 Tournament crown with a classic, overtime win over Texas in Oklahoma City and entered the tournament as a No. 1 seed.
The Jayhawks rolled over Niagara in Round 1 and dumped Kentucky in Round 2 before surviving a physical war with Southern Illinois in the Sweet 16. That set up an Elite Eight showdown with UCLA and many Kansas fans remain bitter that the Bruins, seeded second, wound up with the advantage of facing top-seeded KU in San Jose instead of somewhere closer to Kansas.
KU lost that game, 68-55 — delivering UCLA the second of three consecutive trips to the Final Four under Ben Howland — and finished the season one step shy of reaching the Final Four for the first time since Roy Williams left in 2003.
9. 2003-04 • 24-9 • Reached Elite 8
Despite new leadership, the Jayhawks, during the first year of the Self era, nearly made it three straight trips to the Final Four.
Ranked No. 16 in the nation entering the NCAA Tournament, after a 21-8 regular season, Self led Kansas all the way to overtime of the Elite Eight game against Georgia Tech and to the brink of the promised land.
His ability to take Williams’ players and guide them on a deep tournament run went a long way toward proving to Kansas fans that Self was up for the challenge of leading the tradition-rich program. It also helped his players buy into what he was doing, which took some time and was not by any means automatic.
Junior forward Wayne Simien led this team in scoring at 17.8 points per game, and Keith Langford (15.5) and freshman J.R. Giddens (11.3) also scored in double digits.
The 2003-04 Jayahwks, at 12-4, finished tied for second in the Big 12 race, marking the final time KU would finish out of the top spot in the conference for the next 14 seasons.
10. 2012-13 • 31-6 • Reached Sweet 16
With three key returners from the 2012 run to the national title game, this team entered the season ranked No. 7 in the nation and stayed in the top 10 for all but two weeks.
Led by the experienced trio of Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey, the Jayhawks’ starting lineup received a major boost from All-American Ben McLemore.
The St. Louis native and future NBA lottery pick led Kansas at 15.9 points per game and Self’s squad featured another balanced look, with four players averaging in double figures.
Senior forward Kevin Young also returned in a key role and the Jayhawks tied for first at 14-4 in Big 12 Conference play and went on to reach the Sweet 16 and finish with a 31-6 record.
Kansas nearly advanced to yet another Elite Eight under Self, but lost to Michigan in Round 3 in Dallas despite controlling most of the game. Wolverines guard Trey Burke buried an insanely deep 3-pointer late to tie the game and send it to overtime and KU fell 87-85.
11. 2015-16 • 33-5 • Reached Elite 8
It had been a rough couple of Marches for KU before the 2015-16 team helped the Jayhawks rediscover some NCAA Tournament normalcy.
With upperclassmen Perry Ellis (16.9 points, 5.8 rebounds), Wayne Selden Jr. (13.8 points), Frank Mason III (12.9 points, 4.6 assists) and Landen Lucas (5.8 points, 6.8 rebounds) all having experienced early second-round exits in each of the previous two seasons, the group broke through for a deep run.
Ranked No. 1 in the AP poll entering the postseason, the Jayhawks’ winning streak was at 14 by the time the tournament began.
KU, of course, had a No. 1 seed, this time in the South region. The Jayhawks scored 105 points in a first-round win over Austin Peay and knocked off Connecticut and Maryland before running into an underappreciated No. 2 seed in Villanova. The soon-to-be champs, Villanova, edged KU, 64-59, in the Elite Eight.
12. 2004-05 • 23-7 • Lost 1st Round to Bucknell
After a strong start to his Kansas postseason career in 2004, Self and the Jayhawks fell on hard times in 2005.
Despite spending the entire season in the top 10 — most of it in the top five, including the preseason No. 1 ranking — the Jayhawks entered the NCAA Tournament on fumes and with injuries as a part of the equation.
That made the 12th-ranked and 3rd-seeded Jayhawks ripe for the picking, and the Bucknell Bison were there to take advantage of it.
No. 14 seed Bucknell knocked off KU, 64-63 in Oklahoma City, during Self’s second NCAA Tournament at KU, putting a sour taste on the end of the careers of Simien, Langford, Aaron Miles and Mike Lee, who opened their time at Kansas with back-to-back trips to the Final Four under Williams.
The most memorable thing that came out of the season was KU winning the first of what would become a 14-year streak of Big 12 Conference titles.
The Jayhawks won the Big 12 regular-season crown, at 12-4, before losing to Oklahoma State in the semifinals of the conference tourney. The Jayhawks lost an unheard-of three of their final four games of the season.
Simien, who was a consensus first-team All-American, led the Jayhawks with a 20.3 points-per-game scoring average. Simien was the first player at Kansas under Self to average 20 points per game and remained the only one to do it until Mason did it (20.9) during the 2016-17 season.
13. 2013-14 • 25-10 • Lost 2nd Round to Stanford
The arrival of No. 1-ranked freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins brought with it visions of Beatlemania in Lawrence, as fans everywhere did whatever they could to get a look at Wiggins.
The alumni summer camp game in June was standing room only and peopled stood five or six deep in the doorways just to watch a few possessions.
Wiggins was far from the only player on this roster who came to Kansas with serious buzz. Wayne Selden Jr., was another top 10 prospect and Joel Embiid wound up being the No. 3 pick in the NBA draft after the season.
The freshman class also included a guard named Frank Mason III, who played limited minutes on this team but became one of the best guards to ever play for Self by the time he was done.
Despite the loaded lineup, the Jayhawks didn’t get out of the second round at the NCAA Tournament, falling to Stanford in St. Louis, with Embiid in street clothes because of injury.
This team did win the Big 12 at 14-4, but it also finished 25-10 overall and became the first KU team under Self to have double-digit losses.
14. 2008-09 • 27-8 • Reached Sweet 16
A year after six Jayhawks from the national title team were drafted into the NBA, junior guard Sherron Collins and sophomore big man Cole Aldrich were the only two returners with any kind of experience.
And the two quickly turned into Batman and Robin to keep the Jayhawks in the national spotlight.
Collins led the team with an 18.9 points-per-game average and also led by example, with his toughness, fearlessness and competitive spirit becoming contagious.
Aldrich, who had flashed his potential in shutting down North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough in the 2008 Final Four, showed that he was capable of much more, averaging 14.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game.
Freshmen Tyshawn Taylor (9.7 ppg) and Marcus Morris (7.4 ppg) also laid the foundation for their careers as role players, and the Jayhawks reached the Sweet 16 and nearly knocked off No. 1 seed Michigan State while there.
KU once again won the conference, finishing 14-2 in Big 12 play, and closed the unexpectedly solid season with a 27-8 record.
15. 2005-06 • 25-8 • Lost 1st Round to Bradley
This beginning of Self’s third season was unlike any other in the previous 25 seasons, as the Jayhawks opened with a 1-2 record and took seventh place at the Maui Invitational.
In fact, KU, which was led by a core group of freshmen that would go on to become national champions a couple of years later, did not even crawl above .500 until Dec. 10.
Still, led by Brandon Rush (13.5 ppg) and Mario Chalmers (11.5), the Jayhawks got things going in the right direction and managed to win 25 games and tie for first in the Big 12 Conference.
In addition to rumbling to a 13-3 record in Big 12 play, KU also won the Big 12 Tournament before losing to Bradley in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
That loss marked the second consecutive first-round exit for Self, but also was the beginning of a stretch that included KU reaching at least the Sweet 16 in six of the next seven seasons.
Much of the groundwork for that run and for the completion of the culture shift from Roy Williams to Self was laid by this team.
16. 2014-15 • 27-9 • Lost 2nd Round to Wichita State
A young KU team with no seniors in its rotation and only two juniors — Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor — the Jayhawks still managed to win the Big 12 outright and secure a No. 2 seed in the Big Dance.
Perhaps the fact that KU lost three of its last six regular-season games, and dropped another in the Big 12 title game to Iowa State — making Kansas 5-4 in its nine most recent games entering the NCAA Tournament — should have warned many that this March run wouldn’t last long.
After handling No. 15 seed New Mexico State in the first round, the Jayhawks had a Sunflower State struggle in Omaha, Neb., versus No. 7 seed Wichita State. KU freshman Kelly Oubre Jr. didn’t have any answers for the Shockers, and the killer WSU duo of Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker helped send the Jayhawks back to Lawrence.
17. 2018-19 • 26-10 • Lost 2nd Round to Auburn
Off-the-court issues plagued the KU roster throughout a forgettable 2018-19 season.
KU withheld forward Silvio De Sousa from competition while awaiting the NCAA’s decision on his eligibility, and by early February the backup big man was officially out for the year.
That blow came roughly a month after Udoka Azubuike suffered a season-ending injury one game into Big 12 play.
Amid all of that, senior guard Lagerald Vick left the team for good less than a week into February.
KU’s Big 12 title streak finally came to an end as the Jayhawks finished third.
As a No. 4 seed sent out to Salt Lake City, KU beat Northeastern before Auburn boatraced the Jayhawks en route to two wins in Kansas City, Mo., and a Final Four berth.