San Antonio — Selection Sunday boils with conspiracy theories each year, the masses convinced that the selection committee purposely pairs teams in order to enable rich storylines.
It’s not difficult to find compelling connections between schools for nearly any game played in the tournament.
From most recent to most distant, consider a few Kansas connections to the other three schools participating in the Final Four.
Villanova 64, Kansas 59, March 27, 2016: Villanova went on to win the national title, eliminating Kansas in the Elite Eight, Oklahoma in the Final Four and North Carolina in the title game.
Five players from that game are still with the teams that will clash Saturday night in a national semifinal and all five are starters: Juniors Phil Booth, Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson for Villanova and seniors Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk of KU.
Graham made 5 of 9 3-pointers, scoring a game-high 17 points and logging seven rebounds. Svi was scoreless in seven minutes, missing his only shot, a 3-pointer.
Brunson played 22 minutes for Villanova, scored seven points and did not have an assist. Booth went scoreless in 12 minutes. Bridges had the biggest impact of the freshmen. He made several big plays down the stretch and totaled six points, three rebounds and five steals off the bench.
Michigan 87, Kansas 85, overtime, March 29, 2013: KU point guard Elijah Johnson, who went the entire game without an assist, made three turnovers in a four-possession stretch, which enabled the Wolverines to erase a 10-point lead in the final 2:18 of regulation.
Johnson had a chance to send the game into a second overtime when he blew past his man and could have taken it all the way to the hoop for the tying points. Instead, he veered away from the basket at the last instant and fired a pass to Naadir Tharpe way beyond the 3-point line. Tharpe’s running 3-point attempt, a very difficult shot, missed and Kansas lost by two points.
It was Johnson’s second-nuttiest decision, the first coming early in the game when he tagged an opponent below the belt for a flagrant foul that limited his first-half playing time to three minutes.
“That’s not how we play,” Self said afterward. “And that was not smart at all.”
It was a bizarre way to exit the tournament, given that Self’s teams usually play clutch, smart basketball.
Sheahon Zenger fires Porter Moser at Illinois State, March 5, 2007: Hired a few years before Zenger took the AD job at Illinois State, Moser inherited a program that had just suffered through a 5-21 season. He posted records of 10-19, 17-13, 9-19 and 15-16 and was fired by Zenger.
Tim Jankovich left Kansas to take the job and inherited a roster that was the 27th-most experienced in the nation and had a talented sophomore class recruited by Moser.
Jankovich posted records of 25-10, 24-10, 22-11, 12-19 and 21-14, before leaving to work for Larry Brown at SMU, where Jankovich now heads the program.
Asked by the Journal-World at the Midwest Regional if he was happy for Moser, Zenger said: “Absolutely. It’s an exciting time. It’s a great story.”