KU's NCAA tourney success, failure tied to title game in 14 of past 30 seasons
While watching Villanova celebrate and cut down the nets after Monday night’s thrilling victory over North Carolina in the national title game, a topic popped up on Twitter that I felt was worth looking into a little deeper.
Seeing how Kansas was knocked out of this year’s tourney by the Wildcats, I and dozens of other people in the Twitterverse began wondering how many times that had happened to KU in the past.
The answer? Quite a lot. In fact, since 1991, KU’s tournament fate has been tied to teams playing for the national title on the last Monday of the college basketball season nearly half the time.
Breaking it down further, KU has lost to the eventual national champion 7 times since 1991. What’s more, KU has lost to the eventual runner-up 5 more times in that same stretch. And, of course, the Jayhawks themselves have been the national runner-up 3 times in that span (1991, 2003 and 2012) and, of course, won one national title themselves (2008).
Take it back a few years farther and you can add another national title (1988) and another loss to the eventual runner-up (Duke in 1986).
I know a lot has been made about KU’s early exits, both under Roy Williams and Bill Self, and these facts certainly don’t eliminate those losses. But it sure seems like the following list proves, in yet another way, just how consistently strong Kansas basketball has been in the past 30 years.
Here’s a more detailed look:
1986 – KU loses to eventual runner-up Duke in national semifinals.
1988 – KU beats Oklahoma for the national championship.
1991 - KU loses to Duke in national title game.
1993 – KU loses to eventual national champion North Carolina in national semifinals.
1996 – KU loses to eventual runner-up Syracuse in Elite Eight.
1997 – KU loses to eventual champ Arizona in Sweet 16.
2002 – KU loses to eventual champ Maryland in national semifinals.
2003 – KU loses to Syracuse in national title game.
2004 – KU loses to eventual runner-up Georgia Tech in Elite Eight.
2008 – KU beats Memphis for the national championship.
2009 – KU loses to eventual runner-up Michigan State in Sweet 16.
2012 – KU loses to Kentucky in national title game.
2013 – KU loses to eventual runner-up Michigan in Sweet 16.
2016 – KU loses to eventual champ Villanova in Elite Eight.