The last time Kansas didn’t win at least a share of the Big XII regular-season title, it was 2004. George W. Bush was nearing the end of his first term. The Passion of the Christ was the No. 1 movie at the box office. One thing that wasn’t different: Bill Self was still the head coach, as he entered his first year succeeding Roy Williams.
Flash forward to 2019, and the streak of conference titles is close to ending. The Jayhawks trail Texas Tech by a full game, and rival Kansas State by a half-one. An injury to star center Udoka Azubuike and a leave of absence by off-guard Lagerald Vick crippled another promising Kansas campaign.
Despite the personnel losses, Self and company still own a 22-7 record, as well as an 11-5 mark in Big XII play. The conference is ranked No. 2 nationally per Ken Pomeroy.
The Jayhawks enter tonight’s contest at Oklahoma (9 p.m. EST, ESPN2) looking to build a case for as high of a seed as possible. Let’s take a look at the latest on their bracketology outlook, along with their resume and a few key wins and losses that stand out.
Kansas NCAA Tournament Resume
Kansas jumped out to a sterling 10-0 record in the non-conference. That included wins that have aged very well, including the opener over No. 9 Michigan State, an overtime squeaker over No. 5 Tennessee and a blowout over No. 22 Wofford.
Throw in single-digit victories over Big East foes in No. 16 Marquette and defending national champion Villanova, and it’s as impressive a non-conference portfolio imaginable. The only blemishes came at home to Arizona State and at No. 6 Kentucky.
With Azubuike and Vick leaving during conference play, a few losses have piled up. The worst was a 1-point loss at West Virginia, who’s 11-18 and ranks No. 116 in the NET. While the Jayhawks split against presumptive conference champion Texas Tech, a 29-point loss on Feb. 23 will hurt them in head-to-head consideration by the selection committee.
Kansas Bracketology Breakdown
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi bestows Kansas with a No. 3 seed in the West Regional in his latest Bracketology. This would send the Jayhawks to the Salt Lake City pod for an opening round matchup with UC Irvine. If they avoid the upset, they would get the winner of Villanova-Utah State.
Before their meeting earlier in the year, the Jayhawks and Wildcats met in last year’s Final Four, with Jay Wright’s crew blitzing Self’s with 13 first-half triples in a 95-79 victory.
Jerry Palm of CBS Sports pegs them with a No. 4 seed out of the East. If they take care of business against projected No. 13 seed Yale, Kansas would face the winner of Nevada vs. Lipscomb in Salt Lake.
Bracket Matrix aggregates 110 prognostications from across the internet. Kansas averages out to a 3.26, which puts them as a 3-seed, with a smattering of brackets calling for a 4.
This week provides a good opportunity to bolster the win-loss record. A road trip against a desperate Sooners team will challenge. A win there and this weekend over Baylor would have the Jayhawks enter the Big XII Tournament next week in Kansas City with a 24-7 record.
A sweep there in one of the nation’s toughest conference could sneak them into a No. 2 seed.