Conference title streaks. A compare and contrast
I was thinking I might do a little basketball education for my benefit and for anyone who might read this that isnt up to date with the history of the two programs. Im doing this to compare KU’s current run of conference titles to UCLA’s back in the old times.
We all know that UCLA had 13 straight conference crowns and that KU has broken that streak with #14 this year. UCLA had the legendary, late, great coach John Wooden for 10 of those crowns. KU has had coach Self for every one of our 14 and counting.
UCLA had players like Bill Walton and Kareem during that time frame. Obviously this was waaaay before the OAD era. Both those guys stayed all four years! Freshmen still werent able to play in games back then.
KU has had none of that dominant future NBA all star type talent on on their roster…except Joel Embiid and he only stayed one year in this OAD era.
Another intersting bit of information about Coach Wooden that I found on Wikipedia. " Wooden coached his final game in Pauley Pavilion on March 1, 1975, when UCLA trounced Stanford 93–59. Four weeks later, following a 75–74 overtime victory over Louisville in the 1975 NCAA Tournament semifinal game, Wooden announced that he would retire at age 64 immediately after the championship game."
Regarding the Pac 8 conference vs the Big 12 conference. I think it is necessary to keep KU’s streak of 14 straight in perspective when taken into consideration with the elite talent around the other teams of the Big 12 conference vs the sheer dominance of UCLA from '67 to '79.
KU on the other hand has had to play and win against far greater adversity imo with players on opposing teams like DeAndre Jordan, Lamarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Michael Beasley, Kevin Durant.
My belief is that Coach Self has had a much tougher time navigating the Big 12 conference juggernaut than Coach Wooden had to deal with 40+ years ago in the Pac 8.
I think that which ever selection committee is involved in giving the Coach of the Year award next month should absolutely, without a doubt give it to Coach Self!
Coach Wooden won that same award multiple times in a row for facing far inferior competition.
I totally agree. Our current conf streak is a standout stat in all college sports, and may never be tooped by anyone else at least in D1
Small correction. Wooden was responsible for 9 of the 13 titles in the Pacific 8 Conference, Bartow had 2 and Cunningham also 2, one in the Pacific 8 and one in the Pacific 10 Conference.
@JayHawkFanToo I believe the first 2 for Wooden was in the AAWU a precurser to the PAC-8.
It’s interesting to read this post and come home this evening and turn on the TV and see UCLA struggling to beat St. Bonaventure in the play in game. It would be a very sad day in Jayhawk Nation the day we’re in the play in game.
You are correct.
@JayHawkFanToo I love being correct, but my wife would never believe that I was.
@wissox Exactly! As disappointed as I am when/if we lose our last game, I wouldn’t trade our consistent greatness for ANYTHING!
@Lulufulu Excellent thread. You are right on point. Look at the UConn Huskies women’s team. That was UCLA. UCLA as in the era of no OADs. No guys leaving early. Our streak of conference titles is much more impressive. – taking a new mix of players nearly every year, or close to that, and winning. With no slip ups. Amazing.
@Jayhawk-in-OKC Ok … you don’t really mean you wouldn’t trade it for anything, right?
How about this – KU wins the national title in 2004, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2016. However, instead of 15 conference titles in a row, we win 6 of them. And we miss the tourney altogether in 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2018, win sub-500 records in two of those seasons.
Trade? And remember, we’re still Kansas. Still the same old school we know and love.
@JayHawkFanToo I love being correct, but my wife would never believe that I was.
I will be happy to vouch for you.
@HighEliteMajor But then we would just be so bored…with nothing to talk about year after repetitive year. Our adrenaline would stop flowing, and our ability to rationalize and make excuses would wither away. No triumphant feeling, no sense of overcoming adversity, no off-seasons consumed by "what if"s. Just a long stretch of being on top. The dips? Just like a stock market correction. We would know it will go away, and we will be dumping everyone again soon.
Oh, the agony!
Actually, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.
The 14 Conference title streak, likely to become 15 game streak, will not be broken unless basketball as we know it changes dramatically.
As comparison, the team with the second longest streak, Villanova at 6 did not win the title this year and they are back to square 1. The only team that i could see making a run is Gonzaga because they play in a very weak conference with maybe one half way decent rival every year and they truly dominate; even Gonzaga got only to11 before it lost.
@HighEliteMajor I seriously got giddy reading that number of national championships in that timeframe. Yes, that hypothetical has to be a no brainer…right?
In a double elimination tournament, KU does not win in '88 but likely has 4 or more titles in years when one bad game doomed otherwise superior teams.
Set the offense free, Bill. We can win a championship this year- just set it free.
@MoonwalkMafia You would think …
@JayHawkFanToo I don’t know why you would think teams that got exposed for one reason or other would survive a double elimination tourney — other teams would have the same benefit. And we got exposed for a reason. Heck, there were three other stud teams in 2008. We might not win that. The only year I think we were clearly the best team is 1997. In other years, other very good teams got knocked off too.
This is how champions are made. How about we just find a way to do it?
Let’s take the last 15 years (2003 - 2017) and try to figure out how a double elimination tournament would have shaken out.
First, a list of the #1 seeds and the eventual champion, just to set the stage.
To make this a bit easier, let’s say that every time a 1 seed won the title eventually, they would still win, so the champions from 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013*, 2015, and 2017 all stay the same.
So let’s look at the other years:
2003 - Syracuse
2004 - UConn
2006 - Florida
2011 - UConn
2014 - UConn
2016 - Villanova
In 2003, the best three teams in the country were Arizona, Kentucky and Texas. Arizona had Jason Gardner (All American), plus three future NBA players in Andre Iguodala, Luke Walton and Channing Frye, and another stud in Salim Stoudemire. That team was loaded. KU took them down in the regional final, but I don’t know that KU can get them twice because Arizona may well have been the best team in the country. Either that, or Kentucky was. UK had more of a great college team with Chuck Hayes and Keith Bogans leading the way, but they were very good. Texas had TJ Ford (player of the year), plus Brian Boddicker and Royal Ivey (future NBA player). If it’s me, I say Arizona wins a double elimination tournament. They were just so talented. If they get another crack at KU (we beat them by just three), I don’t know that we get it done.
2004, UConn was a very good team (2 seed). St. Joseph’s and Stanford both went through most of the season undefeated, but the best team was almost certainly Duke. JJ Redick, Luol Deng, Daniel Ewing, and Chris Duhon formed an elite collegiate perimeter attack, with Sheldon Williams in the middle. Duke blew a 7 point lead in the national semifinal against UConn and lost by one. Given a second chance, it’s likely Duke lifts the trophy.
2006, we know now that the eventual champion Gators were loaded, but we didn’t know it at the time. However, the scariest team was probably either UConn or Duke. Duke lost to LSU. UConn lost to George Mason. Duke had the transcendent JJ Redick year (he averaged over 26 points a game) along with Sheldon Williams (almost 19 from him). UConn was lead by Rudy Gay. No way George Mason beats them twice. The title game is probably Duke - UConn in double elimination format. Flip a coin on who wins that one.
2011, the best team was KU, trailed by Ohio State. KU had the Morris twins, Tyshawn Taylor, and TRob. Ohio State was led by Jared Sullinger. There’s a reason both of these teams were in the Final Four the very next season. If things are double elimination, KU and Ohio State play for the title in 2011, rather than the national semifinal in 2012, with KU likely winning that game as well.
2014, the best team was Arizona. Aaron Gordon, TJ McConnell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, etc. They got edged by a very good Wisconsin team in the regional final, but I don’t know that anybody could have beaten them again. They were so, so talented. Florida had a nice team that might have snuck in if Arizona stumbled. That Wisconsin squad was also good enough to make noise, but ultimately, Arizona is the likely champ.
2016, the best teams were Kansas and North Carolina. North Carolina very nearly won the title anyway, so we know what they could have done. KU lost the regional final, but had a stacked team with Ellis, Selden, Mason, etc. UNC is probably better, but I don’t know if Roy Williams could have gotten focused for a title matchup with KU. Flip a coin on this one.
So the final title breakdown would be as follows:
2003 - Arizona, or maybe Kentucky
2004 - Duke, or possibly UConn or Stanford
2006 - Duke or UConn
2011 - Kansas, maybe Ohio State
2014 - Arizona, maybe Florida or Wisconsin
2016 - North Carolina or Kansas
Duke probably adds two titles to the five they already have (doesn’t cost them any titles). Arizona might have two more. KU adds at least one.
However, since I didn’t look at any of the years where a 1 seed did win, there’s no guarantee that a different top seed doesn’t win the title. Illinois was great in 2005. Ohio State and UNC were both tremendous UNC was pretty stacked in 2008, as was Memphis. UConn had a great squad in 2009. Kentucky probably had the best team in both 2010 and 2015. KU might have had a shot in 2013 or 2017.
On the other hand, maybe KU can beat Arizona twice, and they could knock off Syracuse in a second meeting. Maybe Florida does make that run in 2006 (they had the talent). Kentucky has had some talented squads the last several years. Double elimination probably gives Calipari three or four titles instead of just one.
@justanotherfan Good breakdown. I would add KU in 2007 as another possible title along with 2010 and 2013. All three of those teams were much better than they performed in the tournament, such as the epic meltdown at the end of the Michigan game and playing asleep during UNI.