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Andy Wittry | | April 6, 2022

Bill Self's 9 most accomplished teams at Kansas, ranked

Full game: Kansas wins 2008 National Championship in thrilling OT finish vs. Memphis

Kansas coach Bill Self, now a two-time national champion, has coached 19 seasons with the Jayhawks, spanning all or part of three different decades, and we ranked every single one of them.

To try to make the rankings as objective as possible and to avoid biases of recency or the eventual NBA careers of Kansas basketball alums, I created a point system to evaluate Kansas teams across the three decades of Self's tenure in Lawrence.

The maximum number of points was 475 โ€” 100 points for non-conference play, 100 points for the Big 12 regular season, 100 points for a team's Simple Rating System (SRS) rating that takes into account point differential and strength of schedule, 25 points for a team's Big 12 tournament finish, 50 points for a team's NCAA tournament seed, and 100 points for a team's NCAA tournament finish. Each Kansas team's non-conference and conference schedule were evaluated based on winning percentage in order to adjust for the different number of games played in different seasons.

You can click or tap here to view the complete spreadsheet of the calculations and rankings.

Kansas's 2020 team, which had its season shortened due to the cancellation of the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments, missed out on as many as 125 points, which is why it ranks lower than otherwise would.

Here are Bill Self's nine most accomplished teams at Kansas, ranked.

Mario Chalmers

1. 2007-08

Record: 37-3
Big 12 tournament finish: Won Big 12 tournament
NCAA tournament seed: No. 1 seed
NCAA tournament finish: Won NCAA tournament

Twenty years after "Danny and the Miracles" won the 1988 NCAA tournament, when senior forward Danny Manning carried an 11-loss Jayhawks team to the program's second title, Kansas won its third national championship in 2008 in coach Bill Self's fifth season in Lawrence. After the '07 Jayhawks, with their top five scorers being freshmen and sophomores, earned a No. 1 seed and made the Elite Eight, they returned seven of their top eight scorers for the 2007-08 season and that continuity paid off. Five players averaged between nine and 14 points per game in the 2008 season: Brandon Rush (13.3 points per game), Darrell Arthur (12.8), Mario Chalmers (12.8), Darnell Jackson (11.2) and Sherron Collins (9.3).

Kansas won its first 20 games of the season โ€” an impressive mark that was bested by Memphis winning its first 26 games that season โ€” and its only three regular-season losses came on the road, including a one-point loss at Oklahoma State and a defeat at three points at Texas, as the Jayhawks only spent one week ranked outside of the top five in the AP poll, when they briefly dropped to No. 6. However, despite their dominance, they never reached No. 1 in the AP poll and they spent just two weeks at No. 2.

Self's first season at Kansas was the 2003-04 campaign, but by year two of his tenure, the Jayhawks had won at least a share of the Big 12's regular season title and in 2008, they won at least a share of the conference title for the fourth year in a row, as part of an impressive streak that would ultimately reach 14. Kansas then won the Big 12 tournament, getting revenge against the Texas team that also went 13-3 in conference play and beat Kansas in the regular season, and on Selection Sunday, the Jayhawks were 31-3 and riding a seven-game winning streak.

After earning a No. 1 seed, Kansas marched through the first three rounds of the NCAA tournament, defeating No. 16 seed Portland State, No. 8 seed UNLV and No. 12 seed Villanova, each by at least 15 points. Then Kansas met No. 10 seed Davidson and an uber-talented, baby-faced guard named Stephen Curry. The Jayhawks moved on to the Final Four with a 59-57 win, with Curry taking 25 of the team's 57 shots and scoring 25 of Davidson's 57 points, as Kansas ended Davidson's Cinderella tournament run.

In the Final Four, where all four No. 1 seeds met for the first time in NCAA tournament history, Kansas steamrolled North Carolina, which had been ranked No. 1 in the AP poll for the first 11 weeks of the season, by a margin of 84-66. Then in the national final, Kansas met a Derrick Rose-led and John Calipari-coached Memphis team, which rallied from a five-point halftime deficit.

Memphis actually led 62-60 with 10.8 seconds left and Rose at the free throw line for two shots, having made his previous 13 attempts on the season. He missed the first and sank the second to put the Tigers up three. Kansas needed a 3-pointer to tie the game and the Jayhawks had only made two 3-pointers previously in the game. As Sherron Collins was falling, he flipped the ball to Mario Chalmers, he hit a contested 3-pointer over Rose to force overtime, where Kansas outscored Memphis 12-5, as the Jayhawks won the program's third national championship and Bill Self's first.

Darrell Arthur scored a team-high 20 points to go along with 10 rebounds, while Mario Chalmers added 18, none bigger than the overtime-forcing 3-pointer.

2. 2021-22

Record: 34-6
Big 12 tournament finish: Won Big 12 tournament
NCAA tournament seed: No. 1 seed
NCAA tournament finish: Won NCAA tournament

Two years after the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled, when Kansas was the presumptive No. 1 seed and riding a 16-game winning streak, the Jayhawks won the national championship, with several of the same players from the 2020 team โ€” the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, Ocha Agbaji, big man David McCormack and wing Christian Braun.

Kansas overcame a 15-point halftime deficit against No. 8 seed North Carolina in the national championship game, in part because of McCormack's positivity in the face of adversity. โ€œJust believe in yourself, have fun with it," he told his teammates. "Itโ€™s our last game, regardless.โ€

A 47-point second half brought Self his second national title โ€” an elusive one that puts him in an exclusive club.

3. 2010-11

Record: 35-3
Big 12 tournament finish: Won Big 12 tournament
NCAA tournament seed: No. 1 seed
NCAA tournament finish: Lost in the Elite Eight

The 2011 Jayhawks were headlined by twins Marcus and Markieff Morris, juniors who started in the team's frontcourt and who led the team with 17.2 points and 13.6 points per game, respectively. Kansas started the season 18-0 โ€” but Ohio State had the distinction of being that season's last undefeated team after a 24-0 start โ€“ and the Jayhawks later had an 11-game winning streak that started in mid-February and ran through the Big 12 tournament and into the Elite Eight. Kansas won those 11 games, including six in the postseason, by an average of 14 points.

Ultimately, upstart VCU, which started in the first-ever First Four as a No. 11 seed before marching to the Final Four, knocked off Kansas 71-61 in the Elite Eight in a massive upset that sent the Rams to the sport's final weekend. An early 15-2 run put VCU ahead 20-10 and the Rams led by 14 points at halftime, 41-27. Their largest lead was 18.ย 12 of 25 โ€” while Kansas could barely make a shot from behind the arc, going two for 21. The Jayhawks crashed the glass hard, grabbing 18 of their 40 missed shots, but they fell short of making the Final Four for the second time in Self's Kansas tenure.

MORE: We ranked Coach K's 11 best teams at Duke

4. 2015-16

Record: 33-5
Big 12 tournament finish: Won Big 12 tournament
NCAA tournament seed: No. 1 seed
NCAA tournament finish: Lost in the Elite Eight

Kansas' 2016 squad is tied for 25th in program history in winning percentage (.868) and 10 of the 24 Jayhawks teams that are ranked ahead of the '16 group played 20 or fewer games in the season, so this was one of the best Kansas teams of the modern era of the sport. After back-to-back seasons in which the program lost in the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament as a No. 2 seed, Kansas' 2016 team established itself as arguably the best team in the country, spending five weeks ranked No. 1 in the AP poll, including the final three polls of the regular season.

Led by forward Perry Ellis, a player who was then in his fourth and final season in Lawrence but who was often referred to as having spent many more seasons with the Jayhawks given the different groups of teammates with whom he played, Kansas was generally led by veterans, despite having some highly regarded freshmen on its roster, such as Cheick Diallo (3.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game) and Carlton Bragg (3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds per game).

Juniors Wayne Selden (13.8 points) and Frank Mason III (12.9 points), as well as sophomore Devonte' Graham (11.3 points), also averaged double figures in points per game, behind Ellis' team-high 16.9 points per game. In Sports Reference's Simple Rating System metric, which measures average point differential and strength of schedule, Kansas' 2016 team ranks 11th in school history and fifth among Self-coached teams.

After an 11-1 start to the season in which Kansas' only loss was by six to No. 13 Michigan State in the Champions Classic, the Jayhawks found themselves with a 5-3 mark in Big 12 play, after road losses to No. 11 West Virginia, Oklahoma State and No. 14 Iowa State. But they recovered and won 17 games in a row โ€” their final 11 of the regular season, including the back half of a season sweep of an Oklahoma team that was ranked in the top three in both meetings, plus Kansas won the Big 12 tournament and marched to the Elite Eight, where it ran into eventual national champion Villanova.

It would prove to be the first of two season-ending losses to Villanova in a three-year span.


5. 2011-12

Record: 32-7
Big 12 tournament finish: Lost semifinal
NCAA tournament seed: No. 2 seed
NCAA tournament finish: Lost national championship game

The 2012 Kansas Jayhawks played in the national championship game โ€” the second of Bill Self's career โ€” so what gives? Why are they ranked fifth?

There are nine Self-coached Kansas teams that had fewer losses than 2012 Kansas (seven), it ranks ninth in Simple Rating System, 11th in strength of schedule and 15th in non-conference winning percentage. Plus, that group only won one game in the Big 12 tournament and earned a No. 2 seed, whereas eight other of Bill Self's Kansas teams received a No. 1 seed.

The top seven scorers on that team were juniors or seniors, led by junior forward Thomas Robinson (17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game) and senior guard Tyshawn Taylor (16.6 points and 4.8 assists per game). Thanks in large pat to 7-foot center Jeff Withey, who averaged 3.6 blocks per game, the Jayhawks had the third-most efficient defense and 11th-tallest average player height in the county, per

In the national championship game, Anthony Davis-led Kentucky went on a 12-2 run in the first half to go ahead 39-21 and while Kansas made a bit of a late-game run, it never got closer than 63-57. Kansas' final lead in the game was 5-3.

6. 2006-07

Record: 33-5
Big 12 tournament finish: Won Big 12 tournament
NCAA tournament seed: No. 1 seed
NCAA tournament finish: Lost in the regional finals

The year before Self won his first national championship and Kansas' third, the Jayhawks had another very good team, one that won 33 games, the Big 12's regular-season and tournament titles and earned a No. 1 seed. They were ranked No. 3 in the preseason AP poll and finished the season at No. 2, and while there were some dips in the polls and rankings in the middle, Kansas was just as good as it was expected to be โ€” if not a little better.

The Jayhawks beat then-No. 1 and eventual repeat national champion Florida on a neutral floor in November amid a 16-2 start that grew to 27-4 by the end of the regular season. In the NCAA tournament, Kansas rolled No. 16 Niagara by 40 points, sent No. 8 seed Kentucky home with a 12-point loss before squeaking by No. 4 seed Southern Illinois by three points in the Sweet 16. No. 2 seed UCLA smacked Kansas by 13 in the Elite Eight, amid the Bruins' three consecutive Final Four runs.

7. 2017-18

Record: 31-8
Big 12 tournament finish: Won Big 12 tournament
NCAA tournament seed: No. 1 seed
NCAA tournament finish: Lost in the Final Four

One season after Kansas fell a game shy of the Final Four, the Jayhawks reached the sport's final weekend. Even though they had to replace Naismith Player of the Year Frank Mason III, seniors Devonte' Graham (17.3 points and 7.2 assists per game) and Svi Mykhailiuk (14.6 points) each made impressive improvements, as did junior LaGerald Vick (7.4 points to 12.1) and sophomore Udoka Azubuike (5.0 points to 13), and the addition of Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman added some more firepower to Kansas' backcourt.

In total, the team had five players who averaged more than 12 points per game (the five players mentioned above, four of whom averaged more than 31 minutes per game), as the top-heavy Jayhawks didn't have anyone else on their team who averaged more than 4.1 points per game. Kansas' offense was among the best in the country, as the Jayhawks shot 40.1 percent from 3 (10th nationally, per and 55.6 percent inside the arc (20th).

They started and ended the regular season ranked No. 4 in the AP poll, reaching as high as No. 2 for two weeks, but also spending five weeks outside the top 10 of the AP poll. For the 14th season in a row, Kansas won at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title, finishing with a 13-5 conference record that was two wins ahead of Texas Tech and West Virginia.

Kansas had two seven-game winning streaks, as well as two five-game winning streaks, and one of those in the former group came in March, when the Jayhawks followed up a loss in their regular-season finale with a Big 12 tournament title, with each win coming by at least 11 points, and then they won four games in the NCAA tournament to reach their first Final Four since 2012. Kansas won by a narrow margin in the second round (83-79 over No. 8 seed Seton Hall), Sweet 16 (80-76 over No. 5 seed Clemson) and in the Elite Eight (85-81 over No. 2 seed Duke in overtime).

Duke led 72-69 with roughly 1:25 left after Grayson Allen made a pair of free throws and at that time, Kansas had just a 9.7-percent chance of victory, per, but Kansas was able to get a defensive stop and Svi Mykhailiuk sank a game-tying 3-pointer with 27 seconds left and Allen missed a double-clutched, fade-away game-winner in the closing seconds that bounced off the rim twice, sending the game to overtime.

In overtime, Kansas' Malik Newman scored all 13 of the team's points in the extra period, including two 3-pointers and seven free throws, as he finished with a game-high 32 points on 8-for-19 shooting and 11-for-12 free throw shooting.

In the Final Four, Kansas ran into the juggernaut that was 2018 Villanova, which won six NCAA tournament games by an average of 17.7 points and each game by at least 12 points. The Wildcats bombed the Jayhawks from deep, attempting 40 3-pointers compared to just 25 shots inside the arc, and Villanova made 45 percent of its attempts from deep, as six Villanova players scored in double figures. Villanova point guard Jalen Brunson was the Naismith Player of the Year that season and against Kansas, six of his teammates made a 3-pointer before Brunson made his first 3.

8. 2009-10

Record: 33-3
Big 12 tournament finish: Won Big 12 tournament
NCAA tournament seed: No. 1 seed
NCAA tournament finish: Lost in the second round

Based on winning percentage, this Kansas team ranks among the top 10 in school history, as it joins a number of Jayhawks teams from long ago when they played fewer than 20 games in a season. But the 2010 Jayhawks met an early, unfortunate end at the hands of Ali Farokhmanesh and Northern Iowa.

That Kansas team had eight future NBA players on its roster, including each of its top six scorers โ€” Sherron Collins, Xavier Henry, Marcus Morris, Cole Aldrich, Tyshawn Taylor and Markieff Morris. The 2010 Jayhawks featured a mix of a handful of players who either were members of Kansas' 2008 national title team, or players who would grow to become contributors to the Jayhawks' 2012 national runner-up squad.

9. 2016-17

Record: 31-5
Big 12 tournament finish: Lost in the quarterfinals
NCAA tournament seed: No. 1 seed
NCAA tournament finish: Lost in the Elite Eight

Kansas' freshman class in 2013 featured future NBA All-Stars in Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins, another consensus top-20 recruit in Wayne Selden, and two other top-50 players in Brannen Greene and Conner Frankamp. Then there was 5-11 guard Frank Mason III, who wasn't nearly as heralded as many of his classmates, but it was Mason who blossomed into the Naismith Player of the Year as a senior, when he averaged 20.9 points, 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game for a Kansas team that was ranked No. 1 in the country when the calendar turned to March.

The Jayhawks opened the season with an overtime loss to Indiana, which was followed by a win over then-No. 1 Duke in the Champions Classic, and Kansas won 17 games in a row after that to reach 18-1 in late January. Later, in a five-day span, Kansas beat No. 4 Kentucky on the road and No. 2 Baylor at home, and the Jayhawks ultimately ran away with the Big 12 regular season title by four games. One of their two regular-season losses came at West Virginia, never an easy place to play when the Mountaineers are rolling, and the other defeat was against Iowa State in overtime.

Surprisingly, Kansas lost its first Big 12 tournament game to a TCU team that it had swept in the regular season, but that didn't stop Kansas from earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, where it blitzed No. 16 seed UC Davis, No. 9 seed Michigan State and No. 4 seed Purdue by a combined 90 points.

In the Elite Eight, Kansas met No. 3 seed Oregon, which blocked 2-point shots more often than any team in the country that season (17 percent of the time, per, and the Ducks' Jordan Bell swatted eight of the Jayhawks' shots, while Oregon made 56 percent of its 2-point attempts and 44 percent of its 3-point attempts. Mason had 21 points on 20 shots, talented freshman forward Josh Jackson had 10 points on eight attempts, and Mason's backcourt running mate Devonte' Graham managed just three points on 0-for-7 shooting, as the Jayhawks' best offensive players were held in check by the Ducks.

To see Self's Kansas teams that are ranked No. 10 through No. 19, click or tap here to view the complete spreadsheet.

Click here view the March Madness playlist on YouTube of memorable Kansas men's basketball full-game replays, highlights and moments from the NCAA tournament.

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