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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | April 6, 2022

Where Kansas' 2022 team ranks among the greatest men's basketball champions ever

Kansas wins its second national title under Bill Self

On the Monday night of April 4, 2022, Kansas won its fourth men's basketball national championship, tying UConn for sixth all-time. Kansas was a No. 1 seed and it swept the Big 12's regular-season and conference tournament titles, so it was clearly one of the best teams in the country this season, but where do the 2022 Jayhawks rank among all of the sport's national champions?

Using a variety of metrics to help contextualize Kansas' latest national championship team, here's how the Jayhawks compare to other national champions.

Total margin of victory in the NCAA tournament

Kansas' 2022 NCAA tournament run was a mix of blowouts — 27 points against No. 16 seed Texas Southern, 26 points against No. 10 seed Miami and 16 points against No. 2 seed Villanova — and narrow victories — three points against No. 8 seed North Carolina, five points against No. 4 seed Providence and seven points against No. 9 seed Creighton.

The Jayhawks didn't win a single game by between eight and 15 points.

So, add all that up (a combined margin of victory of 84 points), and where does that rank among past national champions since the tournament expanded to 64 teams?

Exactly at the 50th percentile, it turns out. Duke's 1991 championship team and the victorious Maryland Terrapins of 2002 also had a combined margin of victory of 84 points, which is tied for 17th among the 37 national champions examined.

Below are the combined margins of victory for every national champion since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985:

1. Kentucky (1996): 129 points
2. Villanova (2016): 124 points
3. North Carolina (2009): 121 points
4. UNLV (1990): 112 points
5. Villanova (2018): 106 points
6. Duke (2001): 100 points
7. Louisville (2013)*: 97 points
8. Florida (2006): 96 points
9. North Carolina (1993): 94 points
10. Duke (2015): 93 points
T11. Michigan State (2000), Baylor (2021): 92 points
13. Duke (2010): 87 points
14. UCLA (1995): 86 points
T15. Florida (2007), Kansas (2008): 85 points
T17. Duke (1991), Maryland (2002), Kansas (2022): 84 points
20. North Carolina (2005): 83 points
T21. Kentucky (1998), UConn (2004): 80 points
23. Duke (1992): 75 points
T24. Louisville (1986), UConn (1999), Kentucky (2012): 71 points
T27. Arkansas (1994), North Carolina (2017): 67 points
29. Indiana (1987): 63 points
30. UConn (2011): 62 points
31. Michigan (1989): 59 points
32. Syracuse (2003): 54 points
33. Kansas (1988): 53 points
34. UConn (2014): 47 points
35. Virginia (2019): 45 points
36. Arizona (1997): 32 points
37. Villanova (1985): 30 points
*Louisville's championship was later vacated by the Committee on Infractions

Winning percentage

While admittedly simplistic, winning percentage is a basic way to measure just how good a team was in a given season, especially when comparing teams across eras. During that height of UCLA's run under John Wooden, the Bruins often played exactly 30 games, whereas many national champions today play 40 games.

The 2022 Kansas Jayhawks rank in the bottom 23rd percentile in terms of winning percentage among past national champions. However, 12 of the other 36 national champions that won the NCAA tournament since its field expanded to 64 teams had a worse winning percentage in their title-winning season. The combination of gradual NCAA tournament expansion — it now takes six wins in the NCAA tournament to win a championship, or seven if you're starting in the First Four, compared to the three it took in 1939 — and greater competitive balance across the sport have given us more than 45 years without an undefeated national champion, for example.

The best winning percentage by a national champion since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams was Kentucky's 2012 team, which went 38-2, good for a .950 winning percentage.

T1. San Francisco (1956), North Carolina (1957), UCLA (1964), UCLA (1967), UCLA (1972), UCLA (1973), Indiana (1976): 1.000
8. NC State (1974): .968
T9. UCLA (1968), UCLA (1969), UCLA (1971): .967
T12. San Francisco (1955), UTEP (1966): .966
14. Kentucky (2012): .950
T15. Duke (1992), Kentucky (1996), UConn (1999): .944
T18. Kentucky (1949), Kentucky (1951), North Carolina (1982): .941
T21. Wyoming (1943), Oklahoma State (1946), UCLA (1995): .939
24. Kentucky (1978): .938
T25. Cincinnati (1962), Loyola Chicago (1963): .935
T27. UCLA (1965), UCLA (1970), Baylor (2021): .933
30. Kansas (2008): .925
31. Kentucky (1948): .923
32. Virginia (2019): .921
33. Georgetown (1984): .919
34. Louisville (1980): .917
35. Arkansas (1994): .912
T36. Kansas (1952), UCLA (1975): .903
T38. Holy Cross (1947), Cincinnati (1961), Villanova (2018): .900
T41. Kentucky (1998), Duke (2001), Duke (2015): .897
T44. North Carolina (1993), North Carolina (2009): .895
46. Ohio State (1960): .893
47. North Carolina (2005): .892
48. Maryland (2002): .889
49. Indiana (1953): .885
50. Indiana (1987): .882
T51. Stanford (1942), UNLV (1990), Florida (2007), Duke (2010), Louisville (2013)*, Villanova (2016): .875
57. Oklahoma State (1945): .871
T58. Indiana (1940), Wisconsin (1941): .870
60. La Salle (1954): .867
61. California (1959): .862
62. Syracuse (2003): .857
63. Oregon (1939): .853
64. Kansas (2022): .850
T65. Utah (1944), UConn (2004), Florida (2006): .846
68. CCNY (1950): .828
69. North Carolina (2017): .825
T70. Louisville (1986), Duke (1991), Michigan State (2000): .821
73. Michigan State (1979): .813
74. Michigan (1989): .811
75. UConn (2014): .800
76. Kentucky (1958): .793
77. Marquette  (1977): .781
78. UConn (2011): .780
79. Indiana (1981): .743
80. Arizona (1997): .735
81. NC State (1983): .722
82. Villanova (1985): .714
83. Kansas (1988): .711
*Louisville's championship was later vacated by the Committee on Infractions

Advanced metrics

While many popular advanced metrics, such as those of kenpom.com and barttorvik.com, didn't exist when many national champions were crowned, Sports Reference's Simple Rating System, which "takes into account average point differential and strength of schedule" dates back more than 70 years.

However, each season is its own universe and there's no connectivity between seasons since a team from 2022 didn't play any teams from the 2021 season, which didn't play any teams from 2020, etc. On a small scale, we saw this principle in the NET rankings in the 2021 season, when Colgate was a top-10 team in that metric after having gone 14-1 prior to Selection Sunday against a schedule that only featured Patriot League opponents. Colgate lacked connectivity to the rest of the country because it didn't play a non-conference schedule.

So, keep that in mind when looking at the numbers below. Each team's rating is only relative to opponents from the same season, but from a 30,000-foot view, it's still probably safe to say that a team with an SRS rating of 32 was likely better than one with a rating of 17.

Simple Rating System (SRS)

Sports Reference has the SRS rating for every men's basketball national champion starting in the 1950 season.

  1. UCLA (1972): 33.79
  2. UCLA (1968): 32.56
  3. Duke (2001): 32.18
  4. Kentucky (1996): 32.14
  5. UCLA (1967): 29.39
  6. North Carolina (1993): 29.04
  7. North Carolina (2005): 28.42
  8. UCLA (1973): 27.98
  9. Michigan (1989): 27.63
  10. Kansas (2008): 26.89
  11. UCLA (1969): 26.69
  12. Villanova (2018): 26.64
  13. Indiana (1976): 26.53
  14. Ohio State (1960): 25.88
  15. Virginia (2019): 25.46
  16. North Carolina (2009): 25.45
  17. Duke (2010): 25.21
  18. NC State (1974): 25.05
  19. Michigan State (2000): 25.04
  20. UCLA (1970): 25.02
  21. Duke (2015): 24.97
  22. Duke (1991): 24.90
  23. North Carolina (2017): 24.84
  24. Baylor (2021): 24.83
  25. Louisville (2013)*: 24.81
  26. UConn (1999): 24.74
  27. Kentucky (2012): 24.73
  28. Duke (1992): 24.68
  29. UNLV (1990): 24.45
  30. Villanova (2016): 24.08
  31. Arkansas (1994): 23.88
  32. Florida (2007): 23.82
  33. UCLA (1995): 23.74
  34. Maryland (2002): 23.50
  35. Kentucky (1998): 22.95
  36. Cincinnati (1962): 22.85
  37. UConn (2004): 22.64
  38. Michigan State (1979): 22.53
  39. UCLA (1964): 22.51
  40. Kansas (2022): 22.28
  41. Kentucky (1951): 22.24
  42. Arizona (1997): 21.60
  43. Loyola Chicago (1963): 21.43
  44. UCLA (1965): 21.33
  45. Indiana (1981): 21.18
  46. Kentucky (1978): 21.11
  47. UCLA (1975): 21.07
  48. San Francisco (1955): 21.00
  49. UCLA (1971): 20.91
  50. Indiana (1987): 20.69
  51. Louisville (1986): 20.64
  52. Florida (2006): 20.21
  53. North Carolina (1982): 20.17
  54. Indiana (1953): 19.98
  55. Syracuse (2003): 19.02
  56. Cincinnati (1961): 18.80
  57. Georgetown (1984): 18.75
  58. San Francisco (1956): 18.03
  59. UConn (2011): 17.95
  60. UConn (2014): 17.23
  61. Marquette (1977): 16.67
  62. Kentucky (1958): 15.95
  63. Kansas (1952): 15.83
  64. Kansas (1988): 15.71
  65. Louisville (1980): 15.57
  66. NC State (1983): 15.22
  67. California (1959): 14.77
  68. CCNY (1950): 14.67
  69. La Salle (1954): 14.72
  70. North Carolina (1957): 14.70
  71. UTEP (1966): 13.86
  72. Villanova (1985): 12.03

*Louisville's championship was later vacated by the Committee on Infractions

KenPom.com

One of the most popular men's basketball advanced analytics websites is Ken Pomeroy's website kenpom.com, which provides tempo-free efficiency numbers that adjust for the quality of opponent and the pace of play. Pomeroy offers adjusted efficiency margin statistics, which indicate how many points a team would be expected to outscore an average opponent on a neutral floor per 100 possessions. For reference, there were roughly 67 possessions per game this season, according to KenPom, so multiply a team's adjusted efficiency margin by 0.67 and you'll get its expected margin of victory against an average opponent on a neutral floor.

Pomeroy's database dates back to the 2001-02 season.

  1. Kansas (2008): +35.21
  2. Virginia (2019): +34.22
  3. Baylor (2021): +33.87
  4. Villanova (2018): +33.76
  5. Duke (2010): +33.29
  6. Louisville (2013)*: +32.92
  7. North Carolina (2005): +32.77
  8. Kentucky (2012): +32.59
  9. Duke (2015): +32.48
  10. Villanova (2016): +32.01
  11. North Carolina (2009): +31.14
  12. Florida (2007): +30.81
  13. Maryland (2002): +29.25
  14. UConn (2004): +28.30
  15. Florida (2006): +28.28
  16. North Carolina (2017): +28.22
  17. Kansas (2022): +27.49
  18. UConn (2011): +23.93
  19. Syracuse (2003): +23.28
  20. UConn (2014): +22.13
    *Louisville's championship was later vacated by the Committee on Infractions

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