Kansas and Self advance to another regional final

Kansas coach Bill Self after Thursday’s 98-66 romp over Purdue.

March 23, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas coach Bill Self is one of this year’s 14 finalists for induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Voters don’t tend to nominate or induct coaches who can’t coach. Yet seemingly every March, Self suffers the slings and arrows of sarcastic soothsayers.

“Don’t pick Kansas in your bracket,” sayeth the naysayers. “KU won’t make it past the first weekend. No one chokes in March quite like Kansas.”

With Thursday night’s 98-66 dismantling of No. 4-seeded Purdue at the Sprint Center, the Jayhawks will face Oregon in the Midwest Regional Final at 7:49 p.m. on Saturday to advance to the Final Four next weekend in Glendale, Ariz.

This will be Self’s ninth regional final of the millennium.

He coached mid-major Tulsa to the 2000 South Regional final.

He coached Illinois to the 2001 Midwest Regional final during his first season with the Fighting Illini.

Come Saturday, Self will coach his seventh regional final with Kansas.

If the No. 1-seeded Jayhawks (31-4) beat the No. 3-seeded Ducks (32-5), Self will advance to his third Final Four since 2008 and will up his career record to 3-6 in regional finals.

If KU stumbles against Oregon, Self will slip to 2-7 in regional finals … and there’s the rub. Regional finals have been Self’s tournament albatross.

Self has said no NCAA Tournament loss hurts as much as losing a regional final. Get to the Final Four and a lost weekend is still capable of providing a healthy dose of pride, but there’s no consolation in losing a regional final.

Since 2007, Self has collected seven No. 1 tournament seeds. Evidently some folk are under the impression that should equate to seven Final Fours and/or seven national titles.

While being a No. 1 seed greatly improves a team’s chances of advancing to the Final Four, it’s not automatic.

Since seedings began in 1979, a total of 60 No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Final Four and 21 have won the title.

That also means 92 teams not seeded No. 1 have gone to the Final Four and 17 have become national champs.

See, not automatic.

The only Final Four ever to have four No. 1 seeds was in San Antonio in 2008, the year Self claimed the crown.

Self has accomplished more since 2000 than most college programs have in their entire history.

He has more No. 1 seeds (seven) and national championships (one) than Oklahoma men’s basketball has in its 110-year existence. OU has been pretty stout through the years with Bruce Drake, Billy Tubbs, Kelvin Sampson and Lon Kruger, yet the Sooners have been the No. 1 seed a total of five times and they’re still looking for their first national crown.

Let’s try this another way: Every March, bracketeers are hard-pressed to pick against Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, and with good reason. Izzo is a stud, which explains last year’s induction into the same Hall of Fame that Self hopes to join this year. Izzo has been to seven Final Fours, fercryinoutloud.

In this year’s tournament, the No. 9-seeded Spartans faced No. 8-seeded Miami in the opening round at the BOK Center in Tulsa. All 8-9 games essentially are coin tosses. Entering this year’s tournament, the 8-9 game had an overall record of 64-64 since the 64-team bracket debuted in 1985.

You can bet good money far more people picked MSU to win, solely because of Izzo.

Izzo’s team indeed did advance, and then lost to Self’s team 90-70 in the second round.

Quick question: How many national titles has Izzo won? One (in 2000). Same total as Self (in 2008).

Another quick question: Which active coach has a better overall NCAA Tournament record? With Thursday’s victory over Purdue, Self (43-17) passed Izzo (47-19) in career tournament winning percentage (.717 to .712).

Izzo is 3-6 at the Final Four. Self is 3-1.

The coach who supposedly can’t win in March is now 33-12 (.733) in 14 tournaments with Kansas.

And if Self happens to come up short against Oregon, you can just hear those who say nay. “See, told you Kansas would choke.”

Evidently, tying UCLA’s Division I record of 13 straight Big 12 titles somehow doesn’t hold water for critics, but only two coaches in the history of college basketball have won that many consecutive regular-season conference titles – John Wooden and some guy born 54 years ago in Okmulgee.

Most NCAA Tournament Appearances (active coaches)

33—Mike Krzyzewski, Duke (1984-2017)

32—Jim Boeheim, Syracuse (1977-2016)

27—Roy Williams, Kansas & North Carolina (1990-2017)

23—Bob Huggins, Akron, Cincinnati & West Virginia (1986-2017)

22—Rick Barnes, Providence, Clemson & Texas (1989-2015)

21—Rick Pitino, Boston U., Providence, Kentucky & Louisville (1983-2017)

20—Tom Izzo, Michigan State (1998-2017)

19—Bill Self, Tulsa, Illinois & Kansas (1999-2017)

Consecutive NCAA Tournament Appearances (active coaches)

22—Mike Krzyzewski, Duke (1996-2017)

20—Tom Izzo, Michigan State (1998-2017)

19—Bill Self, Tulsa, Illinois & Kansas (1999-2017)

18—Mark Few, Gonzaga (2000-17)

Highest Tournament Winning Percentage (active coaches)

(Minimum 10 games)

.771 (91-28)—Mike Krzyzewski, Duke (1984-2017)

.750 (54-19)—Rick Pitino, Boston U., Providence, Kentucky & Louisville (1983-2017)

.747 (72-24)—Roy Williams, Kansas & North Carolina (1990-2017)

.741 (41-14)—*John Calipari, Massachusetts, Memphis & Kentucky (1992-2017)

.717 (43-17)—Bill Self, Tulsa, Illinois & Kansas (1999-2017)

.712 (47-19)—Tom Izzo, Michigan State (1998-2017)

*Victories vacated in 1996 and 2008