One of college basketball's greatest streaks finally ended on Tuesday
Basketball is a game of runs, and one of the sport's greatest runs on the college level came to an end on Tuesday night. After winning 14 consecutive regular season Big 12 titles, the Kansas Jayhawks failed to extend the streak to 15 in Norman, Oklahoma, where they lost to the Sooners 81-68.
The loss saw the Jayhawks fall to 11-6 in the conference, putting them a full two games back of Texas Tech and in-state rival Kansas State. Those two teams, each at 13-4, can win their final game and have the other team lose for sole possession of the regular season title. Or, they could both lose or both win and share. If either team wins sole possession, it'll be the first sole Big 12 regular season title winner since the 2004 Oklahoma State Cowboys, who were led by future NBA defensive legend Tony Allen. Since that season, Kansas has held at least a share of the regular season title every year, and 10 of those times the Jayhawks have held it alone, including the last five.
As ESPN's Jeff Borzello points out nicely here, injuries to the team—as well as a leave of absence from another key player—plus some major inconsistency plagued the Jayhawks the whole season. But that only speaks to how impressive their streak was, as the team was able to either avoid those factors or overcome them for the last 14 seasons. No team in any other power 5 conference has come close to that type of regular season dominance.
To celebrate (and put an end to) that dominance, let's take a look at what was happening in college basketball the last time Kansas wasn't on top of the Big 12 in the regular season.
Kansas was still really good!
The Jayhawks, despite not winning the regular season title or the conference tournament, still had a squad. Junior Wayne Simien, a former McDonald's All-American, averaged 17.8 points and 9.3 rebounds that year. As a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament, Kansas made it all the way to the Elite Eight, winning its first three games by an average of 22 points, before falling to Georgia Tech.
The best player in the country? He was in the A-10
Two words: Jameer Nelson.
Zero Cinderella stories to be found
The NCAA Tournament was basically chalk, unless you count 8 and 9 seeds as Cinderellas. As an 8-seed, Alabama made it all the way to the Elite Eight, beating a 29-1 Stanford team in the second round and the defending champion Syracuse Orange in the Sweet 16. But does anyone actually remember this Alabama run? Does anyone actually remember anything the Alabama basketball program has ever done? Thought so. As long as Nick Saban is there, basketball season is just the bridge to the Spring football game.
Jim Calhoun's second of three titles
Like I said, the tourney was chalk, and the 2-seed UConn Huskies took home the title for Jim Calhoun's second National Championship. This was arguably his best team. Take a look at this roster:
As a fan of the Seton Hall Pirates, there was nothing I looked forward to less than SHU playing these UConn teams. A guaranteed BLOODBATH every time. Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon (went second and third overall in the NBA Draft), FRESHMAN Charlie Villanueva! And then there was sophomore Rashad Anderson, who made the NCAA All-Tournament team after the Huskies ran train on everyone in the dance.
The No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft didn't go to college
Andrew D. Bernstein
Remember when that used to be a thing? Sounds like it could be again thanks to Mr. Williamson.
This game happened
Producing this picture:
Wow, what a year.