I often see comments, even here occasionally, that knock KU for their performance in the NCAA tourney. Bucknell, Bradley, Northern Iowa, and VCU are often mentioned. As a fan I felt the sting of those losses but I always thought that KU was doing about as well as the other higher seeded teams did over the years.
A few days ago I saw a comment here on RCT that gave Bill Self and KU much love and praise, but ended with “Except in the tournament sometimes.” This time, instead of being mildly annoyed with the comment and saying nothing (as I usually do), I decided to go gather some statistics to prove my gut feeling that KU does about as well as the other BB powerhouses in the NCAA tournament. So I spent several hours going through archived brackets at http://www.allbrackets.com/ and converting the results into spreadsheet data.
Guess what I found!
Over the last 10 years, no other team has won as many NCAA tourney games as KU!
Not Uconn. Not Mich. St. Not Duke. Not UNC. Not Kentucky. Nobody!
Despite those early flame-outs, which are all included in the last 10 years, KU has still won more tourney games than anyone else!
Here are the top 15 teams in total NCAA tourney wins over the last decade (2002-2011):
|Michigan State||Big 10||19|
So why do people criticize KU and Bill Self for their tournament performance, when no one else has even been able to equal it over the last decade? My guess is that's because of expectations. KU keeps winning the Big 12 year after year. The Big 12 has consistently been one of the top 3 conferences, so naturally KU keeps getting a very high seed in the tournament. And that leads to high expectations.
But, expectations aside, no one else has been better in recent years and I believe we KU fans should all take some time to think about what it means to be the most successful NCAA tournament team of the last decade.
If anyone would like me to email them my spreadsheet of tournament data, just let me know.