Danny and the Miracles
In one of the most shocking runs in NCAA Tournament history, senior All-American Danny Manning led the sixth-seeded Jayhawks on a miracle run through the 1988 NCAA Tournament. After starting the season 12-8, KU knocked off Kansas State 71-58 in the regional final in Detroit and then took down heavily favored Oklahoma 83-79 in the championship game at Kemper Arena, the 50th anniversary of the NCAA Tournament.
In the 2008 NCAA championship game, Kansas needed another miracle in the final seconds. Trailing Memphis by nine points with slightly more than 2 minutes left, Kansas pulled off a comeback for the ages, capped by Mario Chalmers’ game-tying three-pointer in the final seconds. The No. 1-seeded Jayhawks finished off Memphis 75-68 in overtime, capping off the most successful season in school history with the program’s third NCAA title.
Phog’s first NCAA title
Legendary KU coach Phog Allen was instrumental in the development of college basketball. And his crowning achievement came in the 1952 Final Four in Seattle, where senior Clyde Lovellette led KU to its first NCAA Title with an 80-63 victory over St. John’s in the championship game. Lovellette is still the only player to lead the nation in scoring and win a national championship in the same year.
Wilt’s stunning loss
In the only triple-overtime game in NCAA title game history, KU sophomore Wilt Chamberlain and the Jayhawks suffered a crushing 54-53 loss to North Carolina at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. North Carolina coach Frank McGuire sent out 5-foot-11 guard Tommy Kearns to jump center against Chamberlain, who finished with 23 points while making just six of 13 shots.
It was the most brilliant team of Roy Williams’ tenure — and maybe the most talented team in KU history. Paul Pierce. Raef LaFrentz. Jacque Vaughn. Scot Pollard. Jerod Haase. The Jayhawks entered the 1997 Sweet 16 with a 34-1 record and were heavy favorites to win it all. Instead, they went down 85-82 to an Arizona squad that featured freshman Mike Bibby and standout guard Miles Simon. The Wildcats would eventually win the NCAA title, while Kansas suffered one of the most heart-wrenching defeats in school history.
Roy down, one to go
The 2008 NCAA bracket felt like destiny. After Kansas coach Bill Self advanced to his first Final Four, No. 1 seed KU matched up with former coach Roy Williams for the first time since he left for North Carolina. Kansas rolled on and won 84-66 after starting the game on a 40-12 run. The demons were exorcised. And Williams showed up two days later, wearing a Jayhawk sticker during the title game.
Seniors Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich led No. 2 seed Kansas on a thrilling run through the 2003 tournament, racking up wins over Duke, Arizona and Marquette. But the Jayhawks’ title dreams were foiled in an 81-78 loss to Syracuse and freshman Carmelo Anthony. The Jayhawks, who made just 12 of 30 from the free-throw line, had a chance to tie it in the final seconds. But Syracuse’s Hakim Warrick blocked Michael Lee’s final three-point attempt.
The Killer B’s
The teams were different, but the result was the same. In 2006, No. 13-seed Bradley toppled No. 4 Kansas 77-73 in the first round in Auburn Hills, Mich. The massive upset came one year after KU suffered a similar fate in the first around against Bucknell.
Foot on the line?
In the 1966 Midwest Regional final, KU guard Jo Jo White drained a 25-footer in the final seconds of overtime that would have given the Jayhawks’ a victory over upstart Texas Western. The official, however, ruled that White’s foot was on the sideline before he took the shot. The Cinderella Miners then won in double overtime 81-80 advanced to the Final Four, where they won a historic NCAA title in the title game against Kentucky.