For Pete's Sake

What constitutes success: Final Four appearances or conference titles?

Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger cuts down the net after their win against Oregon in the regional final. Does OU’s success this season trump Kansas’.
Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger cuts down the net after their win against Oregon in the regional final. Does OU’s success this season trump Kansas’. The Associated Press

The New York Giants won Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 after a 9-7 season.

In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals had the fifth-best record in the National League and went on to win the World Series.

The 2012 Stanley Cup Final was won by eighth-seeded Los Angeles over sixth-seeded New Jersey.

The point? The teams with the regular-season records often don’t win a championship.

If you’re a Kansas basketball fan, you’ve seen this trend lately. The Jayhawks, the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, fell short of the Final Four after a loss Saturday against Villanova.

Since Bill Self took over as head coach at Kansas ahead of the 2003-04 season, the Jayhawks have won 12 conference titles, far and away the most in the NCAA in that time.

But when it comes to Final Four appearances in that span, KU is tied for the eighth most at two. Four schools have more national championships in that span as well.

So here’s a question, regardless of whether or not you’re a KU fan: would you rather have more conference titles or Final Four appearances? KU beat writer Jesse Newell asked this question in the context of this season: Who has had a better season, Kansas or Oklahoma?

Our poll is below, but first, here are the numbers since Bill Self took over as the Jayhawks’ coach:

Conference championships since 2004

Kansas: 12

North Carolina: 7

Ohio State: 5

Kentucky: 5

Arizona, UCLA: 4

Final Four appearances since 2004

Connecticut: 4 (3 national titles)

North Carolina: 4 (2)

Kentucky: 4 (1)

Michigan State: 4

Duke: 3 (2)

Louisville: 3 (1)

UCLA: 3

Florida: 2 (2)

Kansas: 2 (1)

Butler: 2

Syracuse: 2

Villanova: 2

Wisconsin: 2

17 tied: 1

In the spirit of fairness, KU has had prolonged success in the NCAA Tournament. Here are the key numbers since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985:

Final Four appearances since 1985

Duke: 12 (5 national titles)

North Carolina: 10 (3)

Kentucky: 8 (3)

Kansas: 8 (2)

Michigan State: 7 (1)

Connecticut: 5 (4)

Florida: 5 (2)

Syracuse: 5 (1)

Arizona: 4 (1)

Michigan: 4 (1)

UCLA: 4 (1)

You’ve seen the historical data. Now please vote in our poll (and feel free to leave a comment as well):

 

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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